Thoughts of Thanks

The director’s chair in the corner office where Campbell and Center Streets intersect affords me a bird’s eye view of all things Palace related.  From my perspective and from all that I hear and see through my role at the Theatre, I am unswervingly convinced that we have so very much for which to be grateful.

And it is from that idea that I launch this month’s article.

I am grateful for the privilege we have to impact lives through the performing arts.  Our mission as an organization is to: foster appreciation, education and participation in the arts, while preserving and promoting the historic Palace Theatre.  Some lives are touched through the activities that take place IN this historic facility and others with this amazing facility itself.

During a recent meeting, I was able to sit back and listen to a conversation between two people who were little more than acquaintances.  The topic of their conversation grabbed my attention, as they were each reliving their first experience related to the Palace Theatre.  One was gripped by his stage experience and the other by the beauty of this building while part of the audience at a School Matinee performance.   The thing that captured me and pulled me in was the enthusiasm in their voices and the light in their eyes.  They were remembering those experiences as if they were yesterday, when in reality they were nearly 30 years ago.

The Palace has a way of doing that, weaving its way into your heart and joining you to those who have also experienced the magic of this place, whether from the stage or as a patron.

In mid-October, we wrapped up production on a first for the Palace….an all youth (junior) musical.  Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Jr. had a cast of 66 youth ages 8-14 who spent eight weeks preparing to take the stage.  When that time finally arrived and the curtain opened on their production, they received the applause they deserved.  What an outstanding show!  But something else happened that we couldn’t see.

A light came on inside them.  The kind of light that I saw in those gentlemen’s eyes during that recent conversation I relayed earlier in this story.  I saw it in their eyes, too.  I’m convinced this was a life changing event for many of them.  I think we created some “lifers,” if you will.  They will, now and forever, love the Palace for the experiences they had and the memories they made, and hopefully one day they, too, will be reliving magical memories of their first Palace experience.

And speaking of “lifers,” what an awesome privilege I had to hear stories from three of the seven 1975 Palace Guard during a recent tour of the Theatre.  John Keggan, Steve Stuart, and Frank Henson reunited to speak to the Leadership Marion class.  They shared memories of their adventures as they worked together 38 years ago to save the Marion Palace Theatre for future generations.  They were an inspiration.  I am grateful these men are still with us to share this valuable history and to remind us of the value of this organization.  Thank you hardly seems enough for all their efforts.

Someone recently told me, “You have the best job in the world.”  And they were right.  I certainly do have a wonderful job.  I am grateful for the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people who share their talent as directors, musicians, actors, dancers, and backstage crew.  I am so grateful for the multi-generational performers who make themselves at home on the Palace stage.  From Mermaid to Christmas at the Palace the ages will span from 5 to 80.  We are writing history and impacting lives.  What a blessing.

On a different note, it has been a little noisier than usual around the office.  And for good reason.  While the pedestrian scaffolding has become a familiar part of the landscape out in front of the building, the overall image of the Palace has drastically changed.  In the early part of October, a huge crane and a flatbed trailer pulled up along Center Street for the removal of the vertical Palace sign.  It has been carefully stored until Quality Masonry Company, the restoration company, can determine if it can be refurbished or needs replaced.  Additionally, while I’m writing this column, a jack hammer is humming high above my office as the process for removing the façade wall terra cotta and masonry is now officially underway.  Once that process is complete, we’ll know more about what we’re up against with this project.  Believe it or not, this project also makes my gratitude list.

I’m so very thankful for a board of directors who cares about the long term impact of this facility and its activities.  Because they believe in the value of the performing arts and the experiences offered through this historic theatre, they have embarked on a monumental task.  We will save the Palace…again.  Not because it will be an easy undertaking, but because it is of great consequence to us today and to the generations to follow us.

So let me wrap this up.  I’m a fan of fall for many reasons; among them are sweatshirts and sweaters, colorful leaves, crisp cool air, Ohio State football and the Palace season hitting full stride.  I’m also a fan of fall because I love Thanksgiving.  It’s my favorite holiday.  It’s the perfect time to slow down and name your blessings one by one.  So if I had the space, I’d do just that.  But since I don’t, I’ll summarize.

Here at the Palace, we are grateful for a wonderful, hard-working staff; a board of directors who offer guidance; sponsors, grantors, and foundations who see what we’re trying to do here and help us get it done; members who contribute annually to keep these doors open and the operations humming along; patrons who love what takes place on stage and support it by purchasing tickets; and volunteers who work tirelessly to keep it all happening. We count your participation and support among our biggest blessings.

In short, I am grateful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The column was written by Bev Ford, Executive Director of the Marion Palace Theatre.

About Marion Palace Theatre

This historic Marion Palace Theatre located in downtown Marion, Ohio was built by John Eberson in 1928. Over his lifetime, Eberson and his son built hundreds of theatres. The Marion Palace is one of approximately 18 Eberson atmospheric theatres still left standing in the world.

This cultural home is offers a diverse range of year round entertainment opportunities including live performances, movies, educational school matinees, theatre camps and more. More information at