A theatrical love letter to historic Langley and its centennial opens at WICA Jan. 26

Posted in Feature, Festivals, Theater and Dance

Whidbey Life Magazine

“History” is an operative word this year for Langley as the Village by the Sea celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Langley Main Street Association (LMSA) has lots in store for the centennial year, including a very special event at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley this Saturday, Jan. 26.

“Langley Life: 1890-1980, A Centennial Celebration” begins with a wine and cheese reception and photo exhibit featuring never-before-published historic photos of Langley at 6 p.m. in the WICA lobby, with the curtain going up on the show at 7:30 p.m. on WICA’s Michael Nutt mainstage.  The performance is based on the work of local authors Bob Waterman and Frances Wood, whose book “Langley” was the basis for the original script, created by Waterman and local storyteller Jill Johnson, along with a dedicated production team of local South Whidbey talents.

As LMSA supporter and Langley resident Bob Frause said, summing up the big picture of his town and what folks have in store for it: “100 years is a good beginning.” LMSA seems to have taken that line and run with it, considering the work it has been doing to bring Langley into focus.

From left, volunteers Anne Waterman, Bob Waterman, Bob Thurmond and Rene Neff  stand behind historic Langley figure cut-outs that will be used for the centennial celebrations this year, including Ester Monson, Stanley Hunziker and Ed Howard. (Photo courtesy of LMSA)

From left, volunteers Anne Waterman, Bob Waterman, Bob Thurmond and Rene Neff stand behind historic Langley figure cut-outs that will be used for the centennial celebrations this year, including Ester Monson, Stanley Hunziker and Ed Howard (and one unidentified lady). (Photos courtesy of LMSA)

Langley Main Street Association is a community revitalization project that is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation with 50 members who are on a mission to revitalize Langley as a valuable historic small town.  It was officially designated by the Washington Main Street Association in May 2012. Being designated allows businesses to donate to the association and receive a B&O Tax credit of 75 percent of its donation.

Janet Ploof is president of the association and Michaela Marx Wheatley is its program manager and the organization’s only paid staff member. The nonprofit works with a nine member volunteer board of directors guiding four committees: Economic Revitalization, Organization and Fundraising, Design and Promotion.

“We promote Langley as the small, artsy, bookish seaside historic town that it is,” Ploof said.

Together, Ploof and Wheatley have been organizing an ambitious schedule of events that kicked off this year with a New Year’s Eve bonfire next to the Dog House Tavern and the Seafloat Scramble on Langley’s beachfront on the first Saturday of 2013, which did exactly what the association intended: It filled the Langley shopping area with lots of tourists and shoppers through the weekend.

“The Langley Main Street Association is a great group of people, who all work together to bring out the best of Langley,” Wheatley said.

“So you will find us digging up the flower beds and planting bulbs, decorating for the holidays or putting on a fun event. But we’re also interested in preserving our history and our historic architecture.”

History is what it’s all about this year in Langley and the stage play, “Langley Life: 1890-1980,” may offer some surprise insights into the history of Langley for newcomers and old timers alike. For example, it might interest folks to know that Langley elected an all-women administration immediately after federal law allowed women to vote in 1919.

“Langley Life: 1890-1980” uses Waterman’s and Wood’s book and local community actors to take a first-hand look at Langley’s history through the eyes of Walter Hunziker, an early Langley resident, as well as his friends and family. The show uses historical photographs and music to bring Langley’s history to life on stage. The 90-minute production is co-sponsored by the South Whidbey Historical Society and Langley Historic Preservation Commission. The cast includes Tom Churchill, Gail Fleming, Sophie Frank, Jill Johnson, Mike McVay, Ken Martinez, Mully Mullally, Sara Saltee, Amelia Weeks and Waterman.

Waterman and Wood will also be on hand to sell and sign their book “Langley”— a collection of photos and stories spanning Langley’s early days through the 1970s.

Tickets are available on the day of the show at the door. Suggested donation is $10 for adults and $5 for youths. All proceeds benefit LMSA.

For more information, contact Waterman at 360-221-8644 or the Langley Main Street Association at 360-929-9333 or email mainstreet@whidbey.com.

Visit the LMSA website for more information about the association.

Here is a schedule of events planned by LMSA and other Langley organizations for the celebratory centennial year in Langley:

  • Saturday, Jan. 26 – “Langley Life: 1890-1980”
  • Monday, Feb. 4 – Anniversary of First Town Hall
  • Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 23 to Feb. 24 – Mystery Weekend takes a vintage 1913 theme
  • Friday, March  15 – “The Women Who Shaped Langley” with Frances Wood at Langley Library
  • Saturday, March 16 – History of Langley Treasure Hunt game for families
  • Saturday, May 11 – Women Suffrage Parade / Street Theater in downtown Langley
  • Sunday, May 12  – Mother’s Day Tea, circa 1913, at the South Whidbey Commons
  • Saturday, May 25 – History of the Marina Talk (location TBA)
  • July 5-7 – Choochokam Arts festival in Langley space of the “Langley Life: 1890-1980” photo exhibit and a story corner for Langleyites to tell their histories
  • Thursday, Aug. 15  – “Langley Centennial Day” at the Whidbey Island Area Fair at the fairgrounds
  • Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Aug. 2-25  – Island Shakespeare Festival presents “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Storyhouse Stage in Clinton and at the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds
  • Thursday to Sunday, Sept. 19-22 – DjangoFest Northwest at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts
  • Saturday, Sept. 21  – Soup Box Derby on First Street in Langley, a centennial edition, circa 1913

(Pictured at top, Janet Ploof and Bob Waterman with cut-out figures of early Langley residents, Stanley Hunziker and Ed Howard.)


Patricia Duff is an award-winning journalist whose popular Duff ‘n Stuff blog appears every Tuesday morning on Whidbey Life Magazine.

If you’d like to see this magazine continue to cover stories like this one on the arts and culture of Whidbey Island, consider becoming a member of Whidbey Life Magazine or support it by buying an ad, making a donation or becoming a sponsor.


Leave a Reply