Players Circle Theatre has a three-fold mission: To create a home for a variety of theatre employing an ensemble of professionals; to become an outlet for community involvement in the arts; and to enrich, educate and entertain our community with classes and performances. We intend to fulfill that mission as a nonprofit organization that operates in a fiscally responsible manner and keeps its programming accessible to all.
Robert Cacioppo, Players Circle Producing Artistic Director and Co-Founder, was honored by the Florida Professional Theatres Association with the Richard G. Fallon Award for Excellence in Professional Theatre for his tenacity, vision, passion, and leadership for his work of creating professional theatre in the state of Florida. Other honors: Gulfshore Business Magazine as one of the Top 40 Influential Leaders; The News-Press’s 125 Influential Local Leaders in the past 125 years” and the recent “130 People of Influence” in Fort Myers; Angel of the Arts Award for Arts Organization Leader of the Year; Men and Women of the Year by Gulfshore Life Magazine. Founder of Florida Repertory Theatre under his leadership it received nine glowing reviews from The Wall Street Journal, being called “one of America’s top Repertory Theatre” multiple times.
Selected Florida Rep directing credits include over 85 productions since founding the company in 1998: Fascinatin’ Gershwin (which he also wrote, conceived, and directed. Performed in Florida Rep’s inaugural season and in January through March of 2015), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Murder at the Howard Johnson’s, Clybourne Park, Social Security, Miracle on South Division Street, Camping with Henry and Tom (which inaugurated the ArtStage Studio Theatre in 2012), Red, August: Osage County, 2010’s nationally-acclaimed production of You Can’t Take It with You, Boeing–Boeing, The Last Romance, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Rainmaker, Greetings!, Tuesdays with Morrie, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Soldier’s Tale (with Southwest Florida Symphony in 2003), Proof, Company, Over the Tavern, Over the River and Through the Woods, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Breaking Legs, Inherit the Wind, and Noises Off (1998 inaugural production and in 2010). Selected New York credits include: Hamlet at the Judith Anderson Theatre on Theatre Row, Our Town and Hair at Queens Theatre in the Park, and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest at Town Hall. He is a proud member of SDCS (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society)
Robert’s favorite direction is home, where he happily lives in Fort Myers with his wife, actress/producer (and co-founder of Players Circle), Carrie Lund. They are the proud parents of Matthew and Julia, who appear to be happy, healthy, and wise.
Carrie Lund Cacioppo, Co Founder, Managing Director and Actor of Players Circle Theatre, Co Founder, Associate Producer of Florida Rep Theatre in Ft Myers, FL 1998 to 2018 and founded the Pirate Playhouse professional theatre on Sanibel Island, in 1984 until her move to Ft Myers in 1998. After Carrie received a BFA of Acting and Directing from Ithaca College, she initiated services for the visually and hearing impaired that received international attention as Resident Artist at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. She served as Company Manager and acting member at the American Ibsen Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA and Managing Director for the Player’s Circle at LaGuardia College in NYC. Regionally she’s performed in theaters in New York, Vermont, North Carolina, Pennsylvania at Three River Shakespeare Festival, was Narrator for Ellis Island with the Naples Philharmonic and several PBS Untold Stories in Florida.
Her dedication to theatre for young audiences is realized through the many programs she developed and performed over the years: touring children’s theatre throughout New England with the Green Mountain Guild 1978, 1982 and1983 and the tri state area from her hometown of Erie, PA with The Company she created in 1977, the 1996-98 Pirate Playhouse Shakespeare Initiative, Co Chair of the 2000 Lee County Arts for a Complete Education Coalition.
