Meet The Staff
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Mary McDonald, PhD, Executive Director
Mary previously worked with the Princess Theatre as the Box Office and Patron Manager. During her tenure with the theatre, she developed a Listening Room Series that has brought more than 3,000 patrons downtown. Prior to working at the Princess Theatre, Mary worked with an organization which helped Universities across the world improve processes, procedures, and policies. She has traveled to over 23 countries and 42 states developing an appreciation for culture, arts and entertainment.
Penny Linville, Technical Director
Penny has been with the Princess Theatre since the place was built…not literally, but pretty close. Penny has been serving as the Technical Director, Bartender, and don't forget the Popcorn Maker for the last 26 years. There is not much Penny does not do around here. Penny's latest passion is being a pirate. After all, stage language and pirate language are very similar. Yo ho ho... a pirate's life for Penny.
Courtney Blanchette, Education Director
Courtney Blanchette first performed on the Princess stage when she was five years old and was hooked. Graduating from Austin High and gaining a scholarship to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC she ventured to the big apple to learn her craft. There she earned her Certificate in Integrated Theatre. She returned to Decatur to further her education and graduated from Athens State University with a B.A. in English and Education. All the while she assisted the Decatur High School drama teacher and directed several productions there between 2004 and 2007. Courtney continued directing in graduate school while she earned her M.A. in Philosophical Theology from Asbury Theological Seminary. There she met her philosopher husband and off they went to Kalamazoo, MI where they had their first child. Courtney gained more experience and training with the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre and Crescendo Academy. They next moved to Rochester, NY where Courtney directed a preschool program for 4 years. There they had their second child. She has been teaching performance to all ages since she left NYC. She loves theatre. She loves teaching. She loves people. She is excited to be back where it all began for her!
Melissa Ford Thornton, Communications Director
California girl with a Southern accent, Melissa Ford Thornton was born in Redondo Beach, CA. and earned her M.A. from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Melissa has more than 25 years of professional communications and public relations experience, spanning the corporate, academic and music promotion arenas. Additionally, she is an award-winning poet, storyteller and writer. She has performed on stage at The Moth, Arc Stories, Tenx 9 Nashville Storytelling and Tin Can Stories. Melissa is a frequent guest on NPR-affiliate WLRH 's Sundial Writer's Corner. She is a member of Public Relations Council of North Alabama, The Americana Music Association, National Storytelling Network, Huntsville Literary Association and Out Loud HSV Spoken Word Community. She is thrilled to apply her professional and creative experience to her role as Director of Communications for the Princess Theatre & Performing Arts Centre. Her first job was working concessions and the box office at a family-owned theater in Huntsville, AL. She says, "Working for the Princess Theatre is a beautiful, full-circle moment."
Jody Keith, Office Manager
Jody Keith brings 25 years of retail and sales experience to her position as Bookkeeper and Office Manager for the Princess Theatre. A native of Omaha, Nebraska and long-time resident of Decatur, Jody also is the cheerful smile behind the concession counter during many events. She loves her job and says popcorn is a "work perk aka occupational hazard!" Jody's greatest joy is her family - husband of 38 years, three children and grandchildren.