Thursday, December 24, 2015

Creating Wonders

 Alan Bryce and Doug Duval are creating wonders at Centerstage
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Dec. 24, 2015
front: Joshua Williamson and Katherine Jett, back: Cooper Harris-Turner in For All That. Photo courtesy Center Stage.

When I started writing theater reviews 10 years ago few people outside of Federal Way had ever heard of Centerstage, but in the years since, this little-known theater has blossomed into one of the finest in the Puget Sound region — thanks in large part to outstanding productions spearheaded by, and in some instances written and directed by, Artist Director Alan Bryce, who came here from London’s famous West End theatrical district (the equivalent of America’s Broadway). And thanks as well to rousing musical productions such as the great tribute of British Rock, I’m Into Something Good, and the many tributes to musical legends such as Sinatra and Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole spearheaded by Musical Director David Duvall. And the amazing musical war story For All That, written by Bryce, a musical play set during World War I on the little known Island of Lewis off the coast of Scotland. This play won national acclaim, including a write-up in Huffington Post — one more accolade to add to Centerstage’s ever-growing collection.
“Although Centerstage is surely doing a lot better financially than it was when I took over, we continue to push the envelope upwards to aim for bigger and better things, so it is a perpetual fiscal balancing act. I have a really strong relationship with our Business Manager, Judy Kent, who chastises me if we go over budget on anything. Judy is one of those unseen people behind the scenes who makes sure that we keep our financial house in order. She is incredibly valuable to Centerstage. It's also worth pointing out that our new Board President, Bob Dockstader, is making some dynamic changes at the Board level, changes of which I am heartily in favor,” Bryce says.
The year before Bryce took over, Centerstage's earned and unearned income totaled $75,000. The overall budget for that year was $100,000. This year’s budget is $330,000. “So I figure I have grown our revenues by about 450 percent since I have been here” Bryce says.
Ten years ago 75 percent of their audience came from within the city limits of Federal Way. Now 70 percent of their audience members are from out of town.
A vital part of the theater’s operating budget comes from the city. When the city threatened to pull their contract last year, they received nearly a thousand emails from theater patrons. Many of the emails stated that Centerstage was the only reason they came to Federal Way. “The negotiation process was constructive and both parties, Centerstage and the City (lead by the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Brian Wilson) participated with a very positive attitude,” Bryce says.
Next up is another play written by Bryce. It is based on the true story of seven people who died after taking cyanide-laced Extra Strength Tylenol . Death on the Supermarket Shelf comes to Centerstage March 4-20.
Next up is Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Stevie Wonder Songbook, a one-night-only show starring Sheldon Craig with David Duvall and the Purple Phoenix Orchestra to bring your favorite hits of Stevie Wonder. Catch this one night show on Saturday, April 2, at 8 p.m. And then on Friday, April 29 comes The Idiot's Funeral, a murder mystery dinner fundraiser at Twin Lakes Country Club, with a full-course dinner, a mystery that the audience gets to solve, and an auction to follow.
Mark Twain starring Michael Mauldin as the famous writer and humorist comes for an evening performance April 16 and a matinee April 17.
In May Centerstage will produce the hit comedy 9 to 5.
For more information on upcoming shows and other events, go to
Centerstage at Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way

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