In the past 35 years, Carrie produced and starred in over 100 productions. In Florida Rep’s 20th season she acted opposite Paxton Whitehead in How The Other Half Loves, and 19th season in the one woman show Erma Bombeck, At Wit’s End. She acted in all the Wall Street Journal reviewed shows at Florida Rep: House of Blue Leaves, Cocktail Hour, One Slight Hitch, Arsenic and Old Lace, Little Foxes, God Of Carnage, Sylvia, You Can’t Take It With You, and Dancing at Lughnasa, the world premieres George Washington’s Teeth, Doublewide, second productions of Heartsong, Last Romance, and other selected credits include Becky’s New Car, Tribes, Clybourne Park, August Osage County, Other Desert Cities, Enchanted April, Rabbit Hole, To Kill a Mockingbird, Noises Off, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, Rumors, All My Sons, I’m Not Rappaport, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Same Time Next Year, and Private Lives.
She is married 32 years to Robert Cacioppo who has been Producing Artistic Director of theatres in Florida and New York City and mother for 30 years to son and daughter, Matthew and Julia.
William Gregg, former Executive Producing Director, Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre; Professor Emeritus, Mars Hill University Theatre Arts
Since SART's inauguration in 1975 Bill wore many hats with SART – from actor to stage manager to company manager to director. The summer of 2001 was his first as Artistic Director, when he staged Noises Off, Lost Highway, and Frankie, which he co-authored with Perry Deane Young.
In last two decades Bill has directed SART productions of Lost in Yonkers, Arms and the Man, Shelton Laurel, The Spitfire Grill, Kiss Me Kate, Annie Get Your Gun, Of Mice and Men, Finding Clara (winner of the Silver Medal Printer Award), Steel Magnolias, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Accomplice, Hank Williams: Lost Highway, Taking a Chance on Love, God’s Man in Texas, To Kill A Mockingbird, Incorruptible, The Memory Collection, as well as the revival and tour of Shelton Laurel, The Miracle Worker, The Dixie Swim Club, Evita. A Tennessee Walk, Sweet Water Taste, A little Night Music, As you Like It, Funny Girl, Death Of A Salesman and Mountain of Hope, his second collaboration with Perry Deane Young. Their third play is Home Again, based on the last year of Thomas Wolfe’s life when he returned to Asheville prior to his untimely death.
Bill, supported production new plays through the Scriptworks playwright’s completion producing a winning play annually.
Prior to his tenure at Mars Hill University and SART, he was Producing Artistic Director of New American Theatre in Rockford, Illinois producing over 50 productions in both a Main Stage and Second Stage series. He also, created a new play completion, New Voices in the Heartland.
Bill served as Artistic Director for TheatreVirginia (LORT C), Richmond, where he staged Lettice and Lovage, As You Like It, Harvey, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Eleemosynary, Down the Road, Other People's Money, True West and Terra Nova which won best director, best production, best scenic design, and best supporting actor from the local Richmond critics. New Voices for the Theatre, a workshop for young playwrights grades 6 through 12, was established statewide during his tenure in order to discover and nurture the talents of theatre artists of the future.
Bill also served as Producing Artistic Director for the New Raft Theatre Company in NYC which was dedicated to the fostering of new previously unproduced plays and musicals.
As Associate Director and Production Manager for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (LORT B and C) he directed successful productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, You Can’t Take it With You, Steel Magnolias and Zelda, and produced All God’s Dangers with Cleavon Little, and the Atlanta production of Pump Boys and Dinettes which began a long standing association with the Dodger Producers of New York.
Other directing credits include the premiere reading of State of the Art and highly acclaimed productions of The Glass Menagerie and Driving Miss Daisy at GeVa Theatre in Rochester, NY and Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo, Plainsong at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Patsy...Shooting Star at the Houseman Theatre, NYC, as well as Fen and Hair at Auburn University.
At the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Bill was Production Stage Manager and Assistant Director for Artistic Director Liviu Ciulei, working with internationally renowned directors Liviu Ciulei, Andre Serban, Richard Forman, Michael Langham and Lucien Pintilie, among others.
There he directed the premiere of Daughters, by Martin Jones, Waiting for Godot, and The Woolgatherer for the Guthrie Studio Series.
