City closing curtain on Centerstage theater

By Winter Dorval - Staff Reporter

Centerstage Theatre's most recent show was about people seeking a little bit more money. Now the city's resident theater company needs a lot.

The city of Federal Way has informed the theater company that its contract to manage the Knutzen Family Theatre will not be renewed.

In the contract, the city was supposed to give 130 days' notice before terminating the contract, but those rules don't apply if it expires.

"We were told as recently as March that the contract would be renewed and then on April 18, 78 days before the expiration date on June 30, we got an email saying the city would not be renewing the contract," said Trista Duval, Centerstage's interim artistic director. 

Centerstage was established in 1998.

Their past season has included 10 shows.

They are paid $100,000 a year to "manage the space, which includes scheduling performances, events, and customer care," Duval said.

Of the $100,000, $70,000 is split among the four employees at Centerstage, she said.

"The remaining $30,000 goes towards janitorial services, maintenance and minor repairs, and utilities," Duval said.

Centerstage's yearly budget is $350,000.

 "I've lived in Federal Way for 10 years, and this isn't just about losing my job. The city stands to lose one of its best arts assets," Duval said.

They can't move to the Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center or rent the Knutzen Family Theater because they can't afford to pay rent along with maintenance and their salaries, she said.

They can't get grants because the deadlines have passed and they wouldn't get the checks in time, and it has been hard finding more sponsors on such short notice, she said.

 "Centerstage brings in business for local places too because often people go to dinner then a show," Duval said.

They've sold more tickets for this year's pantomime than in any previous years, and the number of season tickets they sold has quadrupled from last year, she said.

Their most recent show, The Pajama Game, directed by Trista Duval and assistant director Tyler Harr, was a lively rendition of a trying love story. A worker at a pajama factory falls in love with her supervisor, when they end up on opposite sides of a strike.

The workers want a seven and a half cent raise, and as her supervisor he can't condone the strike.

Centerstage will be announcing their next season soon, Duval said, as they hope to find a way to stay at the Knutzen.

The address for Centerstage theater is 3200 S.W. Dash Point Rd., Federal Way.

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