Charles Weldon, a prolific actor and director who was artistic director of The Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) since 2005, died December 7 at age 78.
Following a short but successful singing career as the lead singer and singer-songwriter with the chart-topping Paradons, Weldon turned to acting in the 1960s. He appeared in the original San Francisco production of Hair, and in Oscar Brown, Jr.'s 1969 Broadway musical Buck White starring Mohammed Ali.
Weldon joined NEC in 1970, performing in productions of Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier's Play (1982) as well as his play The Brownsville Raid (1975);The Great MacDaddy by Paul Carter Harrison (1973); and the Tony-winning Broadway production of Joseph A. Walker's The River Niger (1972). His last stage appearance with NEC was a starring role in NEC's 50th anniversary production of Douglas Turner Ward's A Day of Absence in 2016.
Weldon succeeded Ward, co-founder of NEC, as artistic director in 2005.
As a director, Weldon directed the company's productions of Colored People Time by Leslie Lee, The Waiting Room by Samm-Art Williams, Savanna Black and Blue by Raymond Jones, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men by Lonne Elder, and Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water by Michael A. Jones. He helmed the company's 50th anniversary revival of A Soldier's Play, first presented at Theatre 80 St. Marks in fall 2017 and subsequently remounted at the Gene Frankel Theatre earlier this year.
Weldon also directed and acted prolifically in regional theaters including Denver Theater Center, where he appeared in twelve productions.
Weldon was born June 1, 1940, in Wetumka, Oklahoma. He is the recipient of a HENRY (Excellence in Regional Theater) for Best Supporting Actor in August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean, and an Audelco Award for Best Supporting Actor in Wilson's Seven Guitars.