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Future of Curtain Call Theatre is uncertain

  • Written by Deborah Stone
For the past 16 years, Curtain Call Theatre has entertained area audiences with its twice-yearly shows at the Northshore Senior Center.

Founded in 1996 by actor Jonathan Reis, the nonprofit group has been an integral part of Bothell’s performing arts scene.

Originally a seniors-only theatre company that morphed out of the drama classes Reis taught at the center, the group now draws a mixture of actors of all ages.

“I started including actors of all ages about two years ago,” comments Reis. “We almost had to close our doors prior to that point because so many of the older members had passed away, moved or had gotten to the point where they just couldn’t memorize their lines anymore. And we were losing audiences rapidly.

“The idea was presented to include young adults with seniors in order to build bridges between the generations, while promoting theatre arts in the community.” He adds, “It was an immediate success.”

Reis, as artistic director of Curtain Call, chooses the shows and either he or Vanessa Langston directs them.

Productions are often comedies with the occasional mystery thrown in for good measure.

“The plays we do range from traditional to contemporary,” says Reis. “And we often look for shows that are known entities to our audiences.”

Actors, who come from all over the Puget Sound, must audition in order to be part of the cast.

They are unpaid and put in hours of rehearsal time.

“They do it because they love being on stage,” comments Reis. “We’ve had actors as young as 17 and as old as in their upper 80s. It’s always a great combination of talented people who enjoy the opportunity to perform.”

According to Reis, Curtain Call’s productions are well-received and audiences typically fill the house. He adds, “People really seem to love our shows and they always give us great feedback.”

The positive response is very rewarding to Reis, as it is to the actors, who take particular delight in the many standing ovations that are often the norm for the company’s shows.

For Reis, the additional satisfaction is in seeing the actors grab hold of the techniques he gives them and fully committing to their roles.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to see the results of all the hard work,” he comments. “And with the seniors, it’s an extra good feeling to know that they’re getting something further in life — an outlet to express themselves and a fun activity for them to pursue.”

Of course, there are always challenges when it comes to community theatre and the local man is well-versed in this arena.

Raising money to pay for the shows is a constant struggle, but he says that Bothell businesses have always been supportive by purchasing ads for the programs. The rest of the money comes from ticket sales.

Recently, though, a new challenge has arisen for the organization.

“We lost our venue,” explains Reis. “The Northshore Senior Center asked us to leave because they say they can’t afford to have us and they want to rent out the space more.

“This came as a surprise to me and it’s very problematic for the theatre.

“Right now, we don’t have any place to do our shows, though we have had some interest from the Rosehill Community Center in Mukilteo. And there are some Bothell residents rallying to keep us in Bothell. But, everything’s up in the air at the moment.”

Reis hopes that Curtain Call will be able to find another permanent home in the future.

He says, “I know it’s going to be hard. So many community theatres are struggling currently. It’s sad because local theatre really enriches a community. It enables people to attend quality live performances without having to travel a long way or spend a lot of money. It provides access to the arts to diverse audiences.”

Reis adds, “Maybe an angel will step in and help us.”

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