The Seattle Times has a piece outlining some new changes underway at the Columbia City Theater. Under new management, the new brains behind the theater have some big ideas on how to improve the space and make the most out of Washington’s oldest vaudville theater.
“You know that movie, ‘We Bought A Zoo’?” Lara Lavi asked as we stood on a balcony inside the Columbia City Theater. “This is that movie.”
It was a fitting comparison. People were running up and down stairs and milling about on the main floor. There was a slight odor about the place — not unexpected after almost 100 years.
And there was wondrous racket coming from the stage, where comedian and musician Ahamefule Oluo and his orchestra were rehearsing for his show, “Now I’m Fine,” before bringing it to New York next month.
If this is a zoo, then Lavi is the keeper with all the keys — most important, the one to the theater’s future.
Last month, Lavi and her husband, Maurice Jones Jr., a multimedia educator who worked with the Central Area Youth Association, were brought in by theater owner Peter Sikov to manage the place.
“We had a four-hour conversation where (Sikov) really saw who we were as artists and grown-up people,” she said.
Lavi, 55, brings years of experience to the role.
She is a working attorney who became the managing partner of Death Row Records in 2009 after negotiating an $18 million acquisition deal.
She has her own production company, called Dreaming in Color Entertainment.
And she is an artist who fronts the Lara Lavi Band and has a new, five-song EP called “Finish Line” coming out next summer.
“We bring emotional acumen, business acumen and a true love of the arts,” Lavi said. “And I am a player. I am doing this.”
Settling into one of the well-worn couches in the theater’s office area, she painted a vivid picture of what she sees for the place.
A thriving theater, with bookings on par with every other similarly sized venue in town. An education program, where students can learn not just performance, but recording, stage management, lighting, sound tech, marketing and promotion. A recording studio, where artists can feel comfortable to create.
She also wants to launch something called “DICE TV,” streaming live performances and artist interviews.
“This would be a media spot similar to ‘Austin City Limits,’ ” she said, referring to the long-running televised concert series on PBS. “This is a perfect production house for this. We want to make sure that every ounce of this building is monetized.”…