About Central Park Players

Our Mission

Central Park Players is committed to creating a safe, inclusive community of volunteers. We invite professionals and amateurs, the inexperienced and experienced alike to work together in continuing our traditions in the West Michigan theatre community.

Cultivating these relationships ensures we pass on our storytelling to new generations of patrons and participants. We view theatre as a tool for creative expression, skill building and a method of raising cultural awareness.

We are dedicated to affordable productions that entertain and inform not only our viewing public but the participants who call Central Park Players home.

Grand Haven’s Community Theatre

Central Park Players is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Each year, we put on four main season shows and a family theatre musical. The selection, staffing and performance of every production is only made possible through our outstanding volunteers.

Our regular season shows are performed at Central Park Place (formerly the Grand Haven Community Center) at 421 Columbus Avenue, across the street from Central Park.

Our Board of Directors

  • PRESIDENT Darcie Beekman
  • VICE PRESIDENT Rich Holmberg
  • TREASURER Amber Ponce
  • SECRETARY Joy Lamphere*
  • Rebecca Gierhart*
  • Amy Lalick-Prinzi
  • Aaron Ponce*
  • Diane Reeths
  • Jessie Wilde*

* Denotes New Board Members

Darcie Beekman, Rich Holmberg, Amy Lalick-Prinzi, Joy Lamphere, Amber Ponce, Aaron Ponce, Diane Reeths, Rebecca Gierhart and Jessie Wilde are the members of the 2023-2024 board of directors.

Over 65 years in the making…

Central Park Players is built on a foundation laid in 1862. That’s when local thespians began entertaining Civil War soldiers at the Ottawa County Courthouse.

In 1870, local and traveling troupes began performing in the Music Hall. Next came the Grand Haven Dramatic Club, which performed at the Music Hall from 1878 to 1936.

Community theatre was dormant until 1949 when Summer Stock Org began performing at The Women’s Club. Participants included Central Michigan College (CMC) staff and students as well as local performers. Not long after, CMC began offering credit to students working with The Lake Michigan Playhouse (LMP).

LMP’s reorganization into Grand Haven Civic Theatre (GHCT) in 1959 marks the birth of what would become Central Park Players. For the next seven years, GHCT performed at a variety of locations, but with completion of the Grand Haven Community Center in 1966, GHCT had a new home and a new name. The Center’s location across from Central Park prompted the name change to Central Park Players, and in 1986, CPP became a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

CPP’s cast and crew have been making the news for many decades. [1986]

In 1995, CPP introduced its Family Theatre to provide greater opportunities for younger actors to perform alongside peers across school districts and Lakeshore communities.

With the temporary closing of the Community Center for renovation, CPP moved to the Grand Haven Area Arts Council building in 2006. CPP returned to the Community Center in 2008, but it wasn’t for too long.

In the spring of 2011, we formed a partnership with the Grand Haven Public Schools and called Lakeshore Middle School our new home. For many involved with CPP it was the stage they performed on while in school themselves. Very nostalgic!

We had many wonderful shows on the school stage. The school needed their stage more frequently, so we move back downtown to the Grand Haven Community Center in 2016.

CPP’s family theatre musical productions provide experiences for youth from various Lakeshore school districts and cities to come together in song and dance. [2022]

In 2017, CPP rode its first float in the United States Coast Guard Festival Grand Parade! We have continued this tradition annually.

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021 put a stop to in-person theatre across the globe. Even Broadway was dark for a year and a half! We stayed connected with our patrons through virtual events, but sorely missed the stage. We returned with Godspell, Jr. in July 2021.

Grand Haven Community Center was renamed in 2022, so now Central Park Players performs in Central Park Place.

Central Park Players’ float is a crowd favorite in the US Coast Guard Festival Grand Parade. [2021]

Vibrant, compelling, engaging theatre and community outreach are all part of CPP’s plans for the future. Central Park Players is proud to be an important Tri-Cities asset and continues to build on that solid foundation laid nearly 150 years ago.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does Central Park Players perform?

Central Park Players’ stage is at Central Park Place, 421 Columbus Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417.

I’ve never been in theatre. Can I join a production?

Of course. Our organization has volunteers and performers at all levels of experience. Anyone can audition for a show, serve as production staff, become a member, or join a committee.

How does CPP choose the plays and musicals that you stage?

We accept calls for directors typically in late December to the end of January. Our artistic committee reviews the submissions and presents selections to the board for a vote.

Are there opportunities for children and teens?

Ages vary in our regular season productions. Every summer, we provide a Day Camp (ages 5-13) and a Family Theatre musical production (ages 8-18).