The Broken Statue

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Jewel Box Newsletter

The Marland Mansion in Ponca City holds an intriguing story of riches, romance and betrayal. The story of E. W. Marland and his search for oil, his mansion on the prairie, and his marriage to his adopted daughter Lydie, comes to life in this unbelievable true story![1]

An Interview with Bob Perry

An Interview with Playwright Bob Perry

Recently, Bob Perry, who wrote both the book and the play, The Broken Statue, answered questions about his experience writing the Lydie and E.W. Marland story.

How did you get interested in writing about the Marlands?

I stayed a week at the Marland Mansion in 1999 during a conference. I took the mansion tour and when I saw Lydie's refurbished broken statue, I called my wife and said, "I know the title of the book I want to write--The Broken Statue." I tried to start the story several times, but didn't get serious about writing the first manu-script until 2006.

What did you learn about them that you didn't know before you started writing The Broken Statue?

At first, I thought E.W. Marland must have been a scoundrel to marry his adopted daughter. I was more intrigued by Lydie’s story than E.W.’s at first. Through the process I have become a great admirer of E.W. Marland. He served as governor during one of the state’s most trying time and I think did a good job. E.W. Marland had many opportunities to take his fortune and leave, but I believe he truly loved Oklahoma.

How long did writing the script take?

It took me less than a year to complete the novel once I got started. I started working on the play just to see if I could do it. At first I took the dialogue from the novel and added a few things to get a first draft. The original script did not take long to write, but it was three acts and would have been about a 4 hour play. With a lot of help and guidance, I’ve done several rewrites to condense the story into a workable script. What has it been like to have the piece realized from "page to stage?" It’s been a fun (and learning) process. I think we’ve been able to tell the Marland story in an entertaining and concise way. In the novel, I was able to tell the story with imagery and words. On stage, it has forced me to tell the story with dialogue and rely on the actor’s performances to get the audience to experience the story.

Any parting thoughts?

Although I personally did not know Lydie Marland, I have now written two novels, a stage play, and a screenplay about this fascinating woman. I’ve always tried to depict her in an honorable and respectful manner. I truly hope I have been able to do that. The monuments left by E.W. Marland are everywhere in the state he helped form. The image of Lydie’s statue was carved when she was the princess of the Marland Empire. The restored statue graces the entrance to the Marland Mansion to greet visitors that still come to marvel at the remarkable house and story. Lydie Marland always saw E.W. Marland as an exceptional man—we can only hope Lydie understood how special she was. I hope the play version of The Broken Statue will motivate others to explore and get to know this extraordinary Oklahoma family.[2]

Jewel Box Director Chuck Tweed writes about "The Broken Statue"

Don't get me started! Oh, the journey I have had with The Broken Statue. I could talk non-stop (and unfortunately for some have) about Lydie Roberts Marland!! Getting to find out more and more about the fascinating Lydie has been an experience I will never for-get.

Jana Hester and I have driven to Ponca City to meet Charles and Betty Thompson, who lived next door to Lydie during her final years. Not only a charming couple, but the stories made us feel we “knew” Lydie a little bit better. And then, lunch at the Rusty Barrel in Ponca City with 95-year-old practicing attorney C.D. Northcutt, instrumental in getting Lydie back to Ponca City, was spell-binding as he told story after story about his first meeting with Lydie. Then, just recently, a friend of Jana's living in Tulsa talked to a friend of hers about our “little” project. The lady confessed to working in the grocery store where Lydie, who didn’t have a driver’s license, did her shopping, and how, as soon as Lydie entered, the police would be called, so by the time Lydie was finished shopping, she would have a ride home.

Although she never obtained a driver's license, she managed to drive off in her 1954 Studebaker with $10,000 in cash, some paintings and clothes, never to be seen again for over 25 years! See? So addic-tive!! Writer Bob Perry has brilliantly put real people with fictional people to make The Broken Statue mesmerizing. At our first table reading, some peo-ple were shocked when they found out some of the characters were fictional. A credit to Bob's gen-ius.

