WRT drops curtain on rest of season

  • Written by Don Mann
Woodinville Repertory Theatre Co-President and Artistic Director Hjalmer Anderson confirmed last week the Rep has canceled its October production of “The Best Laid Plans” in order to focus on securing a permanent home for next year.

“We’re shutting down for the rest of the year,” Anderson said. “Our board decided that made sense, based on my recommendation. We hope to be back up and running in February.”

The drama began about two years ago when the Rep was ousted from its Wellington Hills Golf & Country Club home after 10 years.

The theatre group has been working out of Denali Stone Slab Studio since October 2011 and thought it had a permanent home at the 50-seat venue located in Woodinville’s industrial zone.

But two months ago they were informed by the city they’d have to pay $4,600 for a temporary use permit.

Currently, under city code, theatrical productions are only permitted in the Central Business Zone. Temporary use permits last for six months.

“It costs us about $4,000 to produce one six-week show,” Anderson said.

The WRT took the matter up with the Woodinville City Council, and at its Aug. 13 meeting the council rolled back the fee to $1,788.

Anderson determined, given the time it takes to apply for the permit and the fact there are only four months left to the calendar year, even the reduced fee was untenable at this time.

He said the theatre group had already invested about $5,000 at Denali’s to create a more dedicated theatre space.

More promising to Anderson was council agreeing to add a future docket item that could allow theatre production in multiple city zones, thus clearing the way for the Rep shows to go on at costs only of its own.

“If we can get the zoning change, there will be no permit fee and we can go forward using our own money. Remember, we’re a non-profit. Our actors get paid a pittance — gas money. Seriously, a lot of our actors drive from Tacoma. We pay our actors 200 bucks to work for six weeks. It’s an honorarium.

Nobody’s getting rich here. They do it because they love it and they want to act. It’s a passion.”

Anderson was asked of his perfect vision in a perfect world.

“We’d love a permanent home in the Old Woodinville Schoolhouse, but there’s a major cost factor there for reconstruction and retrofitting that would likely require a bond issue.

“And of course there are local politics to deal with. But in a perfect world? I’d say to be in the downtown corridor with a 150-250 seat facility so people could come and see live theatre and the city would make it a tourist attraction. That would be perfect.”

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