MARYSVILLE – While the Red Curtain Theatre may not have the roadside marquee of a 5th Avenue Theater like in Seattle, the Randall family and Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts have transformed 11,000 square feet of space behind the Goodwill with the luxuries of a full-scale arts center.
On a recent Tuesday night, the theater was abuzz.
Actors rehearsed lines for “The Fantastics” that will kick off the 2017-18 play season Sept. 8, while auditions were happening upstairs for “Blithe Spirit” and parts in a Big Gala Auction on Sept. 30 built around a murder mystery interactive dinner.
Meanwhile, volunteer costume and props managers were in the sewing room prepping for an upcoming play, and pieces from a children’s watercolor workshop were being sorted.
Artistic director Scott Randall said he isn’t surprised by the bustle, with some nights this summer having hosted as many as five different rehearsals and classes at the same time.
“We have always seen an interest in and untapped arts community in Marysville, not just for the artists themselves, but audiences and other patrons of the arts” who were far removed from live theater to the south, Randall said.
Red Curtain was originally affiliated with the Historic Everett Theatre, competing with other troupes for stage time for their performances and Hometown Hootenanny concerts.
However, they always had one eye looking toward Marysville, and put down roots when they leased the Dunn Lumber building. When the lease wasn’t renewed by the owners in 2015, Red Curtain relocated to their current theater space at 9315 State Ave. #J.
Ahead of opening night, Red Curtain volunteers are working to have the self-contained 22-by-50-foot stage, lighting and seating for 125 people ready, as well as the foyer, concessions, restrooms, ticket counter, mezzanine with a custom standup beverage area, heating and air conditioning.
“We like to get our hands into things,” Randall said. “This project has allowed hundreds of people to have their hands in building an arts center in the community. Everybody who participates in that then has a sense of ownership in the project.”
One of Randall’s five-year goals with foundation support is to address the stigma of calling Red Curtain a “community theater.”
“People think that means that it’s not going to be good,” said Randall, who’s been in show business for decades. “I’ve seen great community theater, and I’ve seen terrible professional theater.”
He would like to see Red Curtain gain the billing of a semi-professional theater, similar to the Driftwood Theater in Edmonds.
“It just means that everybody involved in the production gets paid something, even if it’s just a gas stipend or something like that,” he said.
Randall has high hopes for The Fantasticks, directed by 84-year-old Kent Johnson, who spent more than 50 years directing in Orange County, Calif.As the performance date nears, he said he puts it in the hands of the actors.
“The most useless thing in the world is a director on opening night,” Johnson said. “Invite me to the cast party, but that’s it.”
Johnon said he appreciates the hard work the Randall family has put into Red Curtain.
“What I so admire is the family aspect of it, that the three of them – Scott, Randy and Beckeye – worked as a team.”
Randall and Johnson spoke about the “blackout” conditions that are the magic of any theatrical stage. Through lighting improvements, technical staff will be able to create darkness to mask things the audience shouldn’t see.
“Now we can play with that element of surprise, and create some special lighting effects that we couldn’t before,” Randall said.
Johnson added: “Live theater is really escapism entertainment. People pay for two hours to be with nice people to talk to, a story that either moves them or frightens them, or a story that carries them to a different place. And it’s blocks from their home.”
The community has supported the center throught donations and grants to the tune of $175,000. Red Curtain is also seeking Founding Donors to recognize with a unique permanent display in the arts center lobby.
For details on shows, classes, donating or anything else go to www.redcurtainfoundation.org or call 360-322-7402.