The Auburn Avenue Theater is reopening to the public on Saturday, more than one year after shuttering its doors and canceling the 2020 season. Pacific NW favorite Michael Powers will help welcome audiences back as the theater’s first performance.
Powers has been playing guitar since the 70’s and developed an eclectic taste in music to reach a wider audience. “It’s hard to categorize my music, although it usually ends up in the Jazz record bins,” Powers states in the about section of his website. “If I had to put a label on it, I would call it contemporary instrumental music. It’s a sound rooted in the Jazz tradition that keeps pace stylistically with Pop, R&B, and Blues; with Blues being at the core of my inspiration.”
Saturday’s performance will feature music from his “Cinco de Michael” CD release, a nod to next Wednesday’s Cinco de Mayo. Buy Tickets Now (link)
Michael Powers: Sway (Quien Sera)
14 Miserable Months
Like so many, the March closure was thought to be a pause, not the ultimate cancellation of the entire season that it came to be. For Theater Manager Jim Kleinbeck the March 4, 2020 closure was “surreal [at first], and then it was a very sad time. As an extrovert, this has been hard for me not being able to present live entertainment.”
Matilda the Musical was set to open May 5, the very day after the theater’s closure. After being rescheduled twice the musical is now planned for March 2022, two years after it’s scheduled opening. The Auburn Players, some of whom were a part of Matilda the Musical, have kept in touch through social media. “It has been rough for theater folks,” Kleinbeck said. “We have tried some virtual stuff but it’s just not the same.”
A performer himself, Kleinbeck understands the withdrawal from not performing. He has been miserable not being on stage with his bandmates from The Fabulous Murphtones, as “it’s one of the main ways I can express myself,” Kleinbeck said.
Enjoy Each Moment
With music being the first thing canceled and the last thing to return, Powers empathizes with Kleinbeck. Though he was able to focus on writing and recording and do virtual performances, not being able to perform shifted his perspective. “I’ve always been an appreciative person, and humble and happy to be able to do what I’m doing. But I think it’s kind of outlined that… each and every time I get to perform, because of not getting to do it for so long, [is] even more precious to me at this point,” Powers said.
Powers was able to book and sell out, intimate venues as the state began to slowly reopen. Performing for the first time since the shutdown was “just really wonderful and touching,” said Powers. “I found myself taking pictures from the stage of the audience like, hey, wow, I wasn’t to remember this.”
Saturday’s show will be his first performance in a theater-style venue, with a larger audience. “I’m also honored to have my drummer, Ronnie Bishop play with me. I’ve mostly done solo shows during the pandemic. So, this is special,” Powers said.
Kleinbeck has an idea of what Powers is in for Saturday, “this last Saturday we got to perform to 150 people for the first time in forever and it was Electric! Wonderful! The best feeling in a long time!” Kleinbeck said.
Returning to the Auburn Avenue Theater
“It was [also] very exciting to get to book shows. I love my job and this is one of my favorite parts of it,” Kleinbeck said.
Of course, big audiences in King County may be short-lived. Teetering between Phase 3 and Phase 2, the Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County Patty Hayes warned the county should prepare to move back to Phase 2 in the coming week. This rollback would mean Powers would be the only performance at 50% capacity (125 people). Performances in Phase 2 would be at 25% (63 people).
To assist in social distancing and capacity all tickets are available presale and sales will cut off 24-hours in advance. This will allow staff to set up the theater for proper social distancing. Additionally, masks are to be worn at all times, hand sanitizer will be available, there will be no intermissions, and at this time there will be no concessions.
Michael Powers – Hotel California
New beginnings at the Auburn Avenue Theater are familiar to Powers, it’s where began his career as a full-time musician in 1985. Having booked a gig on a Seattle-based cruise ship, the production rehearsed at the theater. Now it’s his turn to help the theater begin again after being dormant for far too long.
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