Working in partnership with the City of Olympia, the Washington Center is announcing plans to bring some much-needed cheer to downtown Olympia this holiday season. During this year of global pandemic, we all need the comfort of something familiar.
“Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Washington Center has been actively working to begin operating to the public as a movie/film theater,” says Jill Barnes, Executive Director. Showing movies would require extensive social distancing, masking, and cleaning protocols, as mandated for all movie theaters in Washington State. “However, with the Governor’s announcement on Sunday,” says Barnes, “we’ve spent the week reimagining and rescheduling our plans.”
The Washington Center and Harlequin’s State Theater will have a festive exterior with garland and magical theatrical snow, thanks to many donors and supporters. The Washington Center’s interior lobby spaces will be festive with decorations designed and provided by long-time supporter and former board member Dorrie Carr and her daughter, Shelley Carr.
Beginning Saturday, Nov. 28 at 12:00 PM, a series of organ concerts featuring organist Sharon Stearnes on the Center’s historical Andy Crow Wurlitzer Organ will be piped out onto Washington Street to accompany shoppers in downtown Olympia. The Washington Center is also partnering with Nova Scotia’s Celtic music legends Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy’s, to virtually present Celtic Family Christmas at Home. The performance begins December 12 at 7:00 PM, and is available through December 31. Tickets are available on the Center’s website.
From November 28 through Dec. 13 each Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM – 5 PM, free gift wrapping will be available in the lobbies of the State Theater and the Washington Center. Free gift wrapping will also be available at the State Theater Dec. 19 and 20. “Bring your receipt from a downtown merchant and we’ll wrap your gift for free!” Barnes says. “This is just one of the many ways we’re helping support our local downtown businesses during this difficult time.”
“If restrictions are lifted after December 14 as is currently planned,” says Barnes, “we will offer free holiday movies to a socially distanced in-person audience.” Films currently planned include It’s A Wonderful Life (PG), Elf (PG), Home Alone (PG), A Christmas Story (PG), and more. The full offerings are available at https://www.washingtoncenter.org/holidaycheer/.
Washington Center presented movies are free with a $4/ticket reservation fee. Most tickets will be sold in packs of four to maximize capacity while accommodating physical distancing. A seating chart is available www.washingtoncenter.org; or contact Box Office staff at (360)753-8586. “Our Box Office staff are working on reduced hours as is every other Washington Center staff member,” says Barnes. “If the phone isn’t answered, please leave a message and they will return your call on the next shift.” Barnes notes that COVID-19 protocols apply to all shows, and the entire holiday schedule is subject to Safe Start Washington regulations.
In addition, several of our local partners filmed performances on the Washington Center stage prior to the Governor’s recent orders. Ballet Northwest will be presenting a film version of The Nutcracker at the Center if permissible, and Studio West filmed Boundless, which will now be shown at Shelton’s Skyline Drive-In Theater.
“The holidays are all about making memories with family and friends,” says Barnes, “and that’s never been more important than this year of hardship. We’re tremendously grateful to the City of Olympia for their support in this effort, and we ask everyone to mask up, follow the Governor’s guidelines, and most importantly stay safe and healthy.”