Make us your home page

Richey Suncoast Theatre presents holiday show in memory of the late Charlie Skelton

For more than a decade, the late Charlie Skelton used his summer vacation time in Las Vegas to write quirky, lovable Christmas shows for Richey Suncoast Theatre. He invented zany characters (and names) and familiar local situations - the CAVE group (Citizens Against Virtually Everything), for example, a thinly disguised depiction of a homeowners' association with an imperious board led by the bossy Mrs. Artiluke guarding against the slightest infraction of the rules.

The CAVE dwellers always got a big laugh, along with good-natured boos and hisses.

Charlie and wife Marie are largely credited with saving the theater from economic collapse after a spate of ineffective leadership in the early and mid '90s. He managed the remodeling of the entire theater, attracted and encouraged new patrons, actors, and workers, started new programs that enhanced the local entertainment scene, paid off the debts, and fattened the coffers of the theater, even as he tirelessly worked to bolster several other nonprofit organizations throughout the county.

So it was severe blow to the theater and the community when he unexpectedly died of Legionnaires' Disease at age 66 during his 2012 Las Vegas trip. Young people whose professional careers he had helped launch, adults whose lives had been changed through his encouragement, and hundreds of friends and admirers expressed their sadness and dismay over his death. And many vowed to keep his memory alive through their dedication to his projects, especially the theater, and to support his equally hard-working wife, Marie.

The story of how it all happened, what is happening now, and what everyone hopes will happen in the future is the topic of playwright/director Kathryn Tilley's musical/drama Remembrance: A Pasco Christmas 2013. Ms. Tilley has performed in several Richey Suncoast shows, including Joanne in Company and her Charlie Award-winning performance in the title role in Mame.

"The show is about the late Charlie Skeleton (played by Keith Surplus) and his wife Marie (played by Megan Gillespie the first weekend and by Ms. Tilley the second)," Ms. Tilley said. The show starts in the present, with Charlie gone, but still present in spirit. "He comes back as a ghost to show Marie that she is not alone, that she has so much family still here in the theater community they built together."

Characters and scenes from past Christmas shows that Charlie wrote are part of the "past" section of the show, and his insistence that everyone who wants to be in the show should be included is respected in the "present" and "future" sections. That means a large cast, lots of songs and dances, and those unexpected moments that always popped up in his productions will be in this show, too.

"It was a difficult show to write, but I think I had some heavenly inspiration working for me," Ms. Tilley said. "The show definitely has some sad and tender moments, but there is a happy ending."

Patrons can expect to see some of their favorite characters from past shows — Carl Brown playing Carl the Marvel, Jeanne Botz as Mrs. Artiluke, Cate Huyck as the spoiled Erika Artiluke, Ally Klein as the Britney Spears Doll, Jeffrey Oles as Mad Mark Scientist — as well as fairy dancers, Tahitian dancers, tap dancers, carolers, elves, and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus.

"I am honored that this will be performed and proud to honor the memory of Charlie and my love and support for Marie," Ms. Tilley said.

Also coming….

The Show Palace Dinner Theatre will present Irving Berlin's White Christmas, based on the 1954 Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye musical movie about two World War II Army veterans who form a singing act and meet two singing sisters at a remote Vermont resort. It opens Thursday and continues matinees and evenings through Dec. 25. The theater is at 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson. Dinner and show, $49.50 adults; $24.95 ages 11 and younger. Call (727) 863-7949 or online at

. If you go

Remembrance: A Pasco Christmas 2013

Weekends through Dec. 8 at Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey. Shows are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $17 adults, $8 ages 11 and younger. Call (727) 842-6777. Box office is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and an hour before each show.

Richey Suncoast Theatre presents holiday show in memory of the late Charlie Skelton

11/25/13 [Last modified: Monday, November 25, 2013 8:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Prep meals for a week with tacos, pork tenderloin and rosemary chicken


    Some see a resemblance to Japan's popular bento boxes. Some just call it meal prepping. And some prefer to think of it as bringing lunch to work in Tupperware containers.

    For simple meal prep, you can’t go wrong with this classic: ground beef tacos, black beans and homemade Spanish rice.
  2. 'Swag Surfin' producer: 'It's very weird… they're still playing the song' eight years later

    Music & Concerts


    Kevin Erondu doesn't often go to night clubs. Yet, across America, he drives people to the dance floor. He's 31 years old, but he still has the ear of college students, and while he's no pro athlete, they leap to their feet when he joins them in the gym.

    Originally from Dade City, music producer Kevin Erondu, 31, rose to prominence after creating the beat to Swag Surfin’, a 2009 club hit that still inspires viral videos today.
  3. 5 things to do under $5: Type artists, shuffleboard, toy train show, Wildflower Walk


    1 Letterheads Typefest: The muralists who run Illsol Space, a gallery in Tampa Heights, said their respect for handmade fonts and sign painting techniques moved them to curate this exhibit featuring type-based muralists, hand-style lettering designers, sign painters, letterpress studios and type designers. …

    Colm O’Connor, a Dublin sign writer, is among the 22 artists featured in the Letterheads Typefest exhibit at the Illsol Space gallery.
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 23


    The Art of the Brick: An elaborate display of more than 100 pieces of Lego artwork including the life sized sculpture of a man ripping open his chest, a 20-foot-long T. rex skeleton, a giant skull and replicas of famous works including Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona …

    Nathan Sawaya with a sculpture from his The Art of the Brick exhibition coming to Tampa June 23- Sept. 4. It will be open for free Wednesdays through Sundays,  from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 802 E Whiting Street, Tampa. No tickets are required.[Courtesy  of the Art of the Brick]
  5. I give you a fish, you give me back my man


    The B-52s are a band with such a distinct visual look that you could tell it was them with just a glimpse of a picture. But was it always beehives and bright clothes for the hipsters from Athens? You can find the different looks of the B-52s in their video for the irresistible Give Me Back My Man.