Play company gives to Marion Civic Center after dissolving - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Play company gives to Marion Civic Center after dissolving

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MARION -- Only months ago, "Paradise Alley Players" shutdown for good, with the company dissolving and donating left over funds to the Marion Civic Center.

For decades the Marion and Cultural and Civic Center showcased local talent with recitals, musicals and plays.

"Every time I go on that stage, I'm a totally different person than when I am at home," said 15-year-old Keara Sweeney

She said the stage helped her find her voice and the performances were enhanced by the dynamic lighting and sound, helping bring the atmosphere to life.    

Sweeney first began acting with Paradise Alley Players at 11 years old, but over the last few years, the number of members began to dwindle, resulting in a final curtain call in 2017.

"Everything just kind of hit everybody all at once and it's not something that we can take somebody brand new and just shove them in," she said. "There's a lot of little nuances and things that you have to know about."

Before it was dissolved, President Cindy Parks directed a few plays for the stage company.

"Totally family friendly, no swearing, nothing that you couldn't bring grandma to or a 3-year-old too," Parks said.

With the company no longer running, Parks said the by-laws require them to donate left over funds to the civic center.

With city council approval, $13,000 went to replace the 9 year-old lighting board.

"I was surprised by how much money they were going to be donating to the civic center," Civic Center Executive Director Josh Benson said.

Benson said Paradise Alley Players has been a direct partner of the civic center since it was established in 1974

"The importance of that donation is just skimming the surface of the importance that Paradise Alley Players were to the civic center historically," Benson said. 

Sweeney plans to be an elementary teacher but hopes to continue acting on the side.

"That just kind of brought acting into my life and I think that acting will stay in my life," she said. 

She and a few other former members hope to start a new group in memory of stage company.

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