Instead of a party, a marquee
by Jan Schlain
From the September, 2020 issue
Jan Conlin was seated at an outdoor table at Knight's on Liberty when someone came out from the Michigan Theater across the street and, using a long stick, started to put a new message on the marquee.
The first line said "Welcome to Club 70." The second said "Janis Conlin." That's when she knew why her brothers and sister wanted to meet at that particular place and time--and why they'd made sure she was seated with a good view.
"Originally there was going to be a party," says her sister Christeen Conlin Holdwick, "but that went by the way of Covid." So Conlin's siblings--two of whom are already in "Club 70"--rented the sign instead.
They'd responded to an email pitch from Lee Berry, the theater's chief development officer. With no movies or live shows, "we have budget problems," says Berry. Renting the marquee--it costs $350 for individuals, $500 for businesses--"is one way we are trying to help that."
"We just had a staff meeting where we collectively said, 'you know, we need to think about how we can use our marquee more effectively,'" says theater CEO Russ Collins. After hopes for an earlier reopening were dashed, "I would be shocked if there was a public event or a live event before the end of the calendar year," Collins says. "Artists aren't going out" on tour.
"We look forward to welcoming people back," says Collins, "when the state approves it and we feel we have everything in place to make the theater as safe as it can be." In the meantime, they're giving everyone a chance to see their name in lights.
[Originally published in September, 2020.]
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