On Stage

Filling Seats, Take Two

Of clapping and collaboration

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

In last week’s issue, I drew attention to the Bellingham Theater & Performing Arts Forum that will be happening from 1-4pm Sat., Jan. 11 at iDiOM Theater.

The forum is designed to bring various theater and and arts organizations together and get them talking about challenges facing the creative community, resource sharing and collaboration, the possibility of a future arts lobby and discerning if there’s a pressing need for new venues.

I recently accepted an invitation to be on the panel as one of the “working arts professionals” who will be on hand to discuss the bullet points, and it got me thinking about the state of our local stages.

While some of the shows I see are better-attended than others, I’m here to tell you there’s a lot going on in this not-so-subdued town (unless it’s the week after Christmas). And collaboration is alive and well.

At the iDiOM’s 48 Hour Theater Festival last weekend, for example, cross-pollination of the arts scene was on full display, with actors from around Bellingham getting in on the act.

Other examples of creative cooperation are easy to find. The Bellingham Theatre Guild is currently lending its space to the Neighborhood Playhouse for a kid-friendly production of Charlotte’s Web. More than a few Western Washington University theater students are now mainstage performers at the Upfront Theatre. Those same players can occasionally be found populating performances at the iDiOM. Additionally, Kuntz and Company often combines the talents of professional dancers—many from Bellingham Repertory Dance—with those of community members.

Matt Christman, who runs the Firehouse Performing Arts Center with his wife Alona, has seen numerous arts organizations such as Kuntz and Company utilize the converted fire hall—which seats about 80—since opening for business in 2004.

When asked if he thinks Bellingham needs more venues, Christman says it couldn’t hurt.

“Some of the artistic genres, notably theater and dance, could use access to a modestly sized, well-equipped theater available at a reasonable price,” he says.

“That being said, Bellingham is still small,” Christman adds. “Ongoing patronage is critical to sustaining facilities. There is already so much competition for audiences that I question whether Bellingham is at a place where it can consistently generate appreciable audiences to warrant the creation of new spaces, both for the success of the new as well as the survival of the existing.”

iDiOM Theater’s Glenn Hergenhahn, who’s organizing the Performing Arts Forum, says he thinks Bellingham has the potential to become a destination for theater and dance.

“To do that, we need to harness the passion of all the talented individuals making great things happen in town,” he says. “We need to present a clear plan to the city and earn its support, and we need an active and ongoing conversation about art, life and what we hold dear.”

Ticket Cascadia
More On Stage...
Alien Alert
Top of the food chain

When Woody Ciskowski was growing up on Orcas Island, his television choices were limited, so the fact that he discovered the alien invasion spoof known as Top of the Food Chain was completely by chance.

“About 15 years ago, my father was late-night channel surfing our six channels and he…

more »
Randy and Lahey
A love like no other

Part of being in a successful long-term relationship is being willing to feign enthusiasm for your significant other’s interests. It’s one of the reasons I agreed to sit in on a marathon viewing session of the Canadian mockumentary Trailer Park Boys a few years ago.

“I think you’re really…

more »
Election Selections
Broadway Takes on Politics

What do the Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam, Groucho Marx, gangsters, suffragettes, Mamie Eisenhower, an elephant and a donkey have in common?

You’ll find the definitive answer by procuring tickets to Bellingham Music Club’s new cabaret-style musical, Broadway Takes on Politics, which runs…

more »
Handling the truth


The Music Man

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Family Game Night

7:30pm|DUG Theater

Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Komo Kulshan Ski and Snowboard Swap

4:00pm|Bloedel Donovan Gymnasium

Gore and Lore Tours

6:00pm|Historic Fairhaven and downtown Bellingham

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

Skagit Community Band

7:30pm|Maple Hall and Brodniak Hal

Top of the food chain


12 Minutes Max Fall Showcase

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center


8:00pm|Old Main Theater


8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Phenomenal Woman Cabaret

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Make It & Take It

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|Nugent's Corner

Cherry Point Forum

9:00am|Bellingham Technical College

Work Party

9:00am|Squalicum Creek

Scottish Highland Reel Competition

9:00am|Syre Center

Make a Difference Day

9:00am|Whatcom County

Fall Family Fun

10:00am|Glen Echo Garden

98221 Artists Studio Tour

10:00am|Anacortes and Guemes Island

Correspondence Club

10:00am|Mindport Exhibits

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|Peace Portal Drive

Bellingham Comicon

10:00am|Ferndale Event Center

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Harvest Happens

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

Community Meal

10:00am|United Church of Ferndale

Celebrating Vicky Marshall

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen

11:00am|Community Food Co-op

Cornhole Tournament

2:00pm|Boys & Girls Club of Whatcom County

Writing the Living Memoir

2:00pm|Ferndale Library


4:00pm|Bellingham Sportsplex

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

6:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Warfel Award Ceremony

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Skagit Symphony Gala Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Whose Live Anyway?

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Just another hardcore troubadour


MBT Once Northwood Steak and Crab
Handling the truth


Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Skagit Community Band

7:30pm|Maple Hall and Brodniak Hal

98221 Artists Studio Tour

10:00am|Anacortes and Guemes Island

Harvest Happens

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

The Fungus Among Us

10:00am|North Lake Whatcom Park

Lynden Book Club

12:30pm|Lynden Library

Sunday Market

1:00pm|Alger Community Hall

Praise the Salmon

1:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Living Proof

4:00pm|Village Books

Benefit Variety Show

6:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Greg Proops

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Everybody’s Store Lydia Place
Handling the truth


Word Sprints

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

October Chores in the Garden

6:30pm|Skagit Valley Food Co-op

Crossing Zion

7:00pm|Deming Library


8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library


9:30pm|Green Frog

see our complete calendar »

MBT Once Village Books Andrew Subin Swinomish 2016 Lydia Place Everybody’s Store Artifacts Wine Bar Northwood Steak and Crab MBT Ben Folds Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1