The keeper of grandma’s attic

Sherrie Moody, executive director of the Charlotte Players, talks about the community theater company while relaxing in the rehearsal area.

It’s true Sherrie Moody has other responsibilities as she oversees the day-to-day operations of the Charlotte Players, a large and busy community theater group.

But it’s also true she holds the key to the door of the Players’ prop and costume rooms, an enormous cache of all the stuff your grandma kept in her attic. From clown shoes to ruby red slippers, from dinosaur costumes to Santa and Mrs. Claus suits, from furs to handmade peignoirs, it’s all there.

It’s a consignment shop on steroids, a hoarder’s lifetime collection.

No one can visit the place without marveling at the sheer volume of the stuff. No one can visit without wanting to spend the day playing dress up.

And Sherrie has the keys.

What a cool job.

“We have people pull up in trucks all the time and say, ‘Hey, you want any of this?’”

Evidence shows that she answers yes a lot.

The rehearsal hall is just on the other side of the magic door separating it from office space. A set of a living room awaits actors. There’s a comfy couch, which came from Salvation Army in Punta Gorda. The set will be broken down and moved into the Langdon Playhouse for the shows. The playhouse is the Players’ 102-seat theater on site at the Community Theater Center in Murdock.

The seats came from Murdock Baptist Church.

It takes a village.

Grandma’s attic is partitioned into several spaces and includes a loft with more cool items. It serves as a dressing room as well as a storage space.

Hey, this is community theater.

“We have the largest costume stock from Tampa on down,” Moody said. “We do our best to organize it.”

Moody has been executive director of the Charlotte Players for 13 years. She is its only full-time employee. She runs a nonprofit that relies on ticket sales, advertising and donations to fund its $400,000 budget.

Her background is in business management, not theater. Her one role was as Glenda the Good Witch in high school. At the time, she didn’t realize the other witch was the really meaty part.

Although she directs business — including choosing and scheduling productions — she must put what acting ability she has to use from time to time because “not all the drama is onstage.”

She laughed when she said that. She also chuckles when she talks about the days when the Charlotte Players’ headquarters sat next door to Emerald City, Charlotte County’s one and only strip club.

“Try dropping your 10-year-old off at that location.”

The Players moved to its current location at 1182 Market Circle in 2010. It is not true that it took all of Emerald City’s clothing with it – three bras and a bikini bottom.

The Players traces its roots to the Cultural Center, declaring in its website history that it got its start in 1961 as a solo acting class at Charlotte U – what would become the Cultural Center. The Players calls itself one of the oldest performing arts organizations in the state.

The Charlotte Players in its current operation is composed of its flagship program, Main Stage Productions, and two smaller affiliate programs, Langdon Playhouse and Kids on Stage.

The Players boasts about 600 members with a core of about 230 dues-paying members. It puts on several productions throughout the year at several area venues, including the Langdon Playhouse. Membership is not a requirement to audition.

Moody came to it in 2006 after running the theater at the Cultural Center from 2000 to 2005 and working in office administration for a bunch of for-profit businesses.

“There were three of us running it at the time,” recalled longtime volunteer Lynne Ziegler, who hired Moody. “I had dealt with Sherrie when she was at the Cultural Center, so we went out and got her.

“We knew she was a tough cookie. We knew something would get done. And it did.”

The tough cookie is a Michigan native who came here in 1979 with her husband, Mike, whose career is in radio. They have two sons and a daughter. At the time, Moody, 63, had two years at Michigan State to her credit.

At 51, she decided to return to college and get her degree in organizational management.

“As my children got older, I decided I wanted to get my degree before they got theirs,” she said.

The children are grown now, the degree in hand. Moody’s big job now is to manage the Charlotte Players.

Oh, and to serve as keeper to grandma’s attic.

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