Freeing the Phoenix

posted by TrudyL on December 21, 2005 at 1:30 pm

OLYMPIA, WA — In 1997, Harlequin Productions embarked on an impossible dream.

With the generous help of our audience and friends, we resurrected the State Theater to create one of the artistic jewels of our community.

To commemorate that achievement, the lobby ceiling was adorned with a new mural: “Rising Phoenix”. With the opening of the State Theater, the bar was raised. Harlequin Productions met the challenge, delivering high-quality, adventurous theater in a beautiful, intimate setting and serving as a powerful economic driver for Olympia’s downtown.

Despite superb ticket sales, the combined fiscal pressures of a sluggish economy and the drain of the State Theater mortgage undermined the finances of the company from ‘01 – '03.

In March, 2004, faced with imminent closure, Harlequin Productions asked the community to determine whether the company was “to be, or not to be.” An overwhelmingly positive response eliminated the crisis and all short-term debt. To ensure the future fiscal health of the company, we must now perform maintenance and upgrades on our home and retire the mortgage.

For more information, visit this website.

Theaters in this post

Comments (4)

KenLayton on December 21, 2005 at 1:42 pm

What about all the amber, blue, and white neon you yarded out of the auditorium? You ruined the whole ceiling in the auditorium by dropping the heighth so low. What about all the bums hanging around the theater shooting up drugs out front? Why don’t you use the free-standing boxoffice?

TrudyL on December 21, 2005 at 3:08 pm

Well Ken, it’s hard to do live theater with neon cancelling out the stage lighting. Also – for live theater – high ceilings are tough on acoustics – not to mention the heating/cooling situation.

If you have any suggestions about how to cure the ‘transient situation’ please contact the City of Olympia. They would be very appreciative of any help they could get to ‘clean up’ the downtown core. Not just on the corner of 4th & Washington but the entire area has this problem. Though I have to say, it has been MUCH less of a problem since we started piping classical music out front. In the last 8 months I have rarely seen anyone even hanging around our lobby.

We don’t use the freestanding lobby as it is #1 – not heated! #2 – not set up to run a live-theatrical box office. We’ve tried to come up with some ways to use it. For now, we preserve it because it is a beautiful piece of movie-theater history and makes the theater look great.

Any time you have any suggestions on how we can improve our theater we love to hear them! Keep ‘em coming. Send us some money too then we can actually afford to make improvements!


kateymac01 on December 23, 2005 at 6:09 pm

Have you seen the item posted a few articles below this — it’s titled “Loan Program for Theaters in Need.” This might suit Harlequin and the State. Keep up the good work (and thanks for pointing out that the homeless problem in downtown Olympia is not Harlequin’s fault, or any specific downtown merchant’s fault, for that matter).

TrudyL on November 22, 2006 at 3:50 pm

The State Theater project is going well. We have reached the $400K mark in the $1M campaign. We also just received a $20K matching grant from West Coast Bank. If you know anyone who was planning to contribute, now is the time!

We’ve recently had the marquee re-finished and repainted and it looks great. We also had the wiring redone as it was completely fried. The lights are now back on. Our tech wizard is now working on getting the neon on the marquee working again. Looks like it might be a dead transformer.

Hope you all are still coming to see shows. We need your support as always.

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