April 18, 2014

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Requiem For A Showboat

I think the Becky's time had come...and gone.

The Showboat Becky Thatcher arrived in Marietta not long before I did.

It was brought there for the nation's bicentennial celebration in 1976.  And, besides being a place where they showed melodramas "Where you cheer the heroes and hiss the villans", it was also a gathering place. In fact, the first event I covered there was a dinner for a company's executives.

But it always seemed the boat had one problem after another.  The worst came in 1984.  The showboat's ticket barge sank in the Muskingum River, causing the boat to be moved to the opposite side of the river while the barge was repaired.  Then, the boat itself sank, and it had to be shipped to Point Pleasant and then to South Point, Ohio for repairs.  This took most of the year to complete. It took state money to keep it "afloat" (financially, that is...the Becky never "floated" the entire time it was in Marietta).

In recent years, the problems increased.  The showboat's restaurant went from one owner to another.  The restaurant brought in money during the fall and winter, the melodramas weren't presented. 

Then, the publicly-operated showboat drama company sold it to a private duo, who ended up going their separate ways.  A court battle ensued as to who actually owned the boat.  When that was settled, the boat hadn't been in use for some time and was put up for sale...on E-Bay, of all places.  The public wanted the Becky to keep operating, but, in a faltering economy, no one wanted to buy it and it just sat there.

The City of Marietta, I think, made the right move and evicted the boat, which was moved last Wednesday, October 14. It leaves an empty space along Front Street, but something, I'm sure, can be found to replace it.

In spite of the public's desire that the showboat operate again, with all of the legal and financial battles that have left it in deteriorating shape, I think the city just thought the Becky was no longer worth the trouble.

Every show, no matter how successful, faces "the final curtain". 

 

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