FALMOUTH — As a founding member of Lyric Theatre, Virginia “Ginnie” Charlton was a longtime supporter of the performing arts in Greater Portland.

“She liked having her hand in things,” when it came to performances at the Lyric Music Theatre or with the Portland Players, friend Ed Reichert said. “She was always attracted to young people who were talented.”

Mrs. Charlton died Sunday. She was 92.

Reichert, who met Mrs. Charlton when he directed “Sweeney Todd” at Portland Players in 1990, recalled Tuesday how she fostered his growth as a director and performer when he co-produced “Closer Than Ever” at Mad Horse Theatre Company.

“Ginnie just fell in love with the show and music,” he said, and showed her support through volunteering at the box office.

A Portland native, Mrs. Charlton graduated from Deering High School and later Westbrook College. She was a medical technician at Maine Medical Center’s Cardiac Catherization Lab, and was always “wonderfully sweet and loved everybody,” friend Sally Hadley said.

As an active member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Mrs. Charlton was known to gather a group of friends together on the first Saturday of every month to attend the roast beef suppers, Hadley said.

“She was also known for her wonderful chocolate cream pie,” she said. “She always brought two, but everybody at the table had to have a piece. There wasn’t much left over.”

Over the years, Mrs. Charlton owned three Dalmatians, all of which were named Alfie.

“She just kept having Alfies because she missed the first one so much,” Hadley said.

Many people knew her from the walks she took with Alfie in Evergreen Cemetery in Portland, Reichert said.

“People would ask me, ‘How’s your friend with the Dalmatian?’“

Frequently, he said, Alfie would accompany Mrs. Charlton and her husband, Robert, to their work in local theaters, their passion for some 40 years.

They were both remembered for their roles in “On Golden Pond.”

He died in 1992.

“There are only two people in that show,” Hadley said. “She and her husband carried the whole show and did a marvelous job.”

Mrs. Charton worked on countless shows, whether onstage or behind the scenes. She was assistant director to Joe Thomas for most of his career and would work backstage during performances in which her husband had a role.

As Reichert took over directing with the Portland Players, he said he continued to keep Mrs. Charlton involved.

During the 75th anniversary gala of the Portland Players in 2006, Mrs. Charlton was one of 16 inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame.

During the same event, her husband was inducted posthumously.

The honor recognized actors and actresses who have appeared onstage, as well as people who made an impact behind the scenes, according to a Portland Press Herald report.

Mrs. Charlton’s dedication to the theater also was evident in her commitment to the priniciple that the show must go on.

During her performance in “How Now, Dow Jones,” Mrs. Charlton’s petticoat slip fell down around her ankles, friend and fellow actress Ellen Lefevre remembered.

“It just slipped down while she was onstage,” Lefevre said. “She just stepped out of it and carried on.”


Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]