The owners of the historic Lincoln Theater, five years dormant, has a new theatrical partner with eyes on staging a production as early as Halloween — if they can get permits to do so.
Theater owners Deborah and Marty Marchant must address fire and other city code issues at the gutted 103-year-old former movie house, the Marchants and city officials said in recent interviews.
The Port Angeles couple will get together soon with city staff in hopes of obtaining temporary permits so GhostLight Productions, the Lincoln’s new resident theater group, can put on the production while work continues on the venerable 10,000-square-foot building, Deborah Marchant said Tuesday.
“We’ve reached out to them, and we’re due to meet by the end of August,” she said.
The Marchants highlighted the link they are establishing with GhostLight during a July 30 tour of the building, hosting about two dozen Port Angeles Business Association (PABA) members.
The Lincoln, which closed as a movie theater in 2014, has a new roof “so we don’t have the leaks,” Marty Marchant told the group in the large, bare theater auditorium.
Marchant and the PABA members were surrounded by exposed walls and unfinished ceiling feathered with puffy insulation.
Marchant said full renovation will include adding a catering kitchen, offering beer and wine sales, and installing renovated rest rooms downstairs and with Americans with Disabilities Act bathrooms on the main floor.
He said engineering for electrical, structural, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements has been conducted.
$2 million project
“In the end, it’s going to be a $2 million project, from this step forward,” he said.
“We’re looking at having comedians once a month, blues, live bands,” he predicted, adding second-run movies to the program.
Deborah Marchant said Tuesday that GhostLight’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit status would make it easier to raise funds for renovations while the Marchants’ Jam Properties of PA LLC can remain a for-profit company.
Information on donating to the fundraising effort is at www.gotothelincoln.com.
The partnership “will allow us to utilize and build the project out with their production company,” Marchant said during the tour.
“We also wanted to include the community in the project.
“We feel that’s the way it should be.”
The GhostLight crew has proclaimed the new partnership to audiences attending their popular production of “Mama Mia” at the Sequim High School Auditorium, which ends its run on Aug. 10.
“When we announce our partnership with the Lincoln Theater, it’s just an explosion of excitement,” “Mama Mia” director Mark Lorentzen, GhostLight Productions president, said during the tour.
Stairways might run down both sides of an enlarged balcony pointing toward the stage to fulfill fire code requirements, Marchant said at the tour’s end, while standing on the balcony, which was somewhat shaky.
Marchant estimated 200 would fit in the balcony, currently off-limits for seating, and 300 on the ground floor.
Fire Chief Ken Dubuc said this week that the decision on issuing temporary permits for the Halloween show might depend in part on the occupancy limit sought by the Marchants.
Dubuc said staff regretted allowing the Christmas musical comedy-pantomime, “Snow White and the Five Housemates,” to be staged for six days over two December weekends. The performances quickly sold out.
“Pretty much the general consensus was we shouldn’t have allowed it,” Dubuc said.
He said the production “morphed” into a longer series of performances and drew more people than anticipated.
“In retrospect, it turned into more of an event than we were aware of,” Dubuc said.
Four months later, temporary use and occupancy permits were denied for renowned jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson’s April 12 performance, which was held instead at Peninsula College’s Little Theater.
“We didn’t allow that one because it’s just not right to have an assembly occupancy that does not meet code,” Dubuc said.
“A sprinkler system is required in order for an assembly occupancy to be in that building.”
Dubuc would not rule out a Halloween show.
“If they limit ticket sales, there are perhaps ways they may be able to accomplish what they want to do in the interim,” he said.
“Without a doubt, it’s in our interest, it’s in the city’s best interest, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get the theater up and running and contributing to the community.
“We want to see that happen, but for that to happen, it needs to happen according to the code.”
Dubuc said “grandfathering” is not an option.
“Just because something was done in the past does not mean it’s the right thing to do now,” he said.
Rest rooms are also a concern, said Allyson Brekke, city community and economic development director, adding she still needs to see what’s planned for this fall.
When issuing the December permits, “we did emphasize it was a one-time situation,” Brekke said.
“We need to ensure we are keeping standards the same for everyone, and of course making sure people are safe.”