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New ordinance guarantees 2013 season for Woodinville Rep

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Woodinville Repertory Theatre’s woes may soon be a thing of the past.

The local theater company, which had been battling temporary permit fees in order to continue using space at Denali Slab & Tile for its productions, expects to hear good news by the end of the year.

“We are confident that we are going to be able to have a season in 2013,” says Hjalmer Anderson, WRT’s Artistic Director. “It didn’t look promising before due to the high cost of the permit, which was threatening our continued existence here in Woodinville, but now we’re feeling pretty good about our future.”

Anderson explains that the City Planning Commission recently crafted an ordinance to allow for a zoning change. Organizations that produce live theater events will be able to use community spaces such as warehouses located outside of the central business district provided they don’t change the original use of the building.

Under the new ordinance, theatrical groups will not be burdened by the high costs of special permits to produce their shows in these spaces.

The city council plans to review the proposed ordinance at an upcoming meeting, which will also be an opportunity for public comment on the matter. Then it will go to a vote.

“We’re very optimistic that there’s no opposition to this change in ordinance,” comments Anderson, “as it comes from the top down and there’s lots of support for it.”

The situation, in Anderson’s opinion, is a natural win-win for everyone involved.

He adds, “It’s great for us, as well as for other theater groups, and then of course, the community benefits by having access to quality productions right in their own town.”

Bolstered by the positive news, WRT has gone ahead and scheduled its 2013 season, which will include four shows selected by the company’s play reading committee.

First up in January is the one-woman production, “Bold Grace: The Voyages of the Pirate O’Malley,” written by Auburn native Ashley Schalow and featuring Seattle actress, Anna Richardson.

“It’s a historical drama about a female Irish clan chieftain and pirate and spans several decades of her life,” explains Anderson. “Steve Cooper, who works with me over at NPAC and is a well-known freelance director, will direct the show.”

In March, the company will present “Greater Tuna,” by Joe Sears, Jaston Williams and Ed Howard.

The play, which Anderson will direct, is a comedy about Texas’ third smallest town and it has been described as a satire on life in rural America.

“Passengers” by Sam Bobrick is on tap for June and Cooper will once again take the reins as director.

“This show takes place in a small mid-western bus station,” explains Anderson. “It consists of eight short scenes that vary from comedic to poignant. There’s a bit of a moral message in this one.”

The company’s last production, scheduled for October, will be “Wally’s Café,” a three-character play about a man who buys a café on the wrong side of the road that goes to Las Vegas.

“It was done on Broadway and off Broadway,” says Anderson, “and it’s a wonderful comedy.”

All of the shows will be performed at Denali Slab & Tile, where WRT is currently in residence.

“We’re very excited about the season,” comments Anderson, “and we hope to get a lot of full houses, which will then allow us to continue to increase the number of shows in the coming years.”

He adds, “The plan is to eventually move into our permanent home — the old schoolhouse in Woodinville — once the Woodinville Historical Society is able to secure the place. We will be one of the tenants, located on the second floor. Having a permanent place was always the dream of founder Peg Phillips, and I do believe her dream will come true. We have the support and the momentum to make it happen.”

For more information about WRT’s upcoming season, visit www.woodinvillerep.org.

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