This project has been a year in the making. I can't wait for you to see the final project and become fascinated not only with Bob's play, but the book upon which it is based. Then visit the Marland Man-sion yourself and see not only the “broken” statue of Lydie, but of E.W. Marland and her brother George, all commissioned by E.W. A huge honor for us is that the Thompson's and C.D. will be at our opening night! We hope to see all of you there during the run of The Broken Statue.[2]

Cast and Crew of the Jewel Box Production of "The Broken Statue"

  • Directed by Chuck Tweed
  • Mary - Amandanell Bold
  • Young Lydie - Chelsea Yeager
  • Walt Johnson - Dalton Thomas
  • Young Charlie - Greyson Giese
  • Mrs. Berry - Donna Mackie
  • George Roberts/Marland - Jared Blount
  • E. W. Marland - Jeff Perkins
  • Gardner/Hotel Manager - Jim Gabe
  • Young George - Joe Grotta
  • Charlie McDonagh - Josh McGowen
  • Lydie - Katie Lloyd
  • Young Walt Johnson - Kayin Williamson Novel cover
  • Old Charlie - Paul Smith
  • Daniel Cragan - Larry Harris
  • Virginia Marland - Michel Cross
  • Cricket - Nathan Teel
  • Joe Miller - Roger Oxford
  • Elizabeth - Tiffany Tuggle
  • Mrs. Dingle - Vicki Wilcox
  • Jody/Haman - Marcus Wade
  • Assistant Director - Jana Hester
  • Stage Manager - Jan Garrett Lydie Marland’s bedroom
  • Props - Rita Allen and Rachel Poland
  • Costumes - Robbin Davis and Mimi Lynch[2]

Review of The Broken Statue

Broken Statue is a Bad Break Posted by Elizabeth Hurd on October 15, 2011M at 6:04 am

The Jewel Box Theatre is presenting “The Broken Statue” an original work by author Bob Perry. The play fictionalizes the life and lifestyle of Lydie and E.W. Marland. The title of the play comes from the statue of Lydie recovered after being buried in the ground for a number of decades. Perry has researched his subjects and presents them realistically; the fiction comes from the addition of several characters as a vehicle to tell the story, specifically the narrator: Charlie McDonagh.

Perry’s play has the bones of a very good story. The first act encompasses the early years of young Lydie and her brother George as they come to Ponca City, Oklahoma and are adopted by oil baron E. W. Marland and his first wife, the children’s Aunt Virginia. The second act carries on as they have become adults. “The Broken Statue” reveals much about the life of Lydie Marland, however the title promises far more than it delivers. The play is taken from Perry’s novel with the same title. The script does not seem to hang together in this form.

In terms of production, Chuck Tweed, Director does a very nice job of staging. Using a minimalist set and beautiful costumes, the play has great possibilities. While the script is somewhat clumsy and unpolished, good actors can bring it to life. In the first act, the children in the cast do exactly that. Greyson Giese and Kayin Williamson do a particularly fine job as the young Charlie McDonagh and his friend Walt Johnson. Also as the young George and Lydie Roberts, Joe Grotta and Chelsea Yeager nail their parts. Rounding out the young cast is Nathan Teel as Cricket. These talented kids definitely upstage their adult counterparts.

The adult cast seems perfect physically for their roles. However the major characters seem to have trouble expressing emotions and motivations particularly in the second act. While the script is awkward, it is simple rather than complicated. Paul Smith as Charlie (the fictional narrator) is on stage a great deal. The leading actor in the show is Jeff Perkins as E. W. Marland. Both actors appear ideal for their roles but lack confidence for a smooth performance. They spend more time struggling for their words than using their words to reveal their struggles.

