Power House Theatre is great addition to Walla Walla

The new theater, built inside an 1890 building, should attract theater-goers to the community.


Walla Walla, one of the oldest communities in the Pacific Northwest, has many grand and interesting buildings -- inside and out.

Whether wandering the downtown area or through neighborhoods such as those along Park and Catherine streets, there is much to be seen and admired.

The new (or is that old?) Power House Theatre -- on Sixth Avenue near Rose Street -- can now be added to the list.

A group of Walla Wallans has invested time and money into renovating the 121-year-old brick structure, originally built to supply gas to the city and later electricity, into a theater specifically to present the plays of William Shakespeare.

The remodel began in February and was amazingly ready to host its first production, "The Merry Wives of Windsor," last weekend. The transformation is impressive.

What's been done is to turn the old power house into a near-exact reproduction of the Blackfriars Theatre that was said to have originally been built in 1520 on the London site of a dissolved Dominican monastery.

"We are building the theater that Shakespeare built. From the perspective of the playwright, the director. He really built it for how people could see it and how actors could act," said Harry Hosey, treasurer and managing director of Shakespeare Walla Walla, the name of the ambitious group behind the Power House Theatre project.

The building's rebirth began with it being been taken over by Power House Theatre LLC. Grants, donations and in-kind work were used to restore and renovate the structure. Shakespeare Walla Walla will be the production company in charge of arranging and managing the performing companies who will take the stage.

In addition to hosting the works of Shakespeare, the Power House Theatre will also house performances of the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, the Whitman Summer Dance Lab, modern plays and more, according to supporters.

Bringing this innovative idea to fruition is, in itself, an accomplishment.

And as this group follows through on attaining its dream -- making Walla Walla a must-stop destination for theater-goers -- the entire community will benefit.

The Power House Theatre is a terrific addition to Walla Walla.


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