Arts and Entertainment

Renton Civic's 25th Anniversary season continues Friday with The Foreigner

Managing Artistic Director Bill Huls works to adjust the lights on the set of
Managing Artistic Director Bill Huls works to adjust the lights on the set of 'The Foreigner,' Opening Feb. 15 at Renton Civic Theatre.
— image credit: Brian Beckley/The Courier-Herald

Renton Civic Theatre's 25th Anniversary rolls on this week with the opening of "The Foreigner," part of a season's worth of shows selected by season-ticket holders.

"This year is all shows we've done before," said Managing Artistic Director Bill Huls, adding that the one exception is "The Diary of Anne Frank," set for April.

Huls called "The Foreigner" a classic "doorslamming comedy" about a man pretending he can't speak English while at a fishing retreat in Georgia. In between he helps teach someone else the language and even has a run-in with the Ku Klux Klan.

"It's hard to explain the show but it's a lot of fun," he said.

The show is also a homecoming of sorts for director Alan Wilkie. Not only is Wilkie from Renton, he starred as one of the two leads the first time the theater put on the show.

Huls has been with the theater for 17 years and has been the artistic director for the past six. He called Renton Civic a "family friendly theater" that does a lot of classic plays, with a few new ones thrown in here and there, usual in the April slot.

This year, for the silver anniversary, the season opened with "Grease" and will end in June with "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," which were the two top picks from season ticket holders.

The Renton Civic Theater was built as a movie house in 1924. It showed movies until the theater group bought it in 1987.

Huls said there's a magic in the old, art deco theater that one can feel as soon as they enter the lobby.

"It's got an aura about it," he said. "When you walk in the door, you can forget about what's going on out there."

Renton Civic Theatre operates as a 4(c)3 non-profit organization. This year, as part of the 25th Anniversary celebration, the theater is hosting a dinner and auction to help raise money. According to Auction Chair Diana Kain, it's the first time the theater has hosted an auction since 1998.

This year's event is scheduled for March 9.

Actors from prior shows will be on hand to entertain and there are several top-level auction items to grab attention, including a five-night ski package in Sun River, Ore., a Torker three-wheeled bicycle and an autographed copy of Michael Jackson's classic album "Thriller."

And if the King of Pop is not your style, there's even a framed photograph of the original Star Trek crew, signed by every member of the cast.

"It's a fun night to come out and support the theater," Kain said.

All money from the auction goes toward the Summer Teen Musical, as well helping ensure that the silver anniversary season is not Renton Civic's last.

"We intend to be here for another 25," Kain said.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.rentoncivictheatre.org.

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