The Uwharrie Players, Inc. has been the community theater
organization of Stanly County for over thirty-five years. The Players were formed in the
spring of 1975 as an outgrowth of the Stanly County Arts Council. Thirty-four
charter members set out to establish a vehicle that would provide local citizens
an opportunity to perform on stage and that would expose Stanly County to
quality theatrical entertainment.
Curt Little was elected as the Uwharrie Players’ first
president. However, a career opportunity required Little to leave Albemarle
after serving for only two months. The elected vice-president, Ken Campbell,
became president and immediately began preparations for the Uwharrie Players’
first show. On June 12, 1975, the curtain went up on the Players’ production
of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA. Community theater was off and running
in Stanly County.
In the thirty plus years since that June night in 1975,
the Uwharrie Players have presented over 100 plays. At least 1,200 people have been
involved in these shows, and over 57,000 people have paid to watch them.
For nearly two years, the Uwharrie Players operated
without a true business component. In 1977, the Players revised their
constitution and by-laws to include an elected board of directors that would
handle the business of the organization. Bob Compton was elected by the newly
formed board to serve as its first chairperson. The organization was also
incorporated at this time and its official title became the Uwharrie Players,
Two characteristics have always distinguished the Uwharrie
Players from most community theater groups. First, the shows that are selected
to be presented each season are done so by a vote of the organization’s entire
membership. This process was written into the original by-laws and has never
been changed. A different process for selecting plays has been discussed from
time to time, but has always been voted down by the Players’ membership.
The other distinguishing trait of the Uwharrie Players is
that the organization has never had a permanent, paid staff person. Directors
and other production staff positions are hired on a one show at a time basis.
Organizational administration and fund raising are, and always have been done on
a voluntary basis.
Over the years, the Uwharrie Players’ shows have been
performed in a number of locations. In the early years, the Albemarle High
School auditorium was the site most frequently used. Other locations included
Central Elementary School’s auditorium, the North Stanly High School
auditorium, Pfeiffer University’s campus theater, and the old Center movie
theater. In 1989, Stanly County opened a new Agri-Civic Center with an 1,100
seat auditorium. That facility housed nearly every U.P. production for the next
decade. In recent years, for size and financial reasons, some of the Players’
smaller shows have gone back to smaller venues such as school auditoriums,
churches, market station and Dennis Vinyards.
Of the many shows presented by the Uwharrie
Players, several have earned distinction. Plays that have been presented twice
by the Players include: OKLAHOMA, LI"L ABNER, GUYS AND DOLLS, ANNIE GET
YOUR GUN, DRACULA THE MUSICAL, THE FOREIGNER, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE BOYS NEXT DOOR,
SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN and ANNIE. THE SOUND OF MUSIC has been performed
three times. The
inspirational rock musical, GODSPELL, holds the honor of being the Uwharrie
Players’ most repeated show – four times (1979, 1980, 1985, 2001). FIDDLER
ON THE ROOF (1977), ANNIE (1987), GREASE (1998), THE KING AND I (2006), and
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2007) were the best attended shows
in Uwharrie Players’ history. GREASE holds the distinction of being the most
financially successful production ever.
In 1988, Gary Moran and Joan Giglio initiated the Uwharrie
Players’ first awards banquet. This ceremony recognized the achievements of
the Players’ past season and included humorous awards, acting awards, and the
selection of the season’s favorite show. The awards banquet was so successful
that it has become an annual event for the Uwharrie Players. Each winter,
usually around the end of January or the first of February, the Players
celebrate their past season with an evening of food, fun, and awards.
The Uwharrie Players suffered two great personal losses in
1989. Sam Holshouser was killed in an accident at the newly opened Agri-Civic
Center in July of that year, and Joan Giglio succumbed to cancer in September.
