The Lakewood Theatre Company has lifted the curtain on its sixtieth season with its current production of South Pacific. Sixty never looked so good and here’s why.
1. They want to share the love. The love of theatre runs deep among the Lakewood Theatre Company crew and they’re determined to share that passion by tracking down the best material that will connect with their audience.
Executive Director Andrew Edwards estimates they read more than 100 properties per year and scout for talent all over the country. They like to feature new talent and new material when possible. Out of the 41 actors in the current production of South Pacific, more than 20 are making their debut performance on a Portland area stage. With more than 170 performances a year, “We have to keep hitting the ball out of the park,” explains Edwards, to stay in business as long as they have.
2. “We try to live within our budget.” Although the Lakewood Theatre Company’s mission is to nurture and promote a love of drama, it is also a business, as Edwards knows all too well. So when he talks of success, he talks of long-range vision and incremental growth in addition to premier performances and an engaging blend of shows.
3. Bragging rights. The Lakewood Theatre Company is the oldest continually operated not-for-profit theatre company in the Portland metro area.
4. Wide appeal. While located in Lake Oswego, the Lakewood Theatre Company serves and draws from a 60 mile radius including Clackamas, Marion, Multnomah, Washington and Clark Counties in Oregon and Washington. In fact Lake Oswegans only account for about 25 percent of the LTC’s participation and contribution numbers. The rest comes from the wider area.
5. Volunteers. The back crew that helps keep the Lakewood Theatre Company running is 400-500 strong with volunteers involved in everything from office work to fundraising to physical labor.
6. Intimate theatre. As an audience-goer, I can attest, there ain’t a bad seat in the house. The new auditorium completed in 2003 features 220 seats with none further than 35 feet from the stage.
7. Variety. The Lakewood Theatre Company manages that balance between listening to their audience and bringing their audience along. Edwards explains the Company’s philosophy in challenging both actors and audiences by bringing in a variety of productions, some audiences are not always familiar with. He likens it to dining out where trying something new can make the experience that much more delightful.
8. People keep coming back. The average sell-out rate for each show is 85-90 percent, mostly from pre-sold subscription packages. That’s high for a non-profit theatre by industry standards.
9. Continuity. Andrew Edwards started out with the Lakewood Theatre Company back in 1977 in a six month temporary position. Thirty five years later he has traded in his acting and directing hats for that of executive director who is a bit of an icon in this town. He’s not the only one to see a good thing and want to make it grow. Many of the volunteers and staff have been around for 10-15 years. They’re invested in the Lakewood Theatre Company and it shows.
10. Location. The Lakewood Theatre Company benefits from the rich theatre milieu of the Portland metro area, drawing from a wealth of talent both onstage as well as behind-the-scenes.
I have to add one more: the Costume Sale being held this Friday and Saturday, October 12 and 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This was a “must attend” event for my wife when our kids were in trick-or-treat mode and she was an art literacy volunteer in search of costumes for her presentations. Past finds included matching Dorothy of Oz dresses for our daughter and her, a drum major hat, cheerleader outfit and a roaring 20s dress. Don’t miss it –the Lakewood Theatre costume castoffs could make you a big hit at this year’s Halloween party.
The lineup for the Lakewood Theatre Company’s sixtieth season includes: South Pacific, Art, Grand Hotel, Rumors, La Cage Aux Folles, White Christmas on the main stage and Mr. President, Fiorello! and Call Me Madam on the Side Door stage. Read more.
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