New chapters don’t always come exactly when expected, but you take it as it comes. And, take the best parts with you. As I leave my job with The Franklin Theatre, it is with gratitude. I am thankful for the time, the opportunity, the special moments I never would have imagined I would experience.
The historic theater was lucky enough to avoid permanent closure as the community stepped in and saved it, and with a complete renovation and vision (thanks to the visionaries) it became a new life form. Only the front facade holds original material. But, it was rebuilt to mimic those art deco days, and to produce the greatest sound and live event experience possible. All 300 seats of it. The interior elements may be new, but special memories are still absorbed in those walls. We’re in the music industry’s backyard, where many call this home. They, too, love this place. They create special performances here, show up for benefit concerts, even take a seat for themselves in the audience.
It’s a building over 80 years-old that first stood among a time most of us can only picture in black and white. Those photos are all over the walls. It was the picture house where the nostalgic, classic movies we think of today were once new releases. It was about first dates, first kisses, and the kids who didn’t want any of that, just the westerns and popcorn and cold soda. Or, to skip the movie and sneak into the pool hall upstairs. The young girls in those old photos have surfaced from time to time with family members, the past coming back to us. Couples have reminisced about their long love affairs that began in front of that screen. We are connected to that past. But, as days go by, the stories are getting farther away from us. Please don’t lose that.
I share a few favorite photos (though I have hundreds) remembering some favorite moments. Because I can’t ever forget babbling to Kevin Bacon in the green room, something about planets in retrograde making my camera do wonky things. I mean, when Kevin Bacon asks if you got some good pictures, what do you say? Meeting an actor my mom would have been so ecstatic about had she been alive today. Standing in front of the “wall of fame” as the artist stares at their own picture, that you took, and they thank you for a great picture (most of the time). Guests that you once watched on TV as a child, and became your first crush, are now in our halls making small talk and hugging you for a picture. A picture now on my own wall, of course. Climbing into the catwalk for an exclusive view and grab that photo no one else will have. An artist thanking you for doing what you have done to make their night a success. Because that is their passion.
From up-and-coming artists to legacy artists, at whatever point of their journey they’re on, they share this space. And, they want to come back. They love this place. And, all the children who got their first chance to perform on a major stage that will likely birth new stars in the years ahead.
A small, but mighty team ran the show, and ran it with passion. I’m glad I could play a part.
That wall of photos grew beyond what I had ever imagined, as more than half the photos are those that I have contributed. A conversation piece and time capsule people are moved by. During this tumultuous year, I championed a campaign to give the marquee back to the community that ended up raising a significant amount of money. Each year, our team surpassed our stated goals as we worked our hearts out for this theater to succeed. Though, it was demonstrated to us, it’s not necessarily the result you’re focused on, it’s the process along the way. I told the theater’s story as best I could. I hope the theater is better for it.
But, I’m not trying to make this about me. It’s about these walls and stage and people and what happens at the end of the night. No matter where we have all come from, we were one, enjoying the show. I always said, it took a magic formula for a successful night. Whatever that formula might be, it did indeed produce just that – magic. And, you only truly know that, when you are immersed in it. Whatever your role might be.
A special thanks to Dan Hays and Paul T. Couch for your leadership and friendship. For leadership that we could admire, where we could be empowered and find ownership, learn and grow from, trust.
The doors will open again, though things will be a little different, because things are ever changing. Just don’t forget why this building is here. Why it’s still standing. Why it has been successful. Why each person along the way, together, made it a success.
I often reminded myself not to take any of this for granted. Especially, when it’s something you feel lucky to have and couldn’t believe it was actually your job. I love music. I love music making a difference. I love people coming together for a greater cause. I love being part of a community, a creative community, where you know you’re lucky to be here.
I wish you well, sweet theater.
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