Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Lake City Playhouse puts on ‘Matilda the Musical,’ its first production since flood damaged theater

As Lake City Playhouse was gearing up to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coeur d’Alene theater was hit with a devastating flood. Two years later, the local theater community is raising money to save the iconic performance space while putting on a musical.

“Since the flood, it’s been really devastating because we have this iconic piece of property , this iconic theater here in Coeur d’Alene. And we can’t use our space,” said Lake City Playhouse board member Jessica Peterson.

The building began life as a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but was converted into a theater in the 1960s and has remained a performance space since that time.

Peterson said the Lake City Playhouse has been the sole brick and mortar community theater in the area, where the company did not have to rent out a space for their performances.

Though the Playhouse itself is still closed, the team behind the company opened its first show since 2020 this weekend at another venue. That production of “Matilda the Musical” is the same one that was in rehearsal when the pandemic hit.

Telling the story of a precocious 6-year-old who may have magical powers, many of the children cast in that 2020 production aged out by the time it got on stage last week.

“It was so hard to explain to them when they’re a kid. Because the chances of you staying the right size and so on are very, very slim. So it was very sad,” said Brooke Wood, “Matilda” director and Playhouse board president.

After shutting down rehearsals in 2020, the Playhouse had hoped to keep the same cast for its 2021 reopening. And then there was the flood.

“That was harder than the COVID situation for us because the kids were so excited to finally get to do the show,” Wood said, noting she did not think “Matilda” would ever open after the flood.

“I’ve been a little bit emotional today, actually, because it’s our first show in almost four years,” she said in the hours before opening night. “We didn’t even think we’d be doing shows again at one point, you know? So I am feeling very, very emotional. In a good way.”

Some of the children cast in the original production have been recast as the older ensemble members.

Because of rising construction costs amid inflation, the theater’s insurance did not come close to covering the cost of repairs, which were estimated at between $125,000 and $150,000.

At the time, Wood and the board believed that amount was insurmountable to raise. But the community in Coeur d’Alene had other ideas.

“The sea just changed. People just wanted to help. They said ‘How do we help? What do we need to do?’ That lit up a big fire under all of us because people were actually behind us,” Wood said. “So that felt amazing. And that was when doing ‘Matilda’ felt possible again.”

The donations included a $25,000 check from Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty, and Bill’s Heating and Cooling donated and installed a new heating unit. If high sales of “Matilda” continue, Wood expects to have raised close to $80,000 by the end of the play’s run at the Kroc Center. The Playhouse will need approximately another $50,000 to complete renovations, though they may have raised enough to begin repairing the theater’s broken plumbing – the most pressing issue before they can begin performing in their own space again.

“There’s no running water in the theater. And all the bathrooms have been completely stripped. So that would be our focus,” Peterson said of the repair plan. The board hopes to reopen the theater by May 2024.

“It’s been really disheartening for a while because it felt like the Playhouse was really forgotten about, but now that we’re back, we’re really making an effort to save the theater. I have so much hope for the space, and I have a newfound love for and dedication and devotion to this place,” Peterson said.

After trying to put on the production for four years, Wood thinks the story of “Matilda,” based on the Roald Dahl classic, is the perfect metaphor for the struggles the theater has faced in recent years.

“I did not realize until we started trying to redo it for the second time, but the idea of ‘Matilda’ is, if you just hang on, and you’ll fight the good fight, that good things will happen,” Wood said. “Matilda is a strong, independent person who sticks up for herself and believes in the good in the world. And I think we’ve seen that good at the Lake City Playhouse.”

The final four performances of “Matilda the Musical” take place this weekend at the Kroc Center Oct . 26-29. Tickets can be purchased at

Those interested in the theater’s fundraising efforts can also purchase a brick of the theater and have their name engraved onto it. Ranging from $250 to $1,000 a brick, they can be purchased at