October 25, 2011
Issaquah leaders often describe local qualities as treasures — a quaint downtown, mountain panoramas, historic buildings and more.
Local businesspeople describe such attractions as “tourism assets” all set for out-of-town guests to enjoy and, in the process, spend dollars in hotels and restaurants.
Issaquah Chamber of Commerce officials gathered representatives from local “tourism assets” Oct. 18 to discuss successes and opportunities to lure more tourists to the area.
Leaders from artEAST, Cougar Mountain Zoo, Village Theatre, and other Issaquah attractions and events, said attendance is strong, but sometimes people overlook local offerings.
“Tastin’ N Racin’ — unfortunately — is Issaquah’s best-kept secret,” event organizer Craig Cooke said. “Nationally, it’s not. There are events in 13 other states that have all called and patterned their event on what goes on on land and what goes on in water.”
Tastin’ N Racin’ attracts 20,000 people — and sometimes up to 50,000 — to Lake Sammamish State Park each June for hydroplane races and onshore offerings.
Other long-established attractions face a similar challenge in luring potential tourists.
September 9, 2011
NEW — 8 a.m. Sept. 9, 2011
The city Arts Commission seeks cultural organizations and programs for the latest round of arts grants.
The city offers grants each year for organizations to present performances and programs in public spaces and local schools.
Only projects inside Issaquah city limits or at Issaquah School District campuses qualify for funding. The deadline to apply for the grants is Nov. 4.
Commissioners awarded about $120,000 to 21 projects. The lineup included ArtWalk, Issaquah Farmers Market entertainment, Concerts on the Green, Shakespeare on the Green, performances at local schools and programs to help troubled youths.
August 9, 2011
The summertime Festival of New Musicals at Village Theatre is a laboratory to test original musicals before audiences.
Often, selections from the festival re-emerge later at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, or Mainstage, and sometimes on Broadway.
The festival introduced audiences to “Next to Normal” precursor “Feeling Electric” and “Million Dollar Quartet” before the musicals carted off Tony Awards on Broadway. “Next to Normal” also garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a rarity for musicals.
The recent Mainstage productions “Anne of Green Gables” and “Iron Curtain” debuted to Issaquah audiences at the festival. So, too, did “Take Me America” and “It Shoulda Been You” — Mainstage offerings in the 2011-12 theater season.
July 2, 2011
Discover 20 reasons to love Issaquah, from the highest Tiger Mountain peak to the Lake Sammamish shoreline, and much more in between. The community includes icons and traits not found anywhere else, all in a postcard-perfect setting. The unique qualities — Issa-qualities? — start at the city’s name and extend into every nook and neighborhood. (The lineup is not arranged in a particular order, because ranking the city’s pre-eminent qualities seems so unfair.)
The annual salmon-centric celebration is stitched into the city’s fabric. Salmon Days serves as a last hurrah before autumn, a touchstone for old-timers and a magnet for tourists. The street fair consistently ranks among the top destinations in the Evergreen State and, for a time last year, as the best festival on earth — in the $250,000-to-$749,000 budget category, anyway.
The majestic title for the forested peaks surrounding the city, the Issaquah Alps, is a catchall term for Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains. (Credit the late mountaineer and conservationist Harvey Manning for the sobriquet.) The setting is a playground for outdoors enthusiasts. Trails — some official and others less so — for hikers, bikers and equestrians crisscross the mountains, like haphazard tic-tac-toe patterns.
April 5, 2011
Village Theatre plans additional offerings at downtown venue
The curtain rises soon on the rebuilt First Stage Theatre in downtown Issaquah.
March 29, 2011
“Million Dollar Quartet” — the Tony Award-winning musical about a famous jam session — reaches Seattle next spring after originating at Village Theatre in Issaquah and achieving success on Broadway.
The national tour of the musical is scheduled for a run at the Paramount Theatre from May 15-20, 2012. Find ticket information at the Seattle Theatre Group website, www.stgpresents.org.
“Million Dollar Quartet” tells the true story of a chance meeting in December 1956 of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. The legendary entertainers jammed together at the Sun Records studio in Memphis.
The rockabilly musical debuted at Village Theatre in September 2007 and then on Broadway in April 2010. Actor Levi Kreis originated the Lewis role in Issaquah and continues to perform in the Broadway production.
“Million Dollar Quartet” garnered multiple Tony nods and a statuette for Kreis.
February 15, 2011
Musicals nurtured at Issaquah theater charm audiences and rack up awards in the Big Apple
The brick-and-glass theater along a fashionable street in Oslo, Norway, seems like a strange place to re-create Yankee suburbia.
Onstage, “Next to Normal” — a rock musical fostered in Issaquah — is about to be performed. The story about a suburban — and quite American — family straining against mental illness has been translated into Norwegian for the international premiere.
The debut last September marked a milestone for the musical. “Next to Normal” had already stormed Broadway — earning Tony Awards and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama in the process.
Before the accolades and Oslo, “Next to Normal” emerged in a Village Theatre program designed to foster original musicals.
The long-running program has cemented the reputation of the downtown Issaquah playhouse as a cradle for Broadway.
Village Theatre cultivated “Next to Normal” and the jukebox musical “Million Dollar Quartet” from unpolished ideas to splashy Broadway musicals in recent years.
February 15, 2011
How to succeed in show business
In hindsight, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” seems like a prescient choice for a fledgling theater in a then-distant Seattle suburb.
The musical debuted at the just-christened Village Theatre in April 1979 — decades before the downtown Issaquah playhouse received a shout out during a Tony Awards telecast and credit for sending acclaimed musicals to face the toughest audiences in theater.
Only, unlike the title of the inaugural musical, Village Theatre tried again and again.
The playhouse has churned out hits — including “Next to Normal” and “Million Dollar Quartet,” the Village Theatre-nurtured duo responsible for hauling in the Tonys — and some duds, too, in almost 32 years.
For a piece in the wintertime Issaquah Living magazine, I set out to chronicle the long — and often arduous — journey from the Festival of New Musicals or the Mainstage to Broadway. (Readers can find the magazine tucked amid the sales circulars in the B section.)
December 28, 2010
The economy lurched from the recession, population growth all but stalled and Issaquah — after cutbacks and setbacks in 2009 — defied the odds to reach major milestones throughout 2010.
Momentum returned in 2010 after a year spent in a holding pattern. Set against the backdrop of a fragile recovery, leaders cut the ribbon on businesses and roads, laid the foundation for preservation and construction, and marked tragedies and successes. Read more
December 14, 2010
The musical “Anne of Green Gables” is on track to beat the Village Theatre sales record for original musicals, the Issaquah theater announced Dec. 9.
The stage adaptation of the classic novel could beat the sales record “Million Dollar Quartet” set at the theater in 2007. “Million Dollar Quartet” debuted in September 2007, and then opened in Chicago a year later and on Broadway in April 2010.
“Anne of Green Gables” had sold more than 24,800 tickets — including season tickets — by Dec. 6, less than a month after the production premiered. The show runs in Issaquah through Jan. 2 and then in Everett from Jan. 7-30.
The projected total for tickets sold is 29,500 — including season tickets — and $1.125 million in sales. Read more