Katie Lloyd is a beautiful Lydie; however she also has a few difficulties with language, possibly because she is not getting her cues. Her accent is a bit inconsistent but she has a very nice feel for the role. Charlie as a young adult is quite well done by Josh McGowen showcasing Lloyd’s performance as well as his own. Michel Cross as the first Mrs. Marland is lovely and Tiffany Tuggle as Elizabeth does a fine job, but the most refreshing adult scenes come with the two endearing harridans: Mrs. Dingle and Mrs. Berry. Donna Mackie and Vicki Wilcox have not only learned their parts, they have developed delightful and amusing characters. Each time they enter the audience can relax and enjoy their evil gossip.

E. W. Marland’s nemesis is Daniel Craigin. Craigin is quite well done by Larry Harris. Dalton Thomas as the young adult Walt is also performed intelligently. Together Harris and Thomas along with McGowen, and Grotta (young George) as well as Jared Blount (adult George) provide much of the sense and consistency needed in this play. Jim Gabe as the gardener, Hotel Manager and Jody along with Roger Oxford as Joe Miller have cameo appearances. They don’t seem to have memorized their lines either.

“The Broken Statue” is likely to be viewable after a few more weeks. As Perkins has so many possibilities in this role, improvement is certain. Since this Oklahoma history is fascinating, the play can be well worth seeing. Fortunately the show runs through October 30th at the First Christian Church.

Jewel Box Theatre is located at 3700 N. Walker in Oklahoma City. The Jewel Box telephone number is 405-521-1786 and the website is accessed at Jewelboxtheatre.org. Show times are 8:00pm Thursday/Saturday with Sunday matinees at 2:30pm through October 30, 2011.[3]

Book Blurb for The Broken Statue

Buried in the red soil of the Oklahoma prairie is a secret only Charlie McDonagh can fully reveal. Charlie is an ordinary man who is witness to extraordinary events and people. A stone statue of a striking young woman, broken into a hundred pieces is uncovered from the dirt of a remote location-a broken statue representing shattered lives and shattered dreams.

The story of the statues is one of love, greed, betrayal, power, and crushed aspirations. The statue symbolizes what was and what could have been. A tale of a great oil empire betrayed, destroying the lives of the family who built it. An intriguing story based on the real-life legacy of the Marland Mansion and the statue still located within its walls.[4]

Book Blurb for the Play The Broken Statue

A limestone statue of a striking young woman is buried and lost for nearly thirty years—a broken statue representing shattered lives and shattered dreams. The story of the statue is one of love, greed, power, and lost aspirations. The statue symbolizes what was and what could have been—a tale of a great oil empire betrayed, destroying the lives of the family who built it. This intriguing story captures the wild risk-taking, broken lives, and the lavish lifestyles of the gilded age of the early oil industry. The story is based on the real-life legacy of oil-baron E.W. Marland, who made and lost a fortune in the oilfields of northern Oklahoma, and the tragic story of Lydie Marland. E. W. Marland survived a notorious marriage to become a United States congressman and the 10th governor of Oklahoma. The Broken Statue reveals the determination, grit, successes, and frustrations of E.W. Marland and the tragic challenges he left for his young widow. Other Bob Perry novels include Mimosa Lane, Brothers of the Cross Timber, The Nephilim Code, Guilt’s Echo, and Lydie’s Ghost.[5]

Ponca Playhouse Looks to the Future

Beginning in 1958 Ponca Playhouse made its home in the Civic Center paying $1 a year rent but the city closed the civic center in the early 1990's due to structural concerns and several years later began the centennial project to remodel the building. The Civic Center closed with the production of "Rumors" in the spring of 1994 and the Playhouse began looking for a place to rehearse and perform. Fortunately, the Poncan Theater had just reopened after renovations and offered a vaudeville stage to the Playhouse. Between 1994 and 1996, the Playhouse rehearsed and built sets in a number of locations including Martin's Furniture building which is now Kem's gym. "We were vagabonds looking for a place to land," says JoAnn Muchmore. The Playhouse rented the Poncan Theater stage and produced its first production “Lend me a Tenor” in the fall of 1994 and the Poncan would be its home for theatrical productions for the next 15 years. During this period the Playhouse presented its productions on the stage of the Poncan but used the O'Reilly building on South First St., purchased in 1996 from the Monger family, for rehearsal space, construction of sets, and as a storage area for costumes and props.

