I posted on facebook last week about how much I enjoy it when the critics are wrong. Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark opened last year to horrible reviews and ridicule about the costliness of its production. The show continued to plug along, attempting to fix things with numerous changes.
Suddenly, it worked! Last week Spiderman took in almost $3 million—shattering the single week record for one of my very favorite shows, Wicked. Hats off to you, Spidey!
Those changes and the sheer will to succeed undoubtedly played a part in Spiderman’s story, which makes me think of the Capitol Theatre. When I first started working here, I remember being told that statistically, the Capitol shouldn’t be able to operate here. A community our size simply could not run a theatre of The Capitol’s grandeur… that in order to have more than 100,000 visitors each year (which it does), the Theatre needed to be in community more than double our size. According to normal trends, the Yakima Valley was just too small to keep a big theatre up and running.
And yet, since 1975, the Capitol Theatre has been ignoring the numbers, and defying the odds; busy nearly half the days of the year. And while that busy-ness and usage indicate the Capitol’s success, more importantly, I think those in-use days are the reason for that success.
Unlike many similar venues in other cities, our Theatre is home to so much more than just touring performances. The Capitol is the home for the Yakima Town Hall Lecture Series, and the place to enjoy Yakima Symphony Orchestra performances. The Capitol is the chosen venue for the Washington Music Educators Association conferences—providing thousands of aspiring musicians the opportunity to perform on a grand stage instead of a school gymnasium. It is the place where Pacific Northwest University medical students receive their ceremonial “white coats” before beginning their residencies. High school pageants, popular entertainers from Comedy Central, and (my favorite) hundreds and hundreds of little dancers… year after year they all choose the Capitol for their events, performances and recitals.
And that is the secret to the Theatre’s success and overcoming the odds. The Capitol is a true community theatre, utilized, loved by, and belonging to the community. Without those Town Hall attendees, those high school kids and those baby ballerinas, the Capitol simply couldn’t exist. Hats off to the Capitol and to the community, too! It’s so good to see the underdog win!