[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The B-Town Blog, nor its staff:]

LETTER: Burien Annex update from the Hi-Liners Musical Theatre 1

Hi-Liners Musical Theatre (HMT) is moving forward with our plans to leave the Burien Annex on January 31. The six-month extension has provided a much needed reprieve for the other tenants in the buildings, but it does not have the same impact on HMT. When news came of the ending of our lease, HMT had already moved weekday classes and rehearsals to the Highline Performing Arts Center. Our plan was to hold performances and weekend activities at the Annex. When we learned about the termination of our lease and the condition of the building in December, we had to move quickly to change our spring schedule to accommodate the move. It is crucial for our families and our organization that we remain on that trajectory.

Continuing our path to leave the Annex
When we heard about the City Council’s recent decision to extend tenant leases through July, we considered staying in the Annex for the six month extension. However, two things convinced us to stick to our plan to leave.

First, we have already changed our season schedule once, creating disruptions and conflicts for our families. Changing our dates and venue again would not be fair or wise from a business perspective. Second, our experiences during the January production of Legally Blonde Jr. confirmed our decision to leave the Annex. We couldn’t regulate the temperature in the auditorium – the wall unit would read 75 degrees, but we were shivering. On opening night, the roof was leaking into the hallway garbage can. The following night, the trash can developed a crack and leaked rain water all over the floor. The next day the door to the studio/dressing room kept locking. We don’t know how, but we kept getting locked out. We found a man, unconscious, leaned up against the back door while our audience was arriving one night. We called 911 and apparently saved him from an overdose. We had a fire watch attendant at all times during the second weekend because the fire panel had failed the annual test, which meant the alarm was not notifying the fire department. Each day involved some facilities issue, so it is time for us to move on.

Amazing support from the community
When the community learned that we would need to find a new performance venue for the future, the response was amazing. Amy Dowell at the Highline Performing Arts Center responded immediately, working with our staff to find available dates for Frozen Jr., which will now perform April 11 &12. (Get that on your calendar now, as this move means that you only have three opportunities to see the show, but it also means we have lots of seats to fill!)

When we explained to everyone that we were losing our performance venue, we were overwhelmed by people wanting to know how they could help. We encouraged people to buy tickets to our production of Legally Blonde Jr., and the community pulled through, making the production the highest selling show at the Annex EVER. Through the community’s generous donations we raised $6,227 to go toward offsetting the increased cost of the Highline PAC rental for Frozen Jr. technical rehearsals and performances. We are thankful and humbled by the support.

Ways to help
If you are interested in helping us to keep providing arts opportunities to our community and to get through this rough patch, there are lots of ways! To start, buy tickets, starting with Frozen Jr. in April. Encourage your child’s school to attend our student matinée. Plan on doing something with us this summer – see Les Miserables July/August, enroll your child in camp, or have them audition for our summer show (we’re hoping it will be Moana!). You can also contribute the following ways:

Moving forward
The next year is going to be crucial to determining our survival. If we have to continue to present our performances at the Highline PAC, our costs will increase exponentially, because one day on the stage at the Highline PAC is equal to one month at the Annex. We are a nonprofit organization that has been a part of this community since 1966, and we are going to do everything we can to remain here. Theatre arts provide a safe place for young people to express themselves. In a time when kids carry social opinion around on a device in their pockets, finding a place to belong can be a lifesaver.

Thank you to everyone for your concern and care. The show will go on!

– Kathleen Edwards
Artistic Director
Hi-Liners Musical Theatre

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