Now fifty-one years after its founding, this September Ponca Playhouse began presenting performances in the O'Reilly building so that for the first time both the theatrical performances and the work area for preparation and rehearsal would take place in the same location. "We had a dream and I think that one of the big pushes was that we wanted a facility where we would have a home of our own," says Ruslyn Hermanson. "We wanted a space where everything was together and we didn't have to move from one spot to another."

On September 18, I sat down with five members of Ponca Playhouse: JoAnn Muchmore (long time Director at the Playhouse and Director of "Tuesdays with Morrie"), Brian Hermanson (Producer of "Tuesdays with Morrie"), former Ponca Playhouse President Karen Brown, Jose Cervantes, and Ruslyn Hermanson to talk about what it took to get Ponca Playhouse installed and ready to perform in their new space, how the new space will affect the Playhouse's productions, and what the future holds for Ponca Playhouse.

What it Took to Get the New Space Ready

If necessity is the mother of invention, than the looming deadline of the opening of Ponca Playhouse's first play of the season, "Tuesdays with Morrie," galvanized members of the Playhouse to get the space prepared. The amazing thing is that the work on the seats and risers came together so quickly. "The work got done in one month. Three weeks before opening night you would never have dreamed we could do it," says Brian Hermanson. "We were out in the lobby rehearsing and there were twenty-two people inside the theater working so hard they were sweating.," says JoAnn Muchmore. "The actors said one night 'What is plan B? If the theater isn't ready and there is no place for us, what are we going to do?' I told them it would be ready because I didn't want to upset the actors, but I wasn't so sure myself."

The first thing the Playhouse did was put in new bathrooms that were handicapped accessible. "We did that with the help of the Vietnam Vets who did most of the work because they have a policy of promoting handicapped accessibility," says Ruslyn Hermanson. Then came the seats. "Our office manager, Marlene Foxworthy, happened to remember that the Tulsa Performing Arts Center had remodeled," says Karen Brown. "So she got on the phone and found the last remaining seats that had not been used elsewhere. The contractor removing the seats from the Arts Center told us 'We have some seats and if you can come and get them within a week, you can have them.'" Sullivan Trucking provided a truck, a driver, and a helper and about six members of the Playhouse drove to Tulsa, got the chairs, loaded them up and brought them to Ponca City. "The chairs were in pieces, there were three different sizes of hardware so we had to put them together and fabricate missing parts," says Jose Cervantes but what was most amazing was that the risers we had built "fit 108 seats which was exactly the number of chairs that we were able to get from Tulsa," says Brian Hermanson.

As you come in the theater you will see that seats in the theater are arranged in six separate sections with each of the six "risers" self-contained with three levels of seats. The six risers are the crucial piece of the puzzle that made the design of Ponca Playhouse come together. Members of the Playhouse had discussed the design of the theater for 15 years and visited other theaters like "Town and Gown" in Stillwater to get ideas but what the final design came down to was two factors: flexibility and quality of seating. Members of the Playhouse came up with a unique solution that solved both problems. The first requirement for the design of the Playhouse's new performance space was that the Playhouse gain the flexibility to rearrange seating easily to perform different kinds of plays. To meet this requirement each of the six risers was designed so it could be moved anyplace in the room with a pallette jack. "The thing is that we wanted to have a design that was not limited," says Ruslyn Hermanson adding that the seating can be reconfigured in 30 minutes. "We wanted something that could be moved so if we want to have a proscenium stage, we can have it. If we want to have a thrust stage like we are using in 'Tuesdays with Morrie' we can do that. If we want to do theater in the round, we can do that."

