A lot of bigger cities don't have anything as nice as what's opening this month on a hilltop above downtown Bothell. It's the new $5 million...

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A lot of bigger cities don’t have anything as nice as what’s opening this month on a hilltop above downtown Bothell.

It’s the new $5 million Northshore Performing Arts Center, finished three months ahead of schedule and getting ready for its first event Nov. 19.

That will be an all-day jazz festival, attracting about 1,000 students from more than 30 high schools, and it will be the test for the facility.

“We’re excited,” said Doug Wilson, fiscal director for the Northshore School District, which will operate the center on the grounds of Bothell High School, 18125 92nd Ave. N.E.

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“We’re proud of it. We can’t wait to get our community in here,” said Sara Land, district facilities-use specialist, as she and Wilson showed off the center Wednesday.

What they described as they walked through the building is something that marks the culmination of years of work and hopes, and now is almost ready — almost.

“This place looks done, doesn’t it?” said Wilson. “Well, it isn’t. Everybody’s anxious. That’s part of our frustration. All the technical systems aren’t done.

“Can we heat it? Can we cool it? Can we control the lighting?” he asked, all questions to be answered the next two weeks.

What exists now is still something vastly removed from the usual high-school stage often tacked onto the end of a gym.

In fact, the Northshore Center, with 600 seats, is one of the biggest venues of its kind in the Seattle area.

The Kirkland Performance Center has 402 seats. The Meydenbauer Center’s Performing Arts Center theater in Bellevue has 410 seats.

Numbers, however, don’t describe what went into creating the center, particularly the work of the Northshore Performing Arts Center Foundation, which set out more than 10 years ago to make it a reality. It got together with the Northshore School District, and the two agreed in 2003 to jointly build and share the facility.

The results show in countless details, from a modern sound system to what’s visible just by walking into the lobby — wood.

It’s everywhere, in wall paneling, handrails, trim boards installed along the staircases — nothing like the institutional metal fixtures commonly found in public buildings.

Then the doors open, and the full sweep of the theater comes into view, with the seats rising from an orchestra pit at the stage to a control room and recording studio at the back.

Among the most excited tenants are two local theater companies, the Woodinville Repertory Theatre and the Bothell-based Attic Theatre Company.

“The idea is to have a really good balance and have this so that it’s used constantly,” said Land, describing the mix between school and community functions. “We like the idea of the Attic Theatre and Woodinville Rep, because they’re both from this community.”

The Attic is the larger of the two, founded in 2003 by Jane Reinhardt and her husband, Mark. The name came from her childhood home in the Chicago suburbs, said Jane Reinhardt, recalling how she loved the attic in that home.

“It was a place of safety, dreams, inspiration,” she said.

At about the same time she was forming her theater group, Reinhardt learned about the Northshore Performing Arts Center plans.

“That has been our dream” said Reinhardt, “to move into the Northshore Performing Arts Center.”

“I’m ecstatic,” she added. “It is a privilege and an honor to be considered for a resident theater company there. I get goose bumps thinking about it.”

Until the Attic troupe moves in permanently, probably early next year, theater-goers can see their performances in several locations, with their latest production opening Friday at the Cadle Theater at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland.

The performance will be “The Screwtape Letters,” an English satire featuring Screwtape, a senior devil, instructing lesser devils on such skills as deception, suggestion and temptation.

The Cadle Theater is at 12033 N.E. 80th St., Kirkland, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Later performances are scheduled in other Eastside locations.

Information about the Attic is available on the Internet at www.theattictheatre.org or by calling 425-985-8608. Information about the Northshore Performing Arts Center is available online at www.npacf.org.

The center’s calendar is expected to gradually fill with school and other events. The Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra and the Olympic Ballet both have booked spring dates.

Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or pwhitely@seattletimes.com