A Grand History

The Mount Vernon Players began in 1963 as a play-reading group with just a handful of people: Tony Coleman, Zelma Coleman, Mark Kinney, Don Dempsey and Evelyn Roeder. The original members formulated a creed, which is followed yet today.

The first production, Squaring the Circle, was presented on May 13, 1964, with fifteen local people in the cast. The director was Tony Coleman.

Just a month later, on June 15, non-profit articles of incorporation were filed. The initial trustees were Carl Day, Mark Kinney, and Tony Coleman. Attorney Jim Cullers acted as agent for the incorporation.

The first election of officers followed the May production. They were: Executive Director, Tony Coleman; Business Manager, Mark Kinney; Public Relations Director, Carl Day; Secretary, Joan Kinnard; Art Director, Evelyn Roeder; Music Director, Dorothy Sardinha; and Green Room Committe, Zelma Coleman.

An original musical, Blind Date, written by Carl Day and Dorothy Sardinha was performed in August 1965. A world premier! Following its Mount Vernon opening, the show went to the 1965 Ohio State Fair.

Music Man in August of 1965 was the first of the major musicals, which now number fifty-one (51). To date (September 2015) there have been more than 180 musicals, dramas, children's plays, dinner-theater productions, and other dramatic productions. As a member organization of the Ohio Community Theater Association (OCTA), the Players have entered seventeen (17) central Ohio regional competitions, and have won twenty nine (29) awards.

Understandably, the first few years were filled with the usual financial problems faced by any voluntary organization, but the membership persisted, and in 1970 with the production of "Oklahoma!" the organization became fiscally sound. There have been some ups and downs, but the Players have remained debt-free since that time.

During the past 50 years, the Players have also been involved in many community service programs and have cooperated with other organizations:

  • Provided programs for the Beethoven Club, College Women's Club, American Association of University Women, Veleda, Mount Vernon Education Association, Knox County Art Guild, Mount Vernon Is 1980 Celebration, Knox County Fair, Forth of July celebration and the annual Bicycle Race
  • Caroled at hospitals and nursing homes.
  • Built parade floats.
  • Shared sets and costumes with high school drama departments, Youth Theatre, and community festivals.
  • Provided volunteers to assist the Kenyon Festival Theater.
  • Presented a 1975 production funded by the Ohio Arts Council
  • Produced original scripts by Carl Day and Dorothy Sardinha, Don Rice, Steve Allerding, and Darren Ayers.
  • Entertained residents of the Mount Vernon Development Center and senior citizens with free attendance at previews of summer musicals.
  • Yearly participation in the Dan Emmett Music and Arts Festival and the Christmas Walk.
  • Provide technical expertise for the Ohio Junior Miss Scholarship program.

Participation in the Players' many activities have not been limited to just a few. The organization continues to provide a creative outlet for people of all ages, all levels of expertise, and all walks of life. The summer productions have been a constructive activity for scores of people - young and old alike.