Company awarded one of 18 Meyer Memorial Trust grants

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lakewood Theatre Company's proposed 40-by-50-foot rehearsal facility would be located on the north end of the center's property, adjacent to the main performance hall. Lakewood Theatre Company is $100,000 closer to building a dedicated rehearsal space.

On Friday, Meyer Memorial Trust announced it was awarding 18 grants — worth about $3.6 million — to organizations in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Of that, $450,000 was earmarked for arts and cultural organizations.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Alex Fox (from left), Olivia Shimkus, Leif Norby and Todd Hermanson star in The Thirty Nine Steps, Lakewood Theatre Companys current production.Lakewood Theatre was honored alongside the Astoria Music Festival and Chachalu, which will be the first tribal museum and cultural center for the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.

Lakewood Theatre’s $100,000 grant will go toward construction of an $800,000 artist training facility and other renovation projects at the performance center on South State Street, according to Andrew Edwards, executive director of the Lakewood Center for the Arts. Edwards calls the training facility a “capstone to what we call our ‘phase one’ capital campaign,” part of a five-year plan for facility improvements like office, lobby and sidewalk upgrades.

The 40-by-50-foot facility will be located on the north end of the center's property, adjacent to Lakewood Theatre’s main hall. The company still has about $450,000 to raise to meet its goal for the facility.

Founded in 1952 as Lake Oswego Community Theatre, the company obtained the former Lakewood School in 1987 and changed its name to honor its venue. Now a 501(c)(3) organization, Lakewood Theatre boasts a 220-seat auditorium and sells out about 90 percent of its performances.

Edwards said the company is in a way a victim of its own success.

“We are running out of space for artists to do their work,” he said, explaining that studios used for rehearsals are much smaller than the actual stage where performances take place, making the rehearsal-to-live show transition difficult.

On June 30, the Lakewood Theatre board of directors announced that the performance hall will be named in honor of the Warner family, longtime local benefactors who have provided support to the organization for the past 20 years.

The company’s current season includes a mix of well-loved plays and musicals, including “Mame,” a Hitchcock film adapted for stage and newer musical theater offerings like the Portland-area premiere of “Young Frankenstein.”

“The facility will immensely help not only our mission, but the caliber and quality of what we do,” Edwards said.

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