The second requirement was that everybody have a great seat and that there be a new feeling of intimacy between the actors and the audience. "Nobody is more than three seats away from the production. Everybody has a great sight line. The actors are having eye contact and actually talking to you and you feel that you are part of the play rather than someone who is hiding in the back of the room," says Brian Hermanson. Karen Brown added that "when we had our open house for picking seats everybody wanted to chose seats in front. They couldn't quite get their head around the fact that now you can see the production just as well from the sides." Another practical advantage of the more intimate setting is that members of the audience can see and hear the play better. "The number of people with hearing problems, as you get over 50 is increasing," says Brian Hermanson. "Now people say after our first production ‘I can hear everything. I can see everything. Even though I have a seat near the back wall I have a great view.'"

The Advantages of the New Space

The ways in which the new space will change the character of the Ponca Playhouse range from the economic, to the artistic, to a change in the way that the actors interact with the audience. "The Playhouse will be better able to weather the hardship of the loss of population in Ponca City by no longer having to pay rent for a performance space," says Karen Brown and the Playhouse can expand their offerings outside of the regular line-up. "We can do dinner theater," says Brian Hermanson. "Whether it be just desert or a full meal, we know that is something our patrons are wanting," says Karen Brown.

Artistically the new space will provide a greater challenge and greater opportunities to the Playhouse's directors. "When JoAnn Muchmore directs a play, instead of just directing her actors to the audience out in front, they are now playing to three or four sides, and this gives her the opportunity to teach us things." says Brian Hermanson. Another advantage to the new location is that it gives the Playhouse more flexibility in scheduling performances. "With so many older people now who don't like to drive at night, I think it would be good to plan more matinees," says JoAnn Muchmore. Having their own space will also allow the Playhouse to have extended runs of their most popular shows. "Musicals generally have more people attending than conventional theater. If we sell out early we can add more performances," says Brian Hermanson. "That's a good problem to have."

Construction of the new space has also been a real unifying experience for Ponca Playhouse and some say that the feeling of accomplishment and pride in putting together the new space is like the feeling when the Playhouse first started over fifty years ago. "We didn't know for sure who was going to show up on a work day. It would just be announced that there would be people down at the Playhouse at this time and day," says Ruslyn Hermanson. "One day twenty-six people showed up to work at the Playhouse. You wouldn't hear people complaining" says Brian Hermanson. "You would hear people inside laughing and having a good time."

What the Future Holds for Ponca Playhouse

"You are going to see some changes behind the stage," says Brian Hermanson. "Right now we don't really have traditional dressing rooms for the actors. Hopefully we are going to be able to expand to two buildings further down the block so we have have dressing rooms and additional work spaces."

Another change will be adding to the infrastructure in the theater. "We want to own our own lighting," says Brian Hermanson. "We want to add our own lighting and a sound booth back in the corner. Right now we are renting lighting because we don't want to make that investment before we have a chance to work with the lighting during a production but our own lighting is something that you are going to see very soon."

From a artistic standpoint the Playhouse may expand in other directions as well. "I think we may want to start doing some different, edgier plays that challenge the audience more," says Karen Brown something that JoAnn Muchmore has argued for in the past. One possibility would be to start a reader's theater on Sunday evenings where readers read from a "script" with reading parts divided among the readers. "There are plenty of sophisticated people in town who may want to see an edgier play, even if it is just on a Sunday night reader's play. We respect our audience and we are not trying to go off on some crazy tangent, but there are ways to serve different audiences now that we have our own space."

So now that the Playhouse has had their first performance in the new space – what is the bottom line? "There has been a tremendous response from the audience" says Jose Cervantes. "We haven't heard a complaint – not about the seats, not about the air conditioning, not about hearing the play. The response from the audience has been overwhelming." [6]

Lydie Marland

n 1908, Marland came to Oklahoma with not much more than belief in himself and a letter of credit. Mr. and Mrs. Marland made their home at the Arcade Hotel, and E.W. set out to explore for oil.

Marland's First Mansion

E.W. and Virginia Marland built a lovely house at Tenth and Grand, near the downtown area. That house had 22 rooms, but what it became known for was the eight acres of formal, terraced gardens. It was acclaimed to be the most beautiful collection of shrubs, flowers, and foliage this side of the Mississippi.

