Thursday, November 05, 2009

Brian Doig on the state of Lake City Playhouse

We got trouble, right here in Lake City. With a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for ...
Predicament. Because a predicament is what Lake City Playhouse is in.
"We were $40,000 in the hole when I started," says Brian Doig, who's in his fourth year as artistic director of Coeur d'Alene's community theater.
The deficit climbed to $80 and now $100K. But Doig remains guardedly optimistic, and for a number of reasons: the deficit is leveling out, audiences are growing, profitable musicals are on the way, and the recession isn't likely to get any worse for the financial-sector sponsors that LCP had been depending on in recent seasons.
Average audiences have climbed from 45 to 105 (and even higher, up to around 125, for musicals) in a converted-church of a theater that holds 170.
This year's Christmas show, The Little Princess, "almost sold out when we did it four years ago," says Doig. "And [director] Laura Little is as tireless in her promotional efforts as she is a talented director. It's a wonderful Christmas musical, and we're going to have Kent Kimball [Capt. von Trapp at the Civic two years ago] as the father.
They were selling tissues in the lobby the first time we did it, and I thought, 'Yeah, right....' But dude, you watch this show, you need the tissues."
Doig is philosophical about his theater's outlook. "As bad as things are, people are working hard. We are losing less. Last year, we lost five sponsors, who'd [sponsor] a night of a show for $1,500. But all our sponsors are investment firms, and they all got hit. If we just had those five, we would have made money last year for the first time in 10 years."
Tickets sales only cover about 60 percent to 70 percent of the theater's expenses.

But a guy can dream: Doig envisions, in the long term, the possibility of Lake City finding a location closer to the Sherman Avenue corridor (maybe somewhere around Fourth).
"It may seem dark and dim," Doig says, "but a lot of people are working really hard. And it's starting to respond -- we just need continued support."
"Frankly, for a few years, the product was inconsistent. But we're always trying to be better. At the same time, part of our mission is that we are a community theater -- and that means that we will have actors, sometimes, who are onstage for the first time."
And in an encouraging sign of cooperation among theater-lovers, says Doig, "we're starting to see more people from across the border involved" -- meaning that some prominent names associated with Spokane Civic Theater have offered to help Doig organize a fund-raiser sometime soon for LCP.
"People don't want to see another theater go down," Doig says.
"Right now, we're just focused on getting through this next season, with an eye on making it to our 50th. We're working hard to make sure that our 50th season isn't our last."


  1. Come on INLAND EMPIRE!!!! Here's your golden opportunity to do something worthwhile with 100 G's. Someone is going to buy a Hummer and a boat this year when they could become an historical figure for theatre and art in our region. I know there is someone out there who could make a difference.

    I am a professional theatre actor who was born and raised in Spokane. I had to leave my hometown to find work in bigger markets. There is no reason the largest metropolitan city between Seattle and Minneapolis can't have a thriving Theatre scene. Bobo, do we know if area theatres share their mailing lists? Is everyone digitally savvy? Is there a regional board? What keeps us united? I'm ready to put on a concert benefit to jump-start awareness and involvement in this region. If Missoula can do it, so can we.

  2. Keep up the fight Brian.