Meet Our Staff of The Princess Theatre

Jen DiCarlo-Watts

Managing Director

Jen DiCarlo is an active community leader with deep roots in Madison, Alabama. A graduate of Bob Jones High School and Auburn University with a degree in Studio Art, she embarked on a versatile career which ultimately prepared her to serve as the Managing Director of The Princess Theatre. Beginning at the US Space and Rocket Center, Jen excelled as Program Manager in Camp Operations of Space Camp and Aviation Challenge. After seven years with the Space and Rocket Center, she joined Apple’s leadership team where she worked with innovative technology and a dynamic customer base. In 2015, Jen joined the team at Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center, where she served as a director until 2021. During her time at Merrimack she enjoyed teaching visual art expression, managing their IT infrastructure, orchestrating marketing efforts, and spearheading volunteer coordination. And while she transitioned to serve as a Leasing and Property Manager at InterSouth Properties in 2021, her role allowed her to stay connected with and involved in the work of Merrimack Hall. Jen is excited to be joining the staff of The Princess Theatre and hopes that her many and varied experiences will help her to serve the theatre’s community and drive this beloved historic venue to new heights. Outside of work, Jen enjoys watching sports of all kinds (Go Bills!), playing cards, building Legos, and cherishes time with her fiancée and their beloved dog, Cooper.

Mary McDonald, Ph.D

Programming Director

Mary previously worked with the Princess Theatre as the Executive Director from December 2019-December 2022. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, she was the Patron and Box Office Manager. During her tenure with the theatre, she developed a Listening Room Series that has brought more than 1500 patrons downtown a year. In addition, she has booked 30+ award winning national touring acts to perform on the Princess Theatre main stage and will continue to book the theatre.

Melissa Ford Thornton

Marketing 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 Kieth

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.

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!