Other directing credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rumors, Always, Patsy Cline, Othello, As You Like It, Tartuffe, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie, Peter Pan, Grace & Glorie, The Sunshine Boys, Pump Boys and Dinettes, and My Name is Rachel Corrie.
A graduate of Mars Hill University, Bill earned his MFA degree in Drama at the University of Virginia and is retired Professor of Theatre Arts from the MHU faculty and served as Chair from 2012-2015. For the University he has directed The Little Foxes, Anything Goes, Bye Bye Birdie, Story Theatre, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Tartuffe, The Crucible, Company, The Importance of Being Earnest, Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, The House of Bernarda Alba, The Dining Room, Noises Off, and Three Sisters, Jekyl and Hyde, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, The Laramie Project, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Clue, the Musical, among others. December 2008, Bill directed the world premiere musical production of Miracle in Bedford Falls, a co-production with SART and Mars Hill University, based on the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.
Bill is a Charter member and past President of the Rotary Club of Madison County. He credits as his mentors SART founder James W. Thomas and professors C. Robert Jones and Dr. Virgil Gray, Jr. for much of his success.
Bill resides in Mars Hill, NC with his wife, actress, singer and voiceover talent Elizabeth Aiello, and has three children; Cameron, an actor, and graduate of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University; Lucas, a filmmaking graduate of SCAD; and Emelia a sophomore in college. He enjoys daily walks with his Alaskan Malamute, Mya.
Board of Directors
Dr Gerald Laboda
Robert Cacioppo was born and raised in New York City and began his professional career in 1978 with The Passion of Alice at New York City’s famous Greenwich Mews Theatre. He directed extensively in New York City before coming to Florida 32 years ago, and since that time has become a leader in Southwest Florida’s Theatre movement. He became Artistic Director of the Pirate Playhouse in 1990 turning that company, at the time, into the area’s first resident Actors’ Equity Association Company and directing over 60 productions. He then co-founded and was Producing Artistic Director of Florida Repertory Theatre 1998-2018
Carrie Lund Cacioppo, a longtime resident of Southwest Florida, Carrie founded the Pirate Playhouse professional theatre on Sanibel Island, in 1984 until her move to Ft Myers in 1998. Co Founder, Associate Producer of Florida Rep Theatre in Ft Myers, FL 1998 to 2018. She received a distinguished citizen award in 1987 and a lifetime achievement award in 1997 from the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce; Florida Weekly 2011 Best Actress and 2012 Power Women of Lee County. She also served as a theatre faculty member at Florida Gulf Coast University for three years, taught theatre for Cypress Lake Middle School for the Arts and directed SOURCE Teen Theatre for Planned Parenthood.
Denise Wheeler Wright is an attorney who has been practicing law for over 25 years, primarily representing employers with compliance issues and in disputes with their employees. Recently she founded Wright Mediation, Inc. and currently is a full-time mediator of all types of civil disputes. Denise also conducts workplace investigations.
David Wright is a Senior Vice President at Sanibel Captiva Community Bank in charge of their Residential Lending Division. He has lived and worked in Lee County since 1984 and has enjoyed all of the Cacioppo/Lund theater adventures in South West Florida. David served on the boards of the Ding Darling Wildlife Society, F.I.S.H. and Sanibel and Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce.
Sandra Stilwell Youngquist is CEO and owner of Stilwell Enterprises & Restaurant Group, owning 6 restaurants, Inns, Marina and Shopping Centers based out of Captiva Island, Ft Myers and Conch Key. She has been self Employed since 17 years old. She is President of SWFL Children’s Charities (SWFL Wine Fest), co-Chairing the 2020 SWFL Winefest. Secretary of Hope Hospice Healthcare, Junior Achievement, Past President of Pace Center for Girls, Current Board of Trustees of Hodges University, Advisory Editorial Board of Gulfshore Life Magazine, Advisory Board of FGCU Resort and Hospitality School -School of Business. She also serves on Healthy Lee, an Advisory Board For Lee Memorial Health Systems and is Co-Chairing the Ronald McDonald House of SWFL’s expansion project with Jim Nathan, retired CEO of Lee Health.
