Charlotte Players celebrating Christmas and more in December

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Feeling a bit like Angela Lansbury singing “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute” in Mame on Broadway? Mark your calendar for Dec. 2 – 6, when the Charlotte Players presents its holiday show, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, at the Langdon Playhouse in Port Charlotte.
“If you want some Christmas spirit, this show will deliver,” said Jessie Reter-Choate, who is directing the large cast of this delightful comedy.
Rehearsals are under way with the cast of mostly kids and a few adults. The Players instituted COVID-19 precautions throughout its office and theater. Stage manager Jan Weston takes the actors’ temperatures upon arrival at the rehearsal hall, and the cast wears face coverings during rehearsal. (They will wear face shields for the play.)
“Working with young people is such a delight,” said the director. “Their energy is so contagious on stage.”
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever concerns a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant who must cast the six Herdman kids, the worst children in history. Much mayhem and hilarity ensue when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head-on.
Weston is also handling costumes and props, and the director’s husband, Jimmie Choate, built a minimalist set with quick-change capabilities for different scenes.
“The pageantry and story will let you escape into the season,” promised Jessie Reter-Choate.
“This show calls for audience participation, and we hope everyone leaves with a sense of the miracle this time of year allows.”
The five performances of the two-hour show include 7:30 p.m. four evening shows on Wednesday, Dec. 2, through Saturday, Dec. 5, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Dec. 6.
Tickets are $22 for adults and $11 for students age 14-18 and may be ordered at or by calling 941-255-1022 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever started out as a short story, first published in McCall’s magazine. Author Barbara Robinson adapted her story adapted into a book, which sold over 800,000 copies, then into a play. She also wrote the teleplay for 1983 TV movie based on the book and starring Loretta Swit of “M.A.S.H.” fame. (The film is available for free on YouTube.)
On Dec. 9, a documentary about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will premiere online at 7 p.m. The Library that Dolly Built: Celebrating the People Who Made Dolly’s Dream Come True film offers a behind-the-scenes look at Parton’s nonprofit that provides free books to children in all 50 states and five countries. The Charlotte County affiliate is operated by founder Shawn Gilstad and the Charlotte Players.
The documentary is being promoted by Open Books, a nonprofit social venture that provides literacy experiences through inspiring programs and creative capitalization of books. Registration for the event is available through the Open Books website ( and Eventbrite (visit and type “Dolly” in the search bar). The event, scheduled to include a Q and A session and a song by Parton, is free, although donations are requested.
December wouldn’t be complete without the Players’ annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Under the direction of Ken Crisp, some of Charlotte County’s most talented singers will present a pair of 90-minute concerts at the Langdon Playhouse on Tuesday, Dec. 31. The New Year’s Eve shows take place at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., so audiences can get where they’re going well before the big ball drops.
Cast members include Rachael Dalangauskas, Meegan DeYoung, Kelly O’Donnell, Pamela Seay, Valorie Holden, Randy Mennella, and Bill Depew. Musicians are Crisp on keyboard, Bob Cook on drums, and Frank Sanders on bass guitar. Many group numbers are “blasts from the past,’ including a Motown medley, Jersey Boys medley, “Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.” and many more.
Tickets are $25. All seats are reserved, and tickets may be ordered online at or by calling the Players office at 941-255-1022. COVID-19 precautions remain in effect. Audience members will have their temperatures taken upon entrance to the theater, will be seated far enough apart to meet recommendations, and will be provided with masks (if needed).


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