NORTH BEND — Not much is certain except for taxes, death and deterioration.

For the Little Theatre on the Bay, it has seen better days.

Since it was built in 1924, the theater has been a beacon in the community of North Bend, bringing families together through the art of theater, but without any major upgrades, the theater is falling apart.

Although the theater is in dire straits, its board members are doing everything they can to keep the curtains open.

"The structural integrity is fine, it's just the things around it," said theater president Julianna Seldon. "It just needs a little TLC."

Seldon said there has been work done over the years to help the theater get by, but to keep it alive and thriving, it's time to get serious about the building's future.

The only question is: Renovate or rebuild?

"Because we have an older building we need to look into either building a new building or are we going to find someone who can refit this one," Seldon said.

Seldon said several years back, the board had looked into completely renovating the theater but it would have cost about $11 million for the makeover.

Seldon said after recently doing more research in renovating the building, the original cost was inflated, and would be a lot less expensive because of the work over the years that has been done to it. She said the board is in the process of determining a new cost.

"If we were to tear this building down and rebuild a new building, it would be $4 to $5 million," Seldon said. "We're looking right now to get grant writers, maybe a professional fundraiser and going through that process."

The North Bend Urban Renewal Agency has recently dedicated $500,000 to the theater.

Although the theater is desperately needing a makeover, it hasn't stopped producing plays.

The theater usually puts on about six plays a year and hosts the popular Little Ole' Opry in the summer, which is a main factor in allowing the theater to keep going.

Shirley Kintner, a theater board member and director of the opry, said theaters in general are extremely important because they bring a community together.

"It is community theater," Kintner said. "Everybody can have a role here."

Kintner said the plays and the opry provide wholesome entertainment for all ages and gives those in the community the opportunity to get involved with something that is local.

Seldon said the board is in the first phase in addressing the issue, and there are hopes to set up a five-year plan.

Kintner recently represented the theater at a URA meeting, and she was able to get URA board members to dedicate up to $25,000 for a new reader board. The total cost for the reader board is about $50,000.

"I think (the reader board) will launch us in being able to have that communication going with public because people do ask, 'What's happening here? Why aren't you doing this?' so it really will be, I think, what will keep us connected," Kintner said.

Seldon said the board is also focusing on production and it is about to finish up making the schedule for this year. The theater will put on "Cinderella" this April.

For Seldon, the main goal is just to keep the theater going.

"We've been working really hard, especially with Shirley and what she's done, getting it out to the community that hey, we're here," Seldon said. "It's a fantastic event to take your whole family to."

Reporter Kurtis Hair can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or by email at kurtis.hair@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter: @KurtisHair.

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