Harlequin Productions Theater Upgrades

Olympia, WA


Backstage Magic

Harlequin Productions has called the State Theater in Olympia home for over 30 years. Originally constructed in 1949 as a movie theater, the building is a contributing structure in the Washington and National Historic Register for the Downtown Olympia Historic District. The building is no stranger to show business, so our work was to listen to its present-day performing artists and audience to provide a contemporary update.

The first phase of this multi-year project aims to amplify the visitor experience and energize staff and show casts by significantly enhancing the operational and acoustical functionality, and integrating key back-of-house building system improvements that will finally give actors a real home in the building.

The State Theater was designed by Wohleb & Wohleb Architects in 1948 as a place for moving pictures, with stadium seating for 1,000 patrons. In the spring of 1998, Harlequin Productions, a non-profit theater company, purchased the building to be used for live theater. Today, the building is in need of a revitalization of its essential elements that touch the experience of the visitor as well as actors and staff, including new bathrooms and showers, expanded dressing rooms, and a green room and kitchenette. Our work focuses mainly on quality-of-life improvements for the actors and technical staff–giving them spaces that don’t exist now, but that they desperately need to produce better shows and expand their production capacity.

Future project phases will focus on enhancing ticketing, arrival, and gathering experiences through vestibule improvements, a lounge, and ADA restroom improvements. These phases will also add a rehearsal / black box theater to allow for smaller productions and expanded rehearsal opportunities, create dedicated dressing rooms and restrooms that are accessible and gender neutral, provide improved theater production deck space, optimize the existing office spaces to improve collaborative work and employee comfort, and help the building use less energy. Rehabilitation and improvement of the theater will increase Harlequin Productions’ reach, equity, and social discourse to a wide range of communities.


Seasons in Operation: 30+

Productions to Date: 160+

Ghost Lights: 1