Book-It Theatre raises $126,000 and Brooks running shoes hosts an event for the Detlef Schrempf Foundation.
Over some 25 years, there have been naked cowgirls tossing their underwear into the audience, Lady Chatterley doing her thing, a dog named Enzo and a confederacy of dunces. If you’ve read it, Book-It Theatre has probably put it onstage.
Jane Jones and Myra Platt have been there all along, both behind the scenes and in them, keeping Book-It alive and relevant and in the black.
On Saturday night, the co-artistic directors were honored at a gala at the Showbox in the Market, where revelers were treated to performances from Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s “Long Walk to Forever” and Eudora Welty’s “Why I Live at the P.O.”
Jones and Platt have been collaborating since 1988, when they started Book-It in a 50-seat black-box theater. (They’re looking for a permanent home, by the way).
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They’re funny, they’re close, they love what they do.
“We feel blessed,” Platt said, especially when they get to put on the work of local authors like Jim Lynch, Garth Stein and Tom Robbins.
Board President Stuart Frankrecalled being invited to see “Plainsong” in 2006. “It was so unlike any theatrical interpretation I’d ever seen,” he said. “No one replicates the experience of reading a book like Book-It.”
(He was hoping to raise $120,000; the event raised $126,000. Whew.)
In the crowd: Cassandra Tateand Glenn Drosendahl,Conrad Wouters, Stellman Keehneland Patricia Britton.
Eddie Westerman (her son has been interning at Book-It “forever”) lamented the recent news that Roosevelt High School theater director Ruben Van Kempen was retiring after 33 years.
No surprise, then, that Van Kempen is up for an inaugural Excellence in Theatre Education Award, to be presented by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University.
Former ArtsFund head Jim Tunehas long admired Book-It as an organization (“They do what they say they’re gonna do”), but also loves what he sees onstage. He’s been to almost every production over the last 19 years.
His favorite? “The Cider House Rules.”
“I’m not fond of Jane Austen,” Tune confessed, of some of Book-It’s best-loved productions. “I know that’s blasphemous.”
Indeed, one of the hottest items at the live auction was the chance to have Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” swoon-worthy suitor Mr. Darcy (played by Richard Nguyen Sloniker) record your voice-mail message.
He walked onstage looking every bit the landed gentry of the British Regency — puffy shirt, waistcoat, stiff smile — and offered a sample:
“Thank you for calling, but unfortunately Myra and Jane are not at present,” he intoned in a clipped accent. “Please leave a brief message, and they will return your call with much alacrity. I hope this message finds you tolerable. Have a lovely day.”
They sold two, for $1,000 each.
Running down a dream
You’ll forgive me if the first thing I wanted to ask Detlef Shrempfwasn’t about his ownership of this weekend’s St. Patty’s Day Dash — for which you should register right now. I just wanted to know his shoe size.
We were, after all, standing in the new Brooks Running headquarters, where all sales from the gathering held there last Wednesday went to The Detlef Schrempf Foundation. The UW and Sonics legend started the nonprofit with his wife, Mari, 22 years ago; they’ve raised $15 million for local charities.
The event was also a chance for Brooks CEO Jim Weberto show off the company’s new location at the base of Stone Way in Fremont — which he chose after looking at four others and taking a six-mile run around Lake Union.
“I ran on Sunday and made the decision on Monday,” Weber told me.
Sellen Construction President Scott Redman, whose company made the tenant improvements on Brooks’ “deep green” building, has plenty of cranes in the city. He just wouldn’t say how many.
Schrempf tried to bail him out: “Between 17 and 94,” he cracked.
Said Redman: “Everybody in our business is busy right now.”
We all could see that through the three walls of tall windows of the employee cafeteria where the event was held, and where Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas confessed that her husband would run only in Brooks shoes.
The company turned 100 years old last year, and sales have grown 15 percent each year for the past 13 years.
“We are excited to be part of people investing in themselves,” Weber said.
Brian and Andrea Morrison, owners of Fleet Feet Sports on Capitol Hill, came to raise a glass and look around. Business is great and spring is coming, they said.
But their big smile came when Brian defeated U.S. Olympic track star Nick Symmonds — at skeeball.
“Just say that I beat Nick Symmonds,” Morrison told me.
And Det’s shoe size? 14. So quit asking.