Central Park Players


In Grand Haven, the Central Park Players offer opportunities for adults and kids five years and older to participate in live theater. During the school year the 120-member theater company founded in 1959 stages four productions at Central Park Place (formerly the Grand Haven Community Center). In the summertime, the group runs a two-week theater day camp for kids ages 5-13 and mounts a family theater production; this year it’s the musical “Seussical JR,” which will be staged July 27-29 with performers as young as eight in the cast. Residents of various West Michigan communities have been involved in the all-volunteer organization.

Meet Darcie Beekman, board member and
2022-23 president of Central Park Players

Q: What impact does Central Park Players have on the community of Grand Haven and nearby towns?

Darcie Beekman: Community theater keeps topics pertinent, teaches motivation, leadership, and accountability, increases communication skills, introduces us to different cultures and people, and so much more. All of these are good for the city and its citizens. And for the audience, while movies, television, and music are so accessible, live performances are special. Those other things don’t have the same intimacy or sense of participation that theater does.

Q: What’s the draw of community theater for those who participate?

  A: Theater gives people a place to be vulnerable, a place to feel safe and be artistic and creative. Adulthood is not always the most fun. Sometimes we forget what it’s like to play —
theater gives us permission to. You go from being mom or brother, doctor or teacher to Willy Wonka or the tree that sings or Colonel Mustard or a magic carpet. 

  It also is a nurturing, safe place to be risk-takers and advocates of diversity and truth, and a way to meet new, unique people you might not otherwise.


Q: What kinds of plays and musicals do you produce?

A: Our shows tell all kinds of stories, from the silly and fun (like, “Willy Wonka” and “Guys on Ice”) to the more serious (like, “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “A Piece of My Heart”) and even edgy, dark humor (such as “Witch”). So many stories that are important get pulled from libraries or scrutinized in various ways. Community theaters have a unique opportunity to share those things with the public. 

Q: How can interested people become involved or support the organization?

A: Visit our Facebook page for production and fundraiser dates and info. At our website you can sign up for our email newsletter and find out ways to sponsor/donate to us. A wonderful opportunity to meet us and see what we’re about is to come to our free Annual Summer Community Picnic on July 14 at 6 p.m. at Pottawattomie Park in Grand Haven. Share your interests or say, “I have no idea, tell me about it all” — then you can be a part of what we do. The next audition opportunity for adults will be for the fall show on August 7 and 8 at Central Park Place.


Q: What’s your favorite part of being involved?

A: As the president, I enjoy getting the word out about this gem of an organization. As a director, I like to sit back very quietly in the corner and see the faces and interactions, all of the joy. I get to see other families’ pride. And being a performer is fun — my last on-stage character was as the cook in “Alice in Wonderland.” My favorite role is to be assistant director/stage manager. I like being the righthand person. The joy I have from having helped someone reach a dream they’ve had is very meaningful to me.

See the Central Park Players’ Facebook page for the 2023-24 season line-up and details of a late August theatrical fundraiser.

Also, check out other these other nearby lakeshore community theatre groups:

Muskegon Civic Theatre | muskegoncivictheatre.org

Holland Community Theatre | thehollandcommunitytheatre.org