Despite its name, Prince George's County Little Theatre isn't all that small anymore.
The theater's amateur actors are celebrating the institution's 25th anniversary; there are nearly 100 active members and the budget for the next production is $5,000 -- a far cry from the $100 spent on the first play in 1960.
A handful of county residents who called themselves the Carrollton Players raised the money in 1960 with a fashion show to finance a play called "White Sheep of the Family."
Over the next two decades, the troupe has regularly presented such plays as "Picnic" and "Stalag 17" at local high school and church auditoriums.
The thespians quickly acquired a steady stream of financial donations to keep them going.
The name of the group has since changed and it now has a permanent home at the Prince George's Publick Playhouse in Cheverly.
Many of the original members are still participating.
The first play of 1985 will be a revival of the musical "Anything Goes," which the troupe first performed in 1969. Several cast members will be recreating roles they played 15 years ago.
Some members see the Little Theatre as a station on their way to professional careers as actors, directors and stage hands. But for theater-lovers who also want to "have a family life" outside the stage, "Little Theatre is a way to have that," said Eugenia Sorgnit, 62, an original member who will star in "Anything Goes."
"When you don't have to earn a living at something, it can be a lot of fun," said Roney Shawe, 53, also a charter member.
The group considers itself an inexpensive and nearby alternative to the District's theaters.
"We provide live theater at a cost the average person can afford, and it's closer to home for some," Shawe said.
Among those who took note of the Little Theatre's birthday was a former actor who is now in government.
"I know that your fellow citizens approve of your commitment to extending the magic of the stage to as wide and diverse of an audience as possible," President Reagan said in a letter that was read at a recent celebration. "Nancy joins me in sending you best wishes on this milestone."
The group also received citations from Gov. Harry Hughes and the Maryland State House of Delegates.