In Historic Everett Theatre manager Curt Shriner’s world, the question of saving or selling the old playhouse largely owned by his brother is a matter of finding more partners. The theater is for sale for $1.9 million. Curt Shriner, shown here in the mirrored lobby, plans to stay on as an owner and manager. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

In Historic Everett Theatre manager Curt Shriner’s world, the question of saving or selling the old playhouse largely owned by his brother is a matter of finding more partners. The theater is for sale for $1.9 million. Curt Shriner, shown here in the mirrored lobby, plans to stay on as an owner and manager. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Historic Everett Theatre holds an audition for new investors

Says a prospective new owner, who is a local actress: “Culture strengthens the community.”

Onstage at the Historic Everett Theatre, Sam Samano played beauty-shop owner Truvy Jones in “Steel Magnolias,” dispensing sass, sweetness and hairstyles. She performed there in “The Odd Couple,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Wait Until Dark” and many other shows.

Now, the local theater favorite plans to become a part owner of the place.

“There’s a love for this theater I wanted to stay a part of,” said Lorraine “Sam” Samano. “Culture strengthens the community.”

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Historic Everett Theatre manager Curt Shriner will host the second of two meetings for others interested in possibly becoming partners in the 1901 building, and business collaborators. Samano, who is in her 50s, said Monday she intends to get in on the real estate deal.

Along with their investment, partners would be part of the nonprofit Historic Everett Theatre Preservation Society’s board of directors.

The theater is largely owned by Shriner’s older brother, Craig Shriner, 69, who bought it in 2014. Curt Shriner said his brother, who lives in Woodinville, intends to sell the theater, retire and move to Utah. Both brothers have worked in real estate.

“He is offering to my group a $1.9 million purchase price,” said Curt Shriner, 67. “Market value is probably around $2.6 million.” In March, the theater at 2911 Colby Ave. was listed for $2,450,000 on the website of Colliers International, a real estate company with a Bellevue office.

Curt Shriner and his wife, box office manger Laura Shriner, met and were married in the theater. They already have partners. With Iris and Charles Lilly, Curt’s sister-in-law and brother-in-law, and Bryan Olson of Shoreline, they have made a $300,000 down payment.

Shriner hopes several more people will join them as co-owners. “We’re looking for three or four serious buyers,” he said. Everett-based Coastal Community Bank “is willing to work with us.”

Programming has been booked for this year, and Shriner is working on next year’s schedule. The crowd was good Saturday for Mark Farner’s American Band with Medicine Hat, he said. This Saturday’s show is James Garner’s Tribute to Johnny Cash.

Improv comedy nights, tribute bands, silent movies and community theater productions are on the schedule too. In August, Curt and Laura Shriner, Samano and Iris Lilly will be on the bill in “Farce of Habit,” a comic play.

“We’ve got a good, established business going,” said Shriner, who plans to continue as theater manager.

“The meeting last week had 15 interested parties, but we want anyone interested in this opportunity to get the chance to participate,” Shriner said in an emailed announcement of this evening’s gathering. It will include a building tour and question-and-answer session. “This is not a sale of stock or securities, it is a business and real estate opportunity,” Shriner said.

Designed in 1900 by noted architect Charles Herbert Bebb, the playhouse was built for $70,000. There were big changes in its facade after a 1923 fire. Today, the 834-seat theater is a Washington Heritage Register property.

Some years ago, it was saved from the wrecking ball by the Schack family. Local philanthropists, the Schacks donated a note on the building to the Snohomish County Music Project. Craig Shriner bought the note from that nonprofit.

“The grand old dame of Everett” is how the late David Dilgard, longtime historian at the Everett Public Library, described the theater. At last week’s meeting there, people “felt it would be a real shame to lose that building,” Shriner said. “They don’t make those anymore. We need to preserve them.”

Samano lives in Everett and is a supervisor with WorkSource Snohomish County. She has directed and choreographed shows at the theater, along with acting. She has often been on the theater’s board.

Determined that the old building remain a theater, Samano said her initial stake will be $25,000.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “It’s been bubbling. This is not just about the investment. It’s investment in the community. I want to be a part of that.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Theater meeting

The Historic Everett Theatre Preservation Society will host a meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday for people interested in possibly becoming partners in the building and business. Event includes building tour and a question-and-answer session. The theater is at 2911 Colby Ave. To attend, email your RSVP to hetmanager@gmail.com.

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