Marland Family

Mr. and Mrs. Marland had no children of their own so they invited two of her sister’s children to come from Pennsylvania for a visit, and they stayed. The nephew, George, and the niece, Lydie, shared in the wealth of their aunt and uncle, being sent to the finest private schools and enjoying lavish parties with their friends in the home on Grand Avenue. Eventually, E.W. and Virginia adopted George and Lydie. (Pictured here clockwise from left - George Roberts Marland, Mrs. Sam Collins - Virginia's mother, Virginia Marland, Neighbor, E.W. Marland, and Lydie Roberts Marland.)

Construction of the "Palace on the Prairie"

Marland traveled extensively, and on one of his many trips he discovered the Davanzati Palace in Florence, Italy. He was quite taken with it and dreamed of having his own “Palace on the Prairie.” He hired architect John Duncan Forsyth, construction began in 1925 and it took three years to finish. In 1926, Virginia Marland died after a long illness, so she never lived in the new mansion.

New Mrs. Marland

In 1928, the same year the mansion was finished, E.W. and his adopted daughter, Lydie, traveled in his private railway coach to Flourtown, Pennsylvania where he had her adoption annulled and married her. So, the girl who was first his niece by marriage, and then his adopted daughter, became his wife, the second Mrs. Marland and the “first lady” of the new Marland Estate Mansion. They went on an extended honeymoon and in September 1928, they moved into their new home, E.W.’s gift to his bride.

Lydie Marland (1900 - 1987)


After Mr. Marland’s death in 1941, Lydie continued to live in her cottage. She lived a quiet, reclusive life and some people even thought she had died. Then, in 1953, she loaded her Studebaker with paintings and tapestries and left Ponca City, not to be seen again locally for 22 years. For most of that time, very few people knew where she was and once again, some even thought she had died. The Saturday Evening Post ran an article entitled “Where is Lyde Marland?” However, while she was gone, she was in touch with her attorney and continued to pay taxes on the little cottage and property that Marland had left to her in his will. She lived on the west coast for a while and in New York City near Central Park. In the 1960’s, during the unrest that surround the Vietnamese War and civil rights, she participated in peace marches in Washington, D.C.

In 1975, the Felician Sisters announced that they were planning to sell the mansion. Lydie came home and wrote a letter to the editor of the Ponca City News, asking the citizens of Ponca City to support the purchase of the mansion and to save this wonderful treasure.

Following her return to the city in 1975, Lydie moved back into her cottage on the estate grounds, and she lived there until her death in 1987. Again, she lived a very reclusive life and was very shy when people approached her. She only went into the mansion, or the “big house” as she called it, a few times.[7]

Ponca Playhouse to Present "The Broken Statue"

A limestone statue of a striking young woman is buried and lost for nearly thirty years - a broken statue representing shattered lives and shattered dreams. The story of the statue is one of love, greed, power, and lost aspirations. The statue symbolizes what was and what could have been - a tale of a great oil empire betrayed, destroying the lives of the family who built it.

Ponca Playhouse announces that "The Broken Statue," a play by Bob Perry based on the real-life story of oil-baron E.W. Marland, who made and lost a fortune in the oilfields of northern Oklahoma, and the tragic story of his adopted daughter and later wife Lydie Marland, will be presented in Ponca City, Oklahoma in an exclusive run of nine performances that will be performed on July 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 and August 3, 4, and 5, 2012.

Oil Magnate E. W. Marland

In 1908 E. W. Marland came to Oklahoma after losing his fortune in the Pennsylvania oil fields in the panic of 1907 and by 1920 had reestablished himself and started the Marland Oil Company in Ponca City with a fortune estimated at $85 million (roughly $910 million in modern dollars). Marland was a visionary and not only pioneered the use of geophysical techniques in the oil industry but was years ahead of his time as an employer providing housing, loans, medical care, and other benefits for the thousands of employees who worked at his refineries and pipelines.

