Palace Theatre Celebrates 95 years with Inspired by Downton Abbey Style Show
The Palace Theater in Marlin held a Inspired by Downton Abbey Style Show, which took place on Saturday, Feb. 29, in celebration of the 95th anniversary of the magnificent venue.
Downton Abbey is a British historical drama television series set in the early 20th century. It depicts the life of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era. The Grand Dame, Maggie Smith, known for her role as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series along with many others, plays Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, whom is the matriarchal head of the family. The movie was recently transformed into a film version as well.
The series and Smith's role in it give an accurate visual of the time period in which the Palace Theatre was built. During the sold-out show, guests were presented with interactions as if they were in the period themselves. The theatre was decorated to the nines to mimic the grand dining hall of Highclere Castle, the real-life castle in England where Downton Abbey was filmed. Servers were dressed as house staff, uniforms and all. Additionally, the stage was set with various period clothing pieces strewn about over a sitting room vignette.
Models took to the stage to show off period looks from the 1920s, '30s, and '40s while attendees enjoyed the three-course luncheon.
Mildred Wilson was struck by the beauty.
“The bride was absolutely gorgeous,” she gushed. “And we maids had fun.”
Behind them, photos of various outfits and clothing pieces scrolled across the movie screen.
“It was a very beautiful show,” said Terri Glover, who is frequently involved with the theater.
All of the vintage clothing presented was donated to The Palace Theatre by various patrons throughout the years. Models were Andrea Bredemeyer, Blair Brown, Madison Campbell, Maggie Curry, Hannah Herbst, jill Herbst, mily Henson, Kate Kelley, Kodilynn Kluck, Tori McIntosh, hannah Rose, Ellie Tate, Jillian Thoele, Sumerton Zbranek, and the Honorable Judge Debra Trotter.
History of the Palace Theatre
In 1912, the “Majestic” Theater was born in Marlin, built by a “Mr. Christian.” It sat on Railroad Street, now Heritage Row, and showed Birth of a Nation as it's first film. The building was later purchased by film connoisseur J.C. Chatmas.
Chatmas moved to Marlin in the early 1900s and quickly became involved with the local theater. When another of his similar entrepreneurial ventures, the Orpheum Opera House, burned down in 1921, he decided that the Majestic was in need of renovation to avoid a similar fate.
He bought the building in 1924 and because of the condition of disarray, Chatmas decided it would be in best interest to tear the whole thing down and start from scratch.
Construction on The Palace Theatre was completed in 1925.
The venue was host to a number of vaudeville acts and silent films during Marlin's healing water booms in the first half of the 1900s. It was during that point in time that thousands were visiting Marlin; seeking cures to many obscure ailments they faced. Rumor has it that Bonnie and Clyde used to hide out in the (now unused) apartments behind the theater in the 1930s.
Other tales include a prohibition-era speakeasy, famous visitors, and even stories on theater ghosts.
J.C. Chatmus ran the place with the help of his right-hand man, Casey, until his death in 1966, but it was operated by family members for another nine years after such time. The Chatmus Family held onto the theater until 1980, when it was donated to the First Presbyterian Church of Marlin.
In 1981, the Marlin Palace Theater Center, Inc, a non-profit group dedicated to the restoration and revitalization of the arts, was formed. With the help of the community, restorations began on the roof, along with the electrical, sound, and audio systems.
Sporadic fundraising events were held until the early 2010s, when a regular event schedule was brought back. Kitchens were added, making it the perfect place to hold meals. The original seats have been taken out, but were preserved and are used sporadically.
The building is also home to a small museum area that holds bits and pieces of not only Marlin history, but film history too. There are objects such as vintage backdrops, old ticket machines, and even original lighting fixtures. Through the decline of Marlin, the Palace Theatre never gave up hope of bringing the art of performance to the community.
It continues to host comedy shows, dinner theaters, festivals, plays, and even unique events such as Paranormal University or Tarot readings.
Explore the 95-year-old theater with the help of local experts in the paranormal. You will get hands-on instruction in the use of several paranormal tools of the trade such as dowsing rods as well as more modern tools including SB-7 and SB-11 “Ghost Boxes”, full-spectrum cameras, EMF meters, thermal cameras, SLS cameras and software programs like The Portal, Divination Box, SCD-1, and Impossible Box. Follow along on March 21 at 7 p.m.; you might even meet Casey!
Comedy Dinner Theater
There are two Comedy Dinner Theater plays per year – one in the spring, one in the fall. Each one has four performances. It entails a full meal served along with a fantastic performance by area stage lovers. This year's first play will be performed on Friday and Saturday, May 8-9 and May 15-16, while the second play will be Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16-17 and Oct. 23-24. There are 120 tickets available per performance.
There will be an Elvis Tribute at the Palace Theatre. The event will feature, not one, but two Elvis' Live On Stage. This event will be held Saturday Aug. 15. More details to come!
For more information about the work The Palace Theater is doing or to find event tickets, you can check out their website at https://palacetheatremarlin.com/ or follow the action on Facebook at “The Palace Theatre Marlin, Texas – Events.”