Both had been true leaders of the Players since the early years of the
organization. Holshouser had performed on stage, served as board chairperson and
as president, and had built many of the sets for plays. Giglio also performed on
stage, served as secretary, treasurer, and board chairperson, and was known as
the ultimate hostess for parties and banquets. Two annual awards are now given
at the U.P. awards ceremony in honor of these individuals. The Holshouser Award
goes to the person making the greatest back-stage contributions to the past
season’s productions. The Giglio Award goes to the past year’s most
outstanding board member.
In 1992, primarily through the efforts of Vicki Coggins,
the Uwharrie Players obtained official tax-exempt status as a 501-c(3) non-profit
organization with the I.R.S. This status has greatly assisted the Players in
their annual fund raising efforts.
The Uwharrie Players celebrated their twentieth
anniversary season in 1994/95. Edna Lipe-Harkey headed up the committee that
organized the activities for that special year. Some of the anniversary
festivities included: encore presentations of some of the Players’ most
popular shows (THE FOREIGNER, OKLAHOMA, and DRACULA THE MUSICAL); a display in
the Agri-Civic Center lobby that featured costumes and memorabilia from past
shows; a reception for the original cast members of the 1975 production of
OKLAHOMA; a special supplement in the Stanly News and Press that covered the
Players’ anniversary; and the establishment of a Uwharrie Players Hall of
The Uwharrie Players Hall of Fame was established to
recognize and honor individuals who had contributed outstanding time and effort
to the Players over a long period. Each year, a special committee comes up with
a list of nominees to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame. To be
elected to the Hall, a person must receive 75% of the votes cast by the
organization’s membership and contributors. To date, eleven people have been
elected to the Uwharrie Players Hall of fame. These are Sam Holshouser (1995),
Reed Furr (1996), Joan Giglio (1997), Leon Warren (1999), Patti Furr (2000),
Martha Chapman (2003), Edna Lipe-Harkey (2005), Kent Harkey (2007), Joe Giglio
(2010), Harriet Brooks (2010), and Michael Furr (2011).
In the fall of 2003, the Uwharrie Players decided to
develop a website for listing the organization on the Internet. A committee
chaired by Tim Shires and consisting of members Brian Jones, James Cotton, Sid
Norvell, Reed Furr, Marty Medlin, and Joanna Flack were responsible for
organizing and building this website. Brian Jones presently serves as Web Master
for the Players site, which can be found at www.uwharrieplayers.org
In December of 2004, the Uwharrie Players presented their
first "radio show". This event was organized and directed by Rod
Almond. With actors reading from scripts before a live, dinner-theater audience,
the Players presented the holiday classic, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. The entire
show was taped and repeated several times over a local radio station. This event
was so successful that the Uwharrie Players decided to make it an annual event.
In 2005, the Uwharrie Players celebrated their 30th
anniversary. As a part of this celebration, the Players recognized past shows at
the annual awards dinner, repeated the popular show, SOUTH PACIFIC, put together
a display of memorabilia at the Agri-Civic Center, and were featured in a
special article in the Stanly News and Press.
In 2007, the Uwharrie Players joined the Metrolina Theatre
in order to increase theatrical contacts throughout the greater Charlotte area,
and to increase the talent pool for potential directors and actors.
In May of 2007, the Uwharrie Players participated in the
City of Albemarle's 150th Birthday Celebration by presenting a special musical
review show at Albemarle High School. The show was titled: "Musical
Memories - Three Decades of Uwharrie Players Entertainment." This review was an
outstanding success and greatly appreciated by the organizers of Albemarle's
IN 2008, to align itself better with the M.T.A. and try to
encourage more membership by starting the season with the large summer musical,
the UP Board voted to change the Players' season from a regular calendar year to
a May to April season. This change went into effect over 2009 and 2010.
However, after only one year, the Players ran into complications with this new
season format (primarily for financial reporting reasons), and voted to change
back to the old standard calendar year season format. The change back to a
calendar year season took place during 2011.
In 2009, a UP Archives Committee was created by the UP
Board and chaired by Natasha Wall. The purposes of this committee was to
organize and preserve memorabilia from the Players' past; to display this
memorabilia in a prominent place; and to organize a lending library that held
video's and scripts of past Players productions as well as a system for checking
out these items.
