They met at the Historic Everett Theatre, were married onstage, and in shows there often played husband and wife. Behind the scenes, as box office manager, Laura Shriner helped keep the 1901 vintage playhouse and onetime movie palace in business.
Historic Everett Theatre manager Curt Shriner, Laura’s husband of 17 years, was George Burns to his wife’s Gracie Allen in a vaudeville-style show. They played Jessica and Whitney, a cosmopolitan couple who favored martinis, in “Done to Death,” a murder-mystery comedy.
And in holiday productions of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Curt was George Bailey with Laura as his devoted wife Mary.
Laura Lee Shriner died last Thursday while on a trip to Las Vegas with her husband. Just the week before, on Oct. 9, they had celebrated her 56th birthday with an Anthony’s restaurant dinner.
“This theater is standing right here because of Laura Shriner,” said Curt Shriner, 68, who has operated the venue since 2014. He said Monday they were checking out of their Vegas hotel when his wife collapsed and died of what a doctor told him was likely a massive heart attack.
The Colby Avenue venue was quiet and its red plush seats empty Monday as Curt and his older brother Craig Shriner, a Woodinville real estate businessman and the theater’s primary owner, reminisced about Laura.
A petite blonde with a dazzling smile, she was running the lights for a 1998 staging of “It’s a Wonderful Life” when Curt first saw her. He was in the cast, playing Sam Wainwright. Their 2002 wedding was a skit, co-written by the bride and groom, with Laura’s real-life sons playing parts in a plot that made light of a shotgun wedding.
“She was a local girl,” said Curt, adding that his wife attended Cascade High School and Marysville Pilchuck. She was involved in drama years before joining the Outcast Players, the Historic Everett Theatre’s resident comedy troupe.
Along with her husband, Laura Shriner is survived by her children, Trevor Osburn, Cheryl Osburn-Calhoun and Christopher Osburn; her mother Helen Lilly and siblings Ron, Charles, Cathy and Iris Lilly; and by three grandchildren, Veronica, Robert and Arya.
A celebration of life is scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave. All who knew and loved Laura are welcome, her husband said.
“She lived for her grandkids, her kids and this theater,” said Curt, joking that “I came in a very close seventh.” She had recently been the child-care provider for her 18-month-old grandchild.
Randy Yamanaka, of Edmonds, has acted in three shows with Laura. “She put her heart and soul into it — every play, every practice, every rehearsal,” he said. “She was an extraordinary actor. She really lived for that theater.”
He recalled her generosity.
“I always came to rehearsals early because traffic was heavy. She and Curt often dined out before rehearsals. She made sure to text me what restaurant they were at, and she always saved me french fries,” Yamanaka said.
“She was amazing. Laura was always here,” said Curt’s daughter, Ali Shriner, 30, who stopped by the theater Monday. “If my dad wasn’t in the box office, Laura was.”
Ali and her fiancé, Lux Howard, are planning a wedding for Halloween 2020. They’re considering making their vows onstage, with a murder-mystery dinner to follow.
Craig Shriner has wanted to sell the theater and retire. Over the past couple years, Curt has sought partners to share ownership. So far, at least five investors are involved, he said. Along with their investment, partners are part of the nonprofit Historic Everett Theatre Preservation Society.
“Thanks to him,” said Curt, pointing to his brother Monday, “for awhile we’re going to carry on the legacy of the theater.”
“It was very important to her to keep it going,” Craig Shriner said. In 2018, Curt told The Herald that his brother was offering the group a $1.9 million purchase price.
Along with thespians, the theater hosts concerts, many featuring tribute bands, and other local and touring events.
Onstage in the darkened house Monday, Curt had placed framed pictures of his wife. One, her first photo in the theater, was taken in 1998. There was a picture of Curt and Laura, dressed up for the theater’s 1999 Owl Awards — she had won a supporting actress prize. A photo of the couple at the High Roller, a 550-foot observation wheel in Las Vegas, was taken the day before she died, Curt said.
The stage where she once played in “Varney the Vampire” will soon bear her name. At the celebration of life, it will be dedicated as the Laura L. Shriner Memorial Stage.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebration of life
A celebration of life in memory of Laura Shriner is scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave. The wife of theater manager Curt Shriner, she acted in plays and ran the box office for years. She died Thursday at age 56.