Mary Jane

Join us in honoring our beloved friend


The Rhode Center family lost a dear friend in the passing of gifted actor, director and theater advocate, Mary Jane Davis Dodds Carter, who took her final bow in December, 2015.



In honor of Mary Jane’s many significant contributions to the Lakeside Players Inc., our generations of audiences, and to the theater community at large, the Lakeside Players Inc. Board of Directors will celebrate Mary Jane’s life with a memorial fund to continue her legacy of support. The proceeds of this special fundraising effort will be used to enhance the lighting capabilities of the Donna Wolf Steigerwaldt auditorium, a theatrical space that Mary Jane knew very well. 


We are grateful to share with you that Mary Jane's husband, Colin, has generously agreed to match all donations up to $2,000 in loving memory of Mary Jane.


Click here to contribute today.


Contributions via postal mail may made payable to Lakeside Players Inc. and addressed to:

Lakeside Players Inc. | Jane Meyers, Treasurer | 514 56th Street | Kenosha, WI 53140


About Mary Jane

Mary Jane Davis was born on July 20th 1929 in Chicago, but moved at an early age to Kenosha, where her father worked for the Simmons Company.  Her childhood was spent in Kenosha - she attended Durkee Elementary School, Lincoln Junior High School and Bradford High School, where she graduated in 1948.

She made her acting debut in 1947 at the Kenosha Little Theatre, a direct ancestor of Lakeside Players, playing the part of Grazia in “Death Takes Holiday”.  She was in several more plays there and at Northwestern University in Evanston.  When her family moved to Kansas City in 1950, she studied English and Drama at the University of Kansas City, graduating in 1955 (BA) and 1957 (MA).  During that time, she was in several plays, including “The Importance of Being Ernest”, “Twelfth Night”, “The Rose Tattoo”, “Bell Book and Candle”, “The Lady's Not for Burning”, and “Streetcar Named Desire”.  The local paper enthused over her performance as Ariel in “The Tempest”, comparing her to Mary Martin.


In 1958, while working as Assistant Director at the Kansas City Lyric Opera, she met a young tenor named David Dodds.  They married the same year and moved, first to Boston and then to New York.  (They later divorced.)  Mary Jane continued her theatrical career in New York City (she directed “Murder in the Cathedral” at St. Mark's Church in Queens) and in Port Chester, where she joined the Connecticut Playmakers – acting in “You Can't Take It With You” and “Steel Magnolias” and directing “Lion In Winter” and “Glass “Menagerie”. In Providence Rhode Island, she was in “I Hate Hamlet” and “Arsenic and Old Lace”.


In 1995, Mary Jane returned to her home town of Kenosha and immediately become involved with Lakeside Players.  Her acting roles here included “Later Life”, “Foxfire” and “Steel Magnolias”.  She also directed “Postmortem”, “Talley's Folly”, “The Dining Room” and “Terra Nova”.  This last play was in 2006, a somewhat symmetrical ending to a remarkable theatrical career spanning nearly 60 years and involving around 100 shows!


Mary Jane served on the Lakeside Board from 2000 to 2003.  For many years, she was in charge of publicity and was also on the Play Reading Committee.  Even after she married Colin Carter and moved to Racine, they often attended performances and other events at the Rhode.

- Summary above provided by Mr. Colin Carter



Highlight of Mary Jane's Connection with Lakeside Players Inc.


October 1947
Mary Jane makes her acting debut at Kenosha Little Theatre, a direct ancestor of Lakeside Players Inc., as Grazia in Death Takes a Holiday.


"Miss Mary Jane Davis, who makes her first appearance in a Little Theatre Production, although she took part in the recreation department's pageant last Summer, will no doubt become an important figure in future productions.  Her first role, and a stellar feminine one at that, was given a portrayal that is seldom equaled by adults with years of training and experience.  She gave the part an ethereal quality and grace, so necessary to its portrayal, and combined it with an intelligent comprehension.”  - Kenosha News


December 1947
Mary Jane appears again in a Kenosha Little Theatre production, this time as Mary Skinner in Life With Father.


“Mary Skinner, the first sweetheart everyone wishes for, is Clarence's girl.  Mary Jane, with the grace of a ballerina, the heart of a great actress, coaxes Mary Skinner pettily into the blooming rose-blush of first love.  Mark it in your little book you saw Mary Jane in “Life With Father”' the same translucent personality who floated halfway between earth and heaven in “Death takes a Holiday”. - Kenosha News


February 1996
Mary Jane serves as Assistant Director with Director Terry Lawler on the Lakeside Players Inc. production of The Foreigner


June 1996
Mary Jane appears on stage at the Rhode under the direction of Michael Johnson in the Lakeside Players Inc., production of Later Life


October 1996
Mary Jane makes her Lakeside Players Inc. directorial debut with the production Postmortem


April 1997
Mary Jane plays Annie Nations in the Lakeside Players Inc. production of Foxfire under the direction of Philip Jaegar


October 1997
Mary Jane directs Talley's Folly for Lakeside Players Inc.


Mary Jane directs The Dining Room; serves on the Publicity Commitee and the Play Reading Committee; helps to gather furniture for the production of Laura; coordinates props for A Shot in The Dark and Dial M for Murder; contributes to set decorating and/or construction for The Odd Couple, War of the Worlds, and Holiday


Mary Jane is elected to the Lakeside Players Inc. Board of Directors for a 3-year term


Mary Jane returns to the Rhode stage as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie (a staged reading) and as Oiser in Steel Magnolias, under the direction of Terry Lawler


Lakeside Players Inc. recognizes Mary Jane with award for Backstage Volunteer of the Year


Mary Jane serves as diction coach for the Lakeside Players Inc. production of Hamlet and organizes the New Year's Eve Party to celebrate the Rhode's 75th Anniversary


Mary Jane designs the set for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


After a successful 3-year term, Mary Jane's service on the Board of Directors draws to a close


Mary Jane directs the Lakeside Players Inc. production of Visit from St. Nicholas with Colin Carter's daughter, Kirsten, playing the role of Harriet


Mary Jane directs the Lakeside Players Inc. production of Terra Nova 


Mary Jane and Colin Carter continue to support the mission of Lakeside Players Inc., regularly attending productions and providing guidance to directors, actors and leadership


Mary Jane is recognized by Lakeside Players Inc. by earning Lifetime Membership status, a unanimous decision by the Board of Directors and overwhelmingly supported by the Active Membership



Campaign Progress 

Graph of Fundraising Progress



  • Allendale Academy Child Care Center*
  • Anonymous Donor
  • Chris and Julie Brouton
  • Joe and Melissa Cardamone
  • Mike Jenkins and Ann Marie Schmidt
  • Laura Larson*
  • Liz Trimbach and Alfred Kobacker*


*Signifies donors contributing $100 or more



Continue Mary Jane's Legacy


We welcome the occasion to hear from you. If you have any questions about how your support will be used to advance the mission of Lakeside Players Inc. in memory of Mary Jane and in consultation with Mr. Colin Carter, please contact us.