But misfortune would strike Marland and in 1928 his oil empire was destroyed by J.P. Morgan's banking interests. Marland was forced out of the oil company he had founded when bankers merged it with Continental Oil Company and renamed the company Conoco.

Although he lost his fortune, his company, and his home, Marland had something more important - the love of his wife Lydie and the high esteem of his fellow Oklahomans who elected him Governor. The Broken Statue reveals the determination, grit, successes, and frustrations of Marland and the tragic challenges he left for his young widow, Lydie, in an intriguing story that captures the wild risk-taking, broken lives, and the lavish lifestyles of the gilded age of the early oil industry.

Lydie Marland, First Lady of Oklahoma

In 1908, Marland came to Oklahoma with not much more than belief in himself and a letter of credit. Marland and his first wife, Virginia, made their home at the Arcade Hotel, and E.W. set out to explore for oil. Mr. and Mrs. Marland had no children of their own so they invited two of her sister's children to come from Pennsylvania for a visit, and they stayed. The nephew, George, and the niece, Lydie, shared in the wealth of their aunt and uncle, being sent to the finest private schools and enjoying lavish parties with their friends in the home on Grand Avenue. Eventually, E.W. and Virginia adopted George and Lydie.

In 1926, Virginia Marland died after a long illness and in 1928, E.W. and his adopted daughter, Lydie, traveled in his private railway coach to Flourtown, Pennsylvania where he had her adoption annulled and married her. The girl who was first his niece by marriage, and then his adopted daughter, became his wife, the second Mrs. Marland and the "first lady" of the new Marland Estate Mansion. They went on an extended honeymoon and in September 1928, they moved into their new home, E.W.'s gift to his bride.

When Marland was elected governor of Oklahoma in 1936, Lydie became first lady of the state. After Marland's death in 1941, Lydie lived a quiet, reclusive life and some people even thought she had died. Then, in 1953, she loaded her Studebaker with paintings and tapestries and left Ponca City, not to be seen again locally for 22 years. For most of that time, very few people knew where she was and once again, some even thought she had died. The Saturday Evening Post ran an article entitled "Where is Lyde Marland?" However, while she was gone, she was in touch with her attorney and continued to pay taxes on the little cottage and property that Marland had left to her in his will. She lived on the west coast for a while and in New York City near Central Park. In the 1960's, during the unrest that surround the Vietnamese War and civil rights, she participated in peace marches in Washington, D.C.

In 1975, the Felician Sisters announced that they were planning to sell Marland's mansion. Lydie came home and wrote a letter to the editor of the Ponca City News, asking the citizens of Ponca City to support the purchase of the mansion and to save this wonderful treasure. Following her return to the city in 1975, Lydie moved back into her cottage on the estate grounds, and she lived there until her death in 1987. Again, she lived a very reclusive life and was very shy when people approached her. She only went into the mansion, or the "big house" as she called it, a few times.

Playwright Bob Perry

Playwright Bob Perry's attraction to the Marland story began in 1999 when he came to Ponca City and stayed a week at the Marland Mansion during a conference. Perry took the mansion tour and when he saw Lydie's refurbished broken statue,he called his wife and said, "I know the title of the book I want to write--The Broken Statue." Perry tried to start the story several times, but didn't get serious about writing the first manuscript until 2006.

"At first, I thought E.W. Marland must have been a scoundrel to marry his adopted daughter," says Perry. "I was more intrigued by Lydie's story than E.W.'s at first. Through the process I have become a great admirer of E.W. Marland. He served as governor during one of the state's most trying times and I think did a good job. E.W. Marland had many opportunities to take his fortune and leave, but I believe he truly loved Oklahoma."

Perry began by writing a novel based on the Marlands' story and it took him less than a year to complete the novel once I got started. Then Perry started working on the play just to see if he could do it. "At first I took the dialogue from the novel and added a few things to get a first draft. The original script did not take long to write, but it was three acts and would have been about a 4 hour play. With a lot of help and guidance, I've done several rewrites to condense the story into a workable script.

