Built in 1928 and renovated in 1976, this atmospheric theatre surrounds the audience with a Moorish courtyard and the feeling of being entertained under twinkling stars and circulating clouds at dusk. The effect is produced by the original (reconditioned) revolutionary cloud machine in a hidden location.The Palace was designed by the great theatre architect John Eberson, nicknamed "Opera House John," for his magnificent theatres. Actual stuffed birds are suspended in the theatre for realism, while his signature parrot is perched in an alcove on the west wall. Try and spot it the next time you visit the Palace.
The courtyard walls are adorned by classic sculptures that were mass produced by his company to allow the completion of the theatre to be done in record time. One sculpture has George Washington dressed in Masonic garb looking down from the East balcony.
The theatre was built featuring "every seat with a perfect view." Even seats beneath the cantilever balcony are completely unobstructed. Seating capacity is 1,445.
The original Page Organ was sold in the early 1970's to help pay the bills. For the reopening in 1976, a "mighty" Wurlitzer theatre organ was installed. It sits in the orchestra pit upon a rising hydraulic platform. Pipes for the organ are hidden behind a great screen on either side of the stage, built to look like courtyard windows.
The theatre was originally designed to be economically sustaining with 5 insert stores and several suites above the lobby. All of this area has now been incorporated into office or meeting rooms for the theatre.
The Palace features a dramatic entrance with a marquee of 560 clear bulbs underneath while another 375 bulbs light up the Palace sign which rises more than 50 feet above the marquee. The Palace is one of only 16 Eberson atmospheric theatres left in the world, and it is an attraction that should not be missed.
As the cultural home to Marion and the surrounding seven county area, the Palace is constantly undergoing many updates to enhance our patrons' visits. The Palace stage showcases entertainment from local talent and top name performers throughout the year. It is also the center of attention to hundreds of school-aged children as they gather to enjoy educational entertainment from our School Matinee Series. And during the summer, children ages 6 to 14 years are given the opportunity to take part in a theatre camp and perform on the historic Marion Palace Theatre stage.
Whether for a movie, a youth theatre camp, or a live performance, we're sure this is one place you will want to visit again and again.