Alongside the community, Lake City Playhouse works to rebuild Kootenai County's longest-running brick-and-mortar theater
By Taylor Shillam
The longest-running brick-and-mortar theater in Kootenai County, Lake City Playhouse has been awaiting its 60th season since before the pandemic, halted by a massive flood in 2021. Now, the theater looks to the community to help it rebuild, brick by brick, and see its future finally come to life.
“Lake City Playhouse has been a very important part of the theater community in the Inland Northwest,” shares Brooke Wood, Lake City Playhouse director. “It’s one of the oldest brick-and-mortar theaters in Idaho. It was the home to the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, and it has been a training ground for many actors who have gone on to work in the industry.”
The building is over a century old and was planted in its current spot on Garden Avenue in Coeur d’Alene in 1949, according to Brooke. “It started as a church and became a theater in the 1960s as the original home of CST, formerly the Carousel Players.”
Brooke shares that more than anything, the little theater on Garden has served as a place for people involved in the performing arts to call home. "LCP is a place that has opened its doors to actors and patrons alike to learn about themselves and the world through the lens of a show," she says. The theater prides itself on being "a home for all who seek a place to be creative and self-expressive," including children, adults, performers, learners, and those who love to watch a good show.
Before the flood, the theater was more than ready to emerge from the pandemic on a high note. “In 2021, we were very excited to come out of the pandemic in a very positive manner, with money in our bank account and ready to do some updating on the building heating system,” Brooke reflects, a goal they were “so happy to reach."
Then, a large water pipe broke in the facility, resulting in broken bathroom pipes and "water up to our board members’ thighs," Brooke recalls. The flood severely damaged the bathrooms and most of their costumes.
“We were devastated by the outcome because it meant we would need to put off our season yet again,” Brooke says. “Due to the age of the building, the cost was more than insurance would cover. We made the decision to go to the public in 2023, and the response has been absolutely amazing. Our town doesn't want to see this gem go away any more than we do. There isn't anything like the playhouse."
Now they offer the community the chance to help rebuild the theater "brick by brick” and offer support by sponsoring bricks with online donations. The theater will feature each donation on their new brick patio and outdoor gathering space at the front of the building. Brooke describes the fundraiser as a great way for people to place a "tangible stamp" on helping to save the playhouse.
This spring, the theater hopes to have a completed brick patio, along with a beer and wine license. Their idea is for the community to come and enjoy a beverage on the patio, while taking a look at all the people and businesses that helped them reopen."We're just getting started,” she says. “We have a three-tier plan to get our playhouse open and renewed.” The plan includes reopening with a facility fixed from the flood, including bathrooms, heating and cooling, seats and lights.
Brooke says the theater's hope is to eventually expand their footprint, leaving its integrity intact but adding offices and rehearsal space to rent out as residual income. They hope to host a community center for people to visit to train in theater, no matter their age or socioeconomic status, with the addition of after-school programming and more offerings.
In the meantime, Lake City Playhouse has an entire season planned to kick off upon reopening, with the hopes to be ready by the end of June 2024. "We also have several fundraising events planned to continue monetary flow toward reopening," Brooke adds. "We've just started our comeback and have many wonderful things planned!"
Brooke says the community can best support Lake City Playhouse through donations, made at LakeCityPlayhouse.com. With the community's help, Lake City Playhouse looks to the future with hope.
"Coeur d’Alene has said goodbye to a lot of older buildings," Brooke says. "Our major goal is to not join them. The charm of the playhouse is her superpower."