CAST OF CHARACTERS
My desire to open a movie theatre in Port Townsend would have come to a fruitless end if I had not had the good fortune to meet a cast of characters with the talent and desire to turn my dream into reality.
After trying to open a theatre in Port Townsend for five years, I received a call at home one evening from Phil Johnson. His exact words remain with me to this day: “Are you still trying to open your theatre? The old Rose is for sale. I used to go there as a kid, and I’d like to see it reopened.” It was a quintessential moment. If I had been a character in a cartoon strip, the bubble above my head would have contained the words, “I’ve found my angel.”
It was another two-and-a-half years before the Rose reopened, but the collaborative process and friendship that blossomed between Phil, his wonderfully intuitive wife Sandy, and myself, is a bond that has only grown stronger over the years. Without them, the Rose would never have reopened. In those early years Phil was still a building contractor, and it was his crew who brought this theatre back to life. His lead carpenter, Earl Kliemann, spent weeks on a scaffold restoring the tin ceiling. And Joe Calabrese, a local paint and wallpaper expert, also spent weeks on a scaffold in the cold, unheated auditorium carefully removing layers of paint from the murals we discovered.
To this day, I thank my lucky stars that I met Barbara Marseille. Barbara introduced herself to me as a semi-retired interior designer from Chicago. But her idea of semi-retirement ran the rest of us – years younger! – ragged. She was a force of nature with exquisite taste. I shudder to think what the beautiful Rose would look like without her creative input. Most of what you see when you enter this theatre – the colors, carpet, fabrics, wall paper, - and the aesthetic sensibility that ties it all together, is the work of Barbara. She was a gift, and I miss her dearly. She passed away in 2008 at the age of 76, but her work lives on in the Rose, and in homes and public buildings throughout Port Townsend.
The sudden possibility of a state grant for the restoration of the Rose building necessitated architectural drawings pronto. I called Chris Carson, an architect in Seattle who I’d only recently met, pleaded my case, and he agreed to see me in his office. While he set to work for a few hours, I wandered around Pioneer Square, and while rummaging through a second-hand store, I found an old black-and-white postcard of the Rose Theatre. I took this unexpected discovery as a good omen. Chris and his business partner Rick Hiner became the architects for the entire project, including the addition of the Rosebud Cinema in 1995. And Rick has remained involved as we prepare for the opening of the Starlight Room this summer.
Just as making a film is a collaborative undertaking, restoring the Rose with these key players was also a collaborative process. It was a great working partnership that contributed to making the Rose what it is today, and for years to come.