State Theater

204 E. 4th Avenue,
Olympia, WA 98501

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Related Websites

State Theatre-Harlequin Productions (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Act III Theatres, Evergreen Theatres, Tom Moyer Luxury Theatres

Architects: Benjamin Marcus Priteca, Joseph Wohleb

Firms: Wohleb and Wohleb

Functions: Live Theater

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: State Theatre, State Tri-Cinema

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 360.357.4010

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News About This Theater

Simplex amplifiers

The State Theatre opened on November 22, 1949 with June Haver in “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” and was first operated by Evergreen Theaters.

Constructed with stadium seating for 1,000 patrons, the former single screen theatre was triplexed in 1977, under Tom Moyer Luxury Theaters. On December 22, 1978 it was renamed State Tri-Cinema.

In 1983, the State Tri-Cinema became a second run theatre and later a dollar house before it closed in the late-1990’s.

In the spring of 1998, Harlequin Productions, a 501c (3) non-profit semi-professional theatre company, purchased the building to be used for live theatre, and began a $1.3 million dollar remodeling project.

The remodel created a level, semi-thrust sprung-floor stage with 220 seats set in a seven row amphitheatre arrangement. The furthest seat is 40 feet from the stage. A system of catwalks over the stage and audience provides lighting positions of 23' to 27' above the stage floor. Located on an open Tech Deck at the back of the house are an audio board and fully equipped lighting system, which allows for a variety of lighting options as well as a quality sound system with an emphasis on playback. An electrical isolated ground system is in place at four locations: in the first house row, the back aisle of the house, backstage and on the Tech Deck. A system of 6" conduit runs under the audience and stage floor to assist with cabling needs. The stage is accessible by a 9' x 10' roll-up door with a 36" loading dock.

In 2003, further enhancements changed the audience seating area to 212 and added both costume and property storage areas to what was once the two additional movie auditoriums. While there is limited backstage space, there is a fully accessible dressing room and bathroom for artist use. Future plans (2005-2008) call for larger dressing rooms, 80 - 100 additional audience seats, upgraded audio equipment and acoustical enhancement.

Contributed by Trudy Soucoup, Ken Layton, Bret Connell

Recent comments (view all 38 comments)

KenLayton on August 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Theater opened on Tuesday November 22, 1949. The theater manager at that time was Archie Zarewski.

Mr. G.K. Porterfield was one of the first projectionists at this theater.

KenLayton on August 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Boxoffice magazine covered the opening in their December 3, 1949 issue:

KenLayton on August 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm

May 6, 1950 issue of Boxoffice magazine profiles the theater’s seating, auditorium, and artwork on the walls.

JackCoursey on June 22, 2015 at 9:06 pm

I was just by the State the other day and the exterior is quite impressive! How was the theatre configured for the triplex-enclosed, split balcony with the main floor intact? Does any of the original interior ornamentation remain or was the interior gutted for the conversion to live performance? Something tells me the renovations were massive in that the seating went from 1000 to 212.

KenLayton on June 22, 2015 at 10:40 pm

I can tell you as I worked there (1977 to 1990) how the tri-plexing was done. The theater was originally designed with stadium seating (no balcony). The back half of the auditorium was walled off from the main floor. Then the walled off section was split into two auditoriums of about 100 seats each. The main auditorium held 500 seats after the tri-plexing was done by Tom Moyer Luxury Theatres. From my brief look after it was converted into live theater, ALL of the interior of the auditorium was changed. You would not recognize the interior of the auditorium anymore from the way it originally opened in 1949. The lobby is still somewhat intact though.

JackCoursey on July 19, 2015 at 8:38 am

Thanks! Would really love to see some pictures of the auditorium in its original state. The Box Office link is no longer functional.

KenLayton on March 22, 2018 at 9:27 pm

In “The Olympian” newspaper today is a story about the managing director of the theater suddenly resigning:

rivest266 on March 20, 2022 at 6:53 am

This reopened as the State Tri-Cinema on December 22nd, 1978. Grand opening ad posted.

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