In 2010, the Hearne family offered the Uwharrie Players
the free use of the old McCain Clubhouse on East Main Street in downtown
Albemarle. This facility gave the Players a "home" for meetings,
rehearsals, and records storage, as well as a place to display the memorabilia
collected and organized by the new Archives Committee. The Archives
Committee's lending library was also located in this facility.
In April of 2010, the Players celebrated their 35th anniversary
by holding a special "35 Years of Magic" awards banquet. This banquet was
coordinated by Kelly Almond and featured presentations on the Uwharrie Players'
sixteen most magical shows, as determined by Players' veteran, Reed Furr.
These shows were revealed throughout the evening in short video segments written
and narrated by Reed Furr and produced by James Cotton. This special
anniversary banquet also featured the return of several people who had performed
in these "most magical" shows throughout the Uwharrie Players' 35 year history.
The evening was deemed a smash hit.
The following plays have been presented by the Uwharrie
1975 – OKLAHOMA, LI’L ABNER; 1976 – YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, THE
SOUND OF MUSIC; 1977 – BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, THE GLASS
MENAGERIE; 1978 – SOUTH PACIFIC; 1979 – GODSPELL, GYPSY, PLAZA SUITE; 1980
– GODSPELL, CAROUSEL, THE FANTASTICKS; 1981 – THE DARK AT THE TOP OF THE
STAIRS, GUYS AND DOLLS, WAIT UNTIL DARK; 1982 – DON"T DRINK THE WATER, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN; 1983 – BUS STOP,
ONCE UPON A MATRESS, YOU"RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN, 1984 – I REMEMBER
MAMA, HELLO DOLLY, DRACULA THE MUSICAL; 1985 – THE MOUSETRAP, GODSPELL; 1986
– THE ODD COUPLE, BYE BYE BIRDIE; 1987 – SNOOPY, ANNIE, CACTUS FLOWER; 1988
– THE FOREIGNER, OLIVER, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS; 1989 – THE NERD, BEST
LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, COTTON PATCH GOSPELS; 1990 – OUR TOWN, THE SOUND
OF MUSIC, DAMES AT SEA; 1991- ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, ANYTHING GOES, PUMP BOYS AND
DINETTES; 1992 – LEND ME A TENOR, THE MUSIC MAN, THE MIRACLE WORKER; 1993 –
THE BOYS NEXT DOOR, INTO THE WOODS, BABY; 1994 – THE FOREIGNER, OKLAHOMA,
DRACULA THE MUSICAL; 1995 – DRIVING MISS DAISY, MY FAIR LADY, NUNSENSE; 1996
– THE WIDOW’S BEST FRIEND, DAMN YANKEES, BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER; 1997
–STEEL MAGNOLIAS, GUYS AND DOLLS, DEATHTRAP; 1998 – HARVEY, GREASE, SMOKE ON
THE MOUNTAIN; 1999 – GRANDEST CANYON, LI’L ABNER, CRIMES OF THE HEART; 2000
– CATFISH MOON, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, A SANDERS
FAMILY CHRISTMAS; 2001 – GODSPELL, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, GREATER TUNA;
2002 –LOVE LETTERS, THE WIZARD OF OZ, COTTON PATCH GOSPEL; 2003 – THE
RAINMAKER, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK; 2004 – ON GOLDEN POND,
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, and RAMONA QUIMBY; 2005 - NUNSENSE
II, SOUTH PACIFIC, and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST; 2006 - CROSSROADS, THE
KING AND I, and BLESSED ASSURANCE; 2007 - THE BOYS NEXT DOOR, DISNEYS BEAUTY AND
THE BEAST, A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING; 2008 - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, CHILDREN OF
EDEN, SMOKE ON THE MOUNTIAN HOMCOMING; 2009 - OF MICE AND MEN, THE SOUND OF
MUSIC, SWEENY TODD 2010 - STEEL MAGNOLIAS, ANNIE, and SMOKE ON THE
MOUNTAIN; 2011 - DON'T CRY FOR ME, MARGARET MITCHELL, DEARLY DEPARTED, ALL SHOOK
UP, A HIGH COUNTRY CHRISTMAS; 2012 - THE FANTASTICS, CAMELOT, 12 ANGRY MEN; 2013
- THE DIXIE SWIM CLUB, BIG RIVER, THE CODGERELLA.