Sandra most recently was awarded The Lifetime Achievement Award by Gulfshore Business Magazine and was a Junior Achievement Hall of Fame Laureate in 2017.
FRANCES C. FENNING Long time supporter of the Arts and a Recipient of the Peggy Wilcox Award, Gulfshore Life Woman of the Year, Philanthropy, Florida Arts Recognition Award by the State of Florida, Angel of the Arts and Hearts for ACT. Also, has served on several Art and Foundation Boards
Howard L. Wheeler II is the President and Owner of Chris-Tel Construction in Fort Myers, Florida. A fourth generation Floridian, Howard attended Tice Elementary, Lee Middle School and graduated from Riverdale High School in 1984.
Since he was a child, Howard worked for his family in the construction business. From a pushing a broom when he was five years old to assisting the masons at age 10, Howard certainly learned a thing or two about hard work. After years of working for the family business, Howard applied and took the State of Florida General Contractor’s test and passed. He was only 19 years old at the time and quite possibly the youngest person to date to receive his GC license in Florida. At age 22, Howard left the family business and started his own construction management company, Chris-Tel Construction. Since 1989, Howard has been at the helm of the firm building some of the most recognizable and iconic structures in Lee County.
In 1993, Howard began taking classes to become a private pilot and in 2014, he became more serious about flying and took the required classes and lessons to acquire his pilot’s license. Howard is certified in Single Engine Land (SEL) and Multi-Engine Land (MEL), Complex and High-Performance Aircraft Certification and holds his Instrument Rating Certification.
Aside from his private pilot’s license and certification, Howard has his NAUI Certified Open Water Diving License and has previously held a license in Real Estate, his Series 7 and his Insurance and Variable Annuity License.
Howard is no stranger to giving back and is a strong advocate with deep roots and a personal connection to Fort Myers and Lee County. He fully realizes that businesses in Southwest Florida are only as strong as the communities they come from. Having built his business literally one brick at a time, he is a strong believer in charitable contributions. Howard has donated his time, effort and finances towards admirable causes throughout Southwest Florida and statewide. He is currently a board member for the Foundation of the Lee County Schools, a previous board member for the Florida Repertory Theatre, and was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve as a member of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Howard is also a member of community organizations such as the Real Estate Investment Society (REIS), the Associated Builders and Contractors Gulf Coast Chapter, the Lee Building Industry Association and Horizon Council and has sponsored countless events for the PACE Center for Girls, the Boys and Girls Club of Lee County, Florida Gulf Coast University, the Lee County School District and the Uncommon Friends Foundation to name a few.
Howard currently resides in Fort Myers, Florida with his wife Connie.
Founders In The Inaugural Season
Above and Beyond
Every single donation, every single donor, makes a huge impact on our artists and our community. Here are a few of our amazing donors who have made a difference for Players Circle Theatre and for our audiences! Join them in supporting us today!
Executive Producer Circle $20,000+
Jane & Bob Breisch, Sustainer
Dave & Cheryl Copham
Sue Ann Pirsch
Gene & Lee Seidler
James & Donna Sublett
Steve & Vicki Zellner, Sustainer
Producer Circle $10,000+
Carol & James Allegretti and Karen
Pam Cronin, First Founder
Director Circle 5000+
Gloria & John Fassett
Vici & Russ Hamm
David & Anne Lund
Peter & Amy Lund
Lee Moore & Dee Whited
FineMark National Bank & Trust
Actor Circle $1000+
Eugene & Marjorie Bilotti
Alan & Jacquelin Cadkin
Pason & Renee Gaddis
Dr. Eugene & Joan Markham
Robert Randell & Kassie Whitte
Judith & Caroline Reich
Roy & Barbara Silvers
Michael Stepto & Joan Maupin
Sanibel Captiva Community Bank
Mordechi & Michal Wiesler