PROSSER She is a true phoenix.
Once a silent movie house, The Princess on Meade Avenue suffered two disastrous fires and rose again.
During an extended closure in the meantime, her marquee remained dark, and she patiently waited to be rescued.
And then she was, first by the Mercer Family of Prosser and then by the Valley Theatre Company.
It was the actors, who wanted a theater of their own who have been The Princess’s greatest savior.
“We are bringing her back to life,” exclaimed Shara Forrister, theatre manager.
Since 1919, the Princess Theatre has undergone many revivals, but the latest reimagining of the old movie house is the one changing its entire character and its place in the community.
For a time, in 2004, she balanced on the edge of being a stage for a local community theater company.
But when Valley Theatre Company (VTC) took over the art-deco landmark, her fate was slated for bigger things.
The Princess is again a center for the performing arts, Forrister proclaimed.
The theater is open for family movies several weekends a month. The retro-fitted green room, serves as a room for pre- and post-play functions.
“And, it is always booked for everything from wedding receptions to awards dinners, and rentals,” Forrister said.
Yes, The Princess is back, all freshened up after her proud owners and cast of theater volunteers spent $100,000 on her from top to bottom makeover during the past several years.
The grand lady withstood years of neglect, Forrister admitted. There was a lot of damage to the roof and to the stucco finish… all of which took a lot of money to restore.
“We got the money with a lot of help of the community and the $100,000 State’s Heritage Capital grant, approved in 2017, by the state legislature,” she recalled.
“We discovered so many things about theater during our renovation project,” Forrister declared.
“The theater’s façade was completely redone. The marquee neon lights are completely rewired,” Forrister explained.
“The green room’s floor had to be completely redone, and it took approximately 8,000 pounds of leveling compound was used before installation of the vinyl planking,” Forrister noted.
The Princess is fast becoming the place where children can learn dramatic arts during summer camps, explained Forrister.
Earlier this month, the theater was the site chosen by the Washington State Community Theatre Association to host Kaleidoscope 2019.
“We hosted 11 visiting theatre companies, each performing plays on our stage,” she proudly reported.
The excitement surrounding the revival of the landmark is the direct result of local theater enthusiasts’ ongoing passion to restore The Princess.
And, there are more changes to come, said board member Paul Brooks.
“But,” he said, “That announcement will be coming later.”
In the meantime, VTC is in rehearsal for its final show of the current season, which opens April 25.
The Historic Downtown Prosser Association is planning a mystery dinner show in the Green Room in April. There are receptions, baby showers and more rentals in the green room.
“We’re busy every weekend and we’re very excited about that,” Forrister concluded.