LAKEWOOD, Wash. — The Lakewood Playhouse, located in the heart of the city, is celebrating 75 years of performances with over 400 plays and musicals and one million volunteer hours contributing to the theater’s success.
Three times the age of the City of Lakewood, the Lakewood Playhouse first opened in 1938 and has evolved with the city since its incorporation in 1996. An intimate theater seating 167 audience members, the Lakewood Playhouse is the oldest “black box” theater in Washington state. The black box theatre environment concentrates on the theatrical performances with minimal sets and parallels the Playhouse’s focus on community.
“Theatre is created through the relationship between performers and their audience. Theatre is like a family and we look forward to many more generations of designers, actors, directors and audience members who will join ours for years to come,” says Lakewood Playhouse Managing Artistic Director, John Munn. “We can’t wait to share this momentous anniversary and 75th season with the community.”
Over the last 75 years, the Playhouse has flourished due to the Lakewood community’s involvement and love of the performing arts with volunteers donating over one million hours as designers, actors, directors and front of the house staff. Additionally, the Lakewood Playhouse Institute of Theatre offers an education program to build confidence and theatrical skills. More than 4,500 children and young adults have graduated from the program over the last 15 years.
The 75th anniversary celebration is Friday, September 13 at 4:30 p.m. at 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd. in Lakewood. Other than the performance of “Arsenic & Old Lace,” the evening festivities are free and includes the following schedule:
4:30 p.m. – Ribbon cutting with the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce with special guests Deputy Mayor Jason Whalen and City Councilwoman Marie Barth.
5:30 p.m. – Proclamation of “Lakewood Playhouse Day” from the City of Lakewood.
6:00 p.m. – Silent auction and wine and cheese reception generously donated by 21 Cellars Wine and hor d’oeurves from Carr’s Restaurant.
8:00 p.m. – Performance of “Arsenic & Old Lace.”
9:00 p.m. – Live auction and raise the paddle to support the Lakewood Institute of Theater and the building endowment. Auction items include glass artwork, signed memorabilia from Broadway shows as well as memorabilia from Dustin Hoffman and Jerry Lewis.
“Our community is fortunate to have a cultural gem for the performing arts such as the Lakewood Playhouse,” adds Ellie Chambers-Grady, economic development manager for the City of Lakewood. “We’re looking forward to the 75th season and to someday celebrating the Playhouse’s centennial anniversary.”
This season’s productions were chosen exclusively by the Lakewood Playhouse’s audience and community that participated in a five month poll with over 1,300 votes shared. Below is a list of upcoming shows that will be running through next summer including three from the Playhouse’s history and three shows never before seen at the theatre.
“Arsenic & Old Lace” by Joseph Kesserling, Sept. 13 – Oct. 13, 2013
Last seen at the Playhouse in 1997, this comedy has a little extra “something.” On his wedding day, a drama critic learns that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs, and that insanity runs in his family along with a fondness for arsenic-spiked elderberry wine.
“Pride & Prejudice” by Jane Austen, Nov. 8 – Dec. 1, 2013
Last seen at the Playhouse in 2001, sparks fly when the spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich and proud Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” by Edward Albee, Jan. 10 – Feb. 2, 2014
A Playhouse premiere, George and Martha face off as one of theatre’s most notoriously dysfunctional couples in Albee’s hilarious and provocative masterpiece. They are joined by an unwitting young couple invited over for an unforgettable night of cocktails and crossfire.
“12 Angry Men” by Reginald Rose, Feb. 21 – March 16, 2014
Justice can sometimes be blind when a 19-year-old man stands trial for the fatal stabbing of his father. It looks like an open-and-shut case until one of the 12 jurors begins opening the others’ eyes to the facts. This is a classic and tense American drama about the very human part of the judicial system.
“The Odd Couple” by Neil Simon, April 18 – May 11, 2014
Last seen at the Playhouse in 1967, Felix and Oscar are an extremely odd couple. Felix is neurotic, precise, and fastidiously clean. Oscar, on the other hand, is the exact opposite: sloppy and casual. Can they share an apartment together?
“Monty Python’s SPAMALOT” by Eric Idle, June 12 – July 12, 2014
A first at the Playhouse, the production with music by Eric Idle and John Du Prez was lovingly ripped off from the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Like the motion picture, it is a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian Legend, but it differs from the film in many ways, beginning with women slapping men in the face with fish. This musical comedy won a 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical.
“The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, Dec. 12 – 22, 2013
Following the success of last season’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” the Lakewood Institute of Theater returns with a beautiful presentation of the wondrous the adventure about a lion, a witch and a wardrobe.
Annual Halloween Radio Show: “The War of the Worlds,” Oct. 25 & 26, 2013
The celebration of the Lakewood Playhouse 75th anniversary will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the broadcast that panicked America on Oct. 30, 1938. The show will open with another twisted episode from the iconic radio show “Lights Out.”