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Centerstage Theatre: Moving in and looking for renters

The boxes are being unpacked, casting for shows is continuing, and already, plans are being made to bring in more acts to Knutzen Family Theatre.

Centerstage officially took over the theater, with the official date of management starting on July 1. The Federal Way City Council voted to give the theater group the management role, along with a fee of $70,000, earlier this year.

"Everyone involved with the city has made the transition as easy as possible," Centerstage director Alan Bryce said.

"We've literally just been moving into the offices," Bryce said. "We're planning for the new season, there are a few new chores and the old chores...physically moving, old as I am, is a bit of a chore."

In addition moving boxes, Centerstage has been working on getting its upcoming season together. This includes casting three roles for the show "Contact," which was delayed from its original premier date this spring while Centerstage focused on the move.

However, Centerstage is also already beginning on the management process.

"We're working on bringing in more acts," Bryce said. "We've lost a couple groups — 9th Avenue Dance has moved to a middle school in Fife."

When the council had been debating whether to allow Centerstage to manage the Knutzen, 9th Avenue School of Dance had announced at a council meeting its intention to move recitals to another location if Bryce and Centerstage were given the management.

Bryce hasn't let the departure get him down, it seems, and is working to bring in some new acts.

In addition to Centerstage's performances, this year will feature other groups that have routinely used the Knutzen, including Missoula Children's Theatre and Friendship Theatre.

Bryce has also gotten four more acts in the works of coming to the Knutzen, including a performance by members of the Seattle Philharmonic, performances by the Black Box Opera, a one-man show and the potential for Martin Charnin, lyricist of "Annie," to come for a night of songs.

"When Knutzen was opened, there were 12 performing arts groups it was designed for," Bryce said. "Now there is only Centerstage. We are working hard to get them back."

Other plans

Bryce said Centerstage hopes to be able to have a small quartet perform at the theater from the Federal Way Symphony. The stage is too small for the entire symphony to perform together. Centerstage is also planning on reaching out to the local high schools about performing at the Kntuzen.

"We know there are folks out there who think we want to hog it all to ourselves," Bryce said. "But that's not the case. We want to make it really open to anyone. That's what it's there for. It's one of the things the critics never understood. Five shows only takes about five months. We are very keen to get potential renters to use the facilities."

To entice renters, Centerstage has slightly lowered the non-profit group rate for rentals than from what the city had. For-profit rates are still the same. Centerstage is also offering renters their marketing and ticket sales experience, for a price and only for those who want it — something the city was not able to offer.

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