The following people have served as president of the Uwharrie Players:
1975 – Curt Little and Ken Campbell; 1976 – Ken Campbell; 1977 –
Steve Whitley; 1978 and 1979 –Robert Kennedy; 1980 – Reed Furr; 1981 and
1982 – Kathey Teague McCollister; 1983 - Walter Hill; 1984 – Jay McCollister;
1985 – Martha Chapman and Gary Moran; 1986 – Martha Chapman; 1987 – Todd
Furr; 1988 – Sam Holshouser; 1989 – Darwin Compton; 1990 – Mary Coyle;
1991 – Kathey Teague McCollister; 1992 – Rick McCollister; 1993 - Reed Furr;
1994 – Brian Jones; 1995 – Judy Ingram; 1996 – Edna Lipe-Harkey; 1997 –
Kelly Story; 1998 – Michael Furr; 1999 - Kent Harkey; 2000 – Colleen Jones;
2001 – Susie Johnson; 2002 and 2003 – Martha Chapman; 2004 – Darlene
Stibal; 2005 – Tim Shires; 2006 - Tom Horner, 2007 - Colleen Jones, 2008 - Don
Burris, Tim Harris; 2009 - Lena Olson, 2010 - Kelly Almond; 2011 - Betsy Furr;
2012 - Charlotte Maness; 2013 - Marty Medlin.
The following people have served as board chairperson for the Uwharrie
1977 – Bob Compton; 1978 – Joe Giglio; 1979 and 1980 – Sam Holshouser;
1981 – Marie Smith; 1982 – Bill Dobbs; 1983 – Dave Nagey; 1984 – Patti
Furr; 1985 and 1986 – Rick McCollister; 1987 and 1988 – Kent Harkey; 1989
– Joan Giglio; 1990 – Vicki Coggins; 1991 and 1992 – Darwin Compton; 1993
– Colleen Jones; 1994 – Reed Furr; 1995 – Kent Harkey; 1996 and 1997 –
Bob Baker; 1998 and 1999 – Darlene Stibal; 2000 and 2001 – Charlotte
Maness; 2002 – Greg McCollister; 2003 – Pradeep Pilakel; 2004 and 2005 –
Kelly Story; 2006 - Edna Lipe-Harkey, 2007 & 2008 - Lena Olson & Tim Harris;
2009 - Tim Harris; 2010 - Lena Olson, 2011 - Gilbert Umberger; 2012 -
; 2013 - Jeff Hamilton.
The following people have directed plays for the Uwharrie
Players: Gail Roger; Tom Hollis; Monte Burleson; Jim Kennedy; Jim Wood; Betsy
Patterson; Terry Wood; Curt Little; Tommy Aldridge; Ann Salancy; Kit Jenkins;
Dennis Gouge; Rick McCollister; Jim Veenstra; Fred Corlett; Mike Lucas; Gerald
Honaker; Karl Hale; Joe Giglio; Martha Chapman; Daintry Reece; John Goodnow;
Trish Bellah; Michael Disher; George Bellah; Craig Spradley; Frank Dominguez;
Tony Medlin; Larry Thomas; Kelly Story; Nancy Duke; Della Freedman; Ginger
Heath; Susie Johnson; Doug Dodson; John Stafford; Phil Taylor; Buddy Osborne;
Clay Gaithskill; Doug Stauter; James Cotton; Martin Thompson; Blair Johnson;
George Gray; Tracey Davies; Lena Olson; Rod Almond;
Craig Kolkebeck; Jack
Stevenson; Hal Houston; Christy Hinkleman; Caroline Firczak; Heather Wilson; .