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Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre will reopen

Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre is reopening after a sudden closure in August due to a budget shortfall.

The theater company will produce two big shows rather than four and will stage those shows at the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center rather than North Idaho College’s Schuler Performing Arts Center. The new venue has 400 seats versus the 1,100 seats at the NIC theater.

Those changes “really cut costs,” said Laura Little, a former executive director of the theater who agreed to take that job again. “I was happy to come back and make this work.”

The theater’s board voted this past summer to shut down the 46-year-old nonprofit – Idaho’s oldest performing arts organization – after the books showed a deficit nearing $150,000 due to sluggish ticket sales. Board leadership determined it would be “irresponsible” to do anything but shutter the operation. The board also severed ties with artistic director Roger Welch and executive director Michelle Mendez.

“I am thrilled to see the theater moving forward with fresh management, fresh ideas and heightened accountability,” said Joe Anderson, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre board president.

Little is joined by Jadd Davis, who will be the new artistic director.

Davis has been in Seattle for the last nine years working professionally as an actor and singer. The Post Falls High School graduate has appeared on most of the major stages in Seattle and performed in several touring productions. 

“He’ll do the work of two artistic directors,” Little said. “He’ll be such a good fit.”

Little has worked in various capacities at the nonprofit over the years, and plans to use some of her former practices to bring finances back in line.

“When I was there before we had a lot of checks and balances in place, and we are going to implement those again,” she said.

Leadership will also consider other cost-cutting possibilities. The theater, for example, pays to store equipment, sets and costumes. Little plans to ask community members if they have space the theater can use and will consider renting costumes.

“We want to be really smart about how to use the resources we already have,” she said.

The new annual budget for the theater will be about $480,000, which is about half the previous year’s budget.

“I think this will be a good thing,” Little said. “It would be a shame to see a theater go away that’s been around for a long time.”

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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.