No Exit -“A touch of class” Lorain

January 15, 2015 at 2:09 pm 7 comments


On the mirrors ( at least the last time I looked) in the outer lobby of the Palace Theatre Lorain is a list of donors. Among those that donated significantly is the mention of Palace Players

The Palace Players, an intrepid band of actors and actresses from the local community. At the core were Jean Schaeffer, Dave Cotton, Casey Wolnowski, Karen Kelley and yours truly. The “company” got together to specifically raise funds for the Palace.

The kick off , as described in the history of the Palace on their website mentions what happened, in 1974 and my introduction to Lorain and a great bunch of people. Yes! I served the lunches along with Barb MacGregor, Ruth Calta, Mary Lou Connone
This immigrant to Lorain- made the soups and generally helped those great bunch of people – thanks to my introduction to Lorain via Jean Schaeffer and was involved in the “speakeasy” segment of the gala night.

The Palace was and is still a major “player” in determining Lorain’s downtown -

In 1974, “Civic Center Madness”, a major fund raising project, took place in the urban renewal area of north Broadway. Forty civic groups participated in this week long street fair, Stores soon to be torn down were converted as if by magic into an old fashioned ice cream parlor, a “Second-Hand Rose” shop, a casino, a book and plant store, an open air barbecue, international shops, etc. The Saturday night “Great Gatsby Party” at the Palace climaxed the week’s activities.

Theatre was all important to the culture of the area. Most of us didn’t have a lot of money , those band of thespians, but what they did have was a love of theatre and the Palace – so the Palace Players formed.

One production – loosely based on a Dinner with Henry the VIII– took place on the Palace stage

Cover Arcade  MJ

Cover Arcade MJ

We had to be creative , in order to raise money for the building, we couldn’t interfere with the daily running of the Palace. Creative , especially as to performance space we were given. One criteria was that no “set” set – everything had to be put up an hour before the show ( each performance night) and the set had to be struck each night.
ipalace seats

Educating Rita– we did that in a mini proscenium set up in the area behind the seats, using one of the archways with the drinking fountain as the dressing rooms and off stage. I was Rita and it was an education !

palce bar

Two shows were performed in the inner lobby in front of the bar – The Fantasticks - A young Mike Skimmin, Melissa Driscoll and Billy the Clown were part of that “company”. Imagine a musical in the lobby- however did we manage the music????- but we did.

The other show No Exit– a depiction of the afterlife in which three deceased characters are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity ( done as theatre in the round). Memorable to me about those performances was we had to share the theatre for a few performances with an action movie playing on the” big screen” – the louder sounds such as crashes, screams and gunfire bled through into our performance area . Our audience was told to ignore as that was just another room in hell.

Hell is other people”,a reference to Sartre’s ideas about the look and the perpetual ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object in the world of another consciousness.”

We were involved , that group participated and performed with such productions as the Follies and – Lorain Community Music Theatre
when it was “truly Lorain” and performed their musicals every year on the Palace stage. Organizations benefitted greatly from the talent. Just a few come to mind-

Oliver 1978,
Mame -1979 ( Jean playing the lead), and in Camelot 1986 where Jean was MERLIN

South Pacific 1985 ( Dave directing)

Casey and I directing and producing King and I -1991 and Brigadoon 1990 – we sold out the Palace with those performances.


Yes! and the same people gave of their time and talent freely to put together an extravaganza to promote the newly formed Lorain Arts Council under the auspices of MainstreetLorain throughout the whole Palace venue even utilizing the “boxes”. The audience was lined up to come and view the talent who call Lorain County home.

We would call on our fellow thespians for help and they always showed up and came through, whether to stage manage, produce , perform, organize, publicize , play an instrument – whatever was needed if they were available they were there. Those were good days.

No Exit – and the statement “hell is other people” – well I have had my share of living that particular line in the “play that is Lorain”.

I am saddened by what has transpired in recent years the demise of Broadway to the extent it has . We need more of those ladies who lunched- they brought a “touch of class” – in my opinion decidedly lacking of late- but that era has too passed us by –
– I have become old , jaded and cynical- Lorain and life has done that and I know I am not alone in wondering what was the point in all those efforts and hard work but then there is the Palace

and am thankful to say still is the house of “light on Broadway” .

Please visit the Palace website for all the latest information

Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, Arts, Brit take, city of lorain, hell is other people, personal opinion. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mary Springowski  |  January 15, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    That would be fun to resurrect this group again! I’m in! lol

  • 2. Robert J. Gargasz  |  January 15, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    When I was a young boy about 12, my single mother widowed, took me on a date to the Palace theater. We saw the movie “Patton”! I will always remember that evening! Later in my life my wife and I saw Carrot Top perform his act there. It has been a part of my life the Palace is a treasure.

  • 3. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 15, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    well yes Mary a new group with the same passion

  • 4. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 15, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Of course one other part of the criteria NO BUDGET!!!!!

  • 5. charlestoncemetery  |  January 16, 2015 at 12:43 am

    i was a palace player in 1978/1979 “Due to the lack of interest tomorrow has been cancelled” and Androcleas and the Lion I know i spelled that wrong, these were the early youth players, this was just the beginnings of the renovation of the Palace. Best times for a teenager roaming around where your not suppose to do, thats where I discovered my great uncles picture on the wall where the ropes/sandbags for the curtains were , he was a manager.

  • 6. Dave  |  January 16, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Well done! I also miss those “ladies who lunch”. They accomplished a lot. Thanks for the memories.

  • 7. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    we did have some fun didn’t we- and the feeling of accomplishment and no coercion 😉 we must have been mad….( brit for crazy) but I learned so much from those days

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January 2015

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