"I think we've been able to tell the Marland story in an entertaining and concise way," says Perry. "In the novel, I was able to tell the story with imagery and words. On stage, it has forced me to tell the story with dialogue and rely on the actor's performances to get the audience to experience the story."

"The monuments left by E.W. Marland are everywhere in the state he helped form. The image of Lydie's statue was carved when she was the princess of the Marland Empire. The restored statue graces the entrance to the Marland Mansion to greet visitors that still come to marvel at the remarkable house and story. Lydie Marland always saw E.W. Marland as an exceptional man-we can only hope Lydie understood how special she was. I hope the play version of The Broken Statue will motivate others to explore and get to know this extraordinary Oklahoma family."

Ponca Playhouse

"The Broken Statue" was first produced at the Jewel Box Theatre in 2011 and a number of residents of Ponca City traveled to Oklahoma City to see the production. Then in November 2011 a group of Ponca City residents who had seen the show met at Ponca Playhouse including representatives from Marland Mansion, Ponca City Tourism, and Ponca City Main Street and proposed that if Ponca Playhouse would produce "The Broken Statue" other community groups in Ponca City would support the production. "I took the report from our steering committee to a meeting of the playhouse's board of directors meeting and the enthusiasm spread to the board and they voted that we should proceed with it," says Ponca Playhouse board member Karen Brown. "I think it's a good fit for Ponca City. It's an opportunity to perpetuate the history of Ponca City and it's an opportunity for community members to get involved with the playhouse."

Ponca Playhouse is an organization that has been active in the community of Ponca City since 1958 and is one the oldest community theatres in continuous operation in the entire United States. In 2008 the Playhouse celebrated its 50th anniversary by moving into their new location at 301 S. 1st Street in Ponca City with a new flexible performance space. "The thing is that we wanted to have a design that was not limited," says Ruslyn Hermanson adding that the seating can be reconfigured in 30 minutes. "We wanted something that could be moved so if we want to have a proscenium stage, we can have it. If we want to have a thrust stage like we are using in 'Tuesdays with Morrie' we can do that. If we want to do theater in the round, we can do that."

Another feature of the new playhouse is that everybody has a great seat and that there be a new feeling of intimacy between the actors and the audience. "Nobody is more than three seats away from the production. Everybody has a great sight line. The actors are having eye contact and actually talking to you and you feel that you are part of the play rather than someone who is hiding in the back of the room," says Brian Hermanson. Karen Brown added that "when we had our open house for picking seats everybody wanted to chose seats in front. They couldn't quite get their head around the fact that now you can see the production just as well from the sides." Another practical advantage of the more intimate setting is that members of the audience can see and hear the play better. "The number of people with hearing problems, as you get over 50 is increasing," says Brian Hermanson. "Now people say after our first production 'I can hear everything. I can see everything. Even though I have a seat near the back wall I have a great view.'"

The production of "The Broken Statue" will be special production of Ponca Playhouse that is not a part of their regular season and will be the first production to take place during the summer fulfilling the playhouse's need to keep the theatre active year round. "I think that it will turn out to be something that is really positive for Ponca Playhouse and for the community," adds Brown who will produce "The Broken Statue" for Ponca Playhouse, "and hopefully it will be turned into a production that we put on in Ponca City on an annual basis."

Tickets

The Broken Statue will appear in a limited engagement of only nine performances. When the Jewel Box Theatre presented this play in Oklahoma City in 2011, shows were quickly sold out and even though additional performances were added, many people who wanted to see the show were unable to get tickets. With only 900 tickets on sale for this run, get your tickets now to ensure you can see this once-in-a-lifetime performance that tells the story of the Marland family in Ponca City.

Tickets are $20 and may be purchased at Ponca Playhouse in person at the box office or over the phone at 580-765-5360 from Tuesday through Thursday – 10 am to 3 p.

Friday’s and Saturday’s performance will begin at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday’s performance will begin at 2:00 p.m.

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