Awash in debt, Olympia's Capital Playhouse cancels season

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Financial troubles have taken center stage at the Capital Playhouse in Olympia, where theater managers are canceling the rest of this year's season because of the playhouse's daunting debt.

A show opening is usually a highly anticipated event at the Capital Playhouse.

"They're setting up for 'West Side Story' that opens Thursday and runs through the weekend, and it's an almost sold-out show," says the Playhouse's Kalen Grahler.

But as crews set the stage, the theater is getting ready to bow out - at least for a bit - calling off part of their 2013-2014 season.

"We've been in a tough spot for a while now, so it wasn't too much a surprise," says Grahler.

Simply put, the Capital Playhouse is drowning in debt.

Board member Lisa Cosmillo says past administrators got behind on payroll taxes by $220,000. She says current board members managed to negotiate that down with the IRS to roughly $67,000 - but that's still too much to fund the rest of the Season in a Box series.

So for now, the five shows slated from September to June will not go on.

"We're going to take a hiatus from Season in a Box and students on stage simply to recoup," says Cosmillo.

She says they've tried fund-raising but just couldn't get enough to stave off the cancellation.

Besides finances, it's been a rough few years for the theater.

An employee was was arrested and charged with 14 counts of child pornography, but the charges were dismissed after a judge ruled police improperly obtained evidence.

So the theater will take a brief intermission and come back for yet another act, hoping to get customers through its doors and ready for an encore.

"Just try to get ourselves back on our feet and get that debt paid down so we can come out of it even," says Cosmillo.

"West Side Story" will run through Sunday night. The playhouse will return to regular performances with the 2014 summer season.