Capital Playhouse set to auction off assets

Organization outlines financial challenges in email to patrons

Staff writerMarch 10, 2014 

Capital Playhouse.

STEVE BLOOM; STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

This summer is scheduled to be the 28th season of Kids at Play, a summer youth theater and musical program operated by downtown Olympia’s Capital Playhouse.

But whether Kids at Play and Capital Playhouse even make it that far is in doubt after the organization notified its customers by email late last month about some of its ongoing financial challenges.

Those challenges include unpaid rent and back taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service, the email explained.

The email also stated that the “Board of Directors has reached an agreement with our landlord to move out of the space by March 10, if all the necessary arrangements can be completed by then.”

That didn’t happen on Monday, said board president Marcia Tunheim, who was at Capital Playhouse on Monday and who has served on the board since January 2010.

Capital Playhouse instead is set to embark on an online auction of its assets and equipment in the next week or two so that the organization can repay the IRS, its landlord and other creditors, she said.

The auction is set to be conducted by Ehli Auctions of Tacoma, a representative of that company confirmed Monday.

Capital Playhouse racked up $220,000 in IRS debt between 2005-2010 after federal taxes withheld from employee paychecks were never sent to the IRS, Tunheim said.

The IRS later agreed to a settlement, reducing the debt to about $64,500, of which another $10,100 has been paid, leaving about $52,400, according to the email sent last month.

Details of the online auction are being finalized, she said, but once it’s in place, the organization plans to notify its customers and other theater groups about it.

Tunheim added that the organization doesn’t have any employees and is not looking for another location. 

“The future is uncertain,” she said.

The board also decided last year to cancel its 2013-2014 Season in a Box schedule of musicals.

Asked if she thought the community might rally to support Capital Playhouse, Tunheim said, “We have not seen a lot of community interest.”

Asked if it was going to close for good, she said, “That’s definitely a possibility.”

Capital Playhouse felt the effects of the slower economy and a lack of sponsorships, but also had to weather several controversies.

In 2012, interim artistic director Troy Fisher left after he was arrested and charged with 14 counts of child pornography. 

His charges were dismissed after a judge ruled that police improperly obtained evidence.

Also in 2012, former playhouse employee Joseph Sartori was convicted of felony voyeurism for secretly filming an actress while she undressed.

In 2011, Capital Playhouse founder and longtime artistic director, Jeff Kingsbury, parted ways with the group after having been on requested paid leave.

“This is a sad and difficult time for so many people in the South Sound community whose lives have been enriched by the programs and performances at Capital Playhouse,” the board of directors said in its email.

Rolf Boone rboone@theolympian.com 360-754-5403

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