Washburn High School Launches Gala For New Theater

School auditorium is badly in need of renovations.

Get out your gowns and suits, fans of Washburn High School. Next Saturday, parents and friends of the school are putting on their first-ever gala fundraiser to help raise money for renovations to the school's theater.

Saturday, Nov. 10, attendees will get to enjoy drinks and appetizers while students and accomplished alumni—including local crooners like Charmin Michelle and Ginger Commodore—serenade them from the stage of the Parkway Theater. The event runs from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and tickets can be purchased online from the Washburn Arts Council. Tickets start at $40.

"The auditorium was part of the original building which opened in 1925 and now is in dire need of renovation," Washburn's choral and musical director Nancy Lee said in a written statement emailed to Patch. "We are grateful for the fundraising support the Council and Foundation are undertaking.”

"Grateful" is probably an understatement. The auditorium's paint is peeling, and its decidedly sub-par microphones and amplifiers contrast with the school's burgeoning reputation for a strong arts and performance program. In last year's Hennepin Theater Trust Spotlight Awards competition, judges actually docked the school points for the theater's sound system.

Washburn ultimately won Outstanding Performance by Chorus/Ensemble, Honorable Mention Achievement in Dance, and Honorable Mention Performance by Student Orchestra for their spring musical, "FAME." Southwest High School won Outstanding Overall Performance, Outstanding Overall Production, and Outstanding Performance By A Student Orchestra for this spring’s “Hairspray.” 

The Washburn High School Foundation and the Washburn Arts Council say they hope to raise enough money to replace the sound system and purchase sixteen wireless microphones, to put the school on par with other metro-area high schools.

This year, Washburn's students will be putting on 25 performances, including three musicals: "My Feet is Tired, but my Soul is Rested," "The Elves and the Shoemaker," and "Urinetown."

PSam November 02, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Fully support the effort and love the positive energy and burgeoning community support for Washburn! One general comment is having been inside Washburn repeatedly this Fall, I'd encourage the District to continue to strongly support the student and community efforts to improve the physical space. Painting the auditorium and other common spaces (many of the walls are quite past their prime) would be terrific, and seems like something the District should do. Small things, yes, not as important as other priorities, yes, and not meant to detract at all from other positive District efforts (including the partnerships that brought the new football field turf). When it comes to "dire" conditions and peeling paint, though, that seems like something that should not require extraordinary parent efforts - in any school - to remedy, even in a District with as many needs as MPS.
James Sanna November 02, 2012 at 06:42 PM
It's a valid question, for sure. Anyone out there know the deets of the district's capital fund? I know the've got a boat-load of deferred maintenance (Roofs in need of replacement, HVAC that needs upgrading, etc. etc. etc.), but would theater rehabs come out of that same pot of money?


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