Is Salem growing up? The start-up of the new Salem Repertory Theatre is a very encouraging indication that the state's capital is expanding its artistic horizons.

Below is from THE STATESMAN JOURNAL, February 26, 2004

Help raise the curtain for theater company

A thriving Salem Repertory Theatre could help revitalize downtown.

Even for a state said to love dreamers, the fledgling Salem Repertory Theatre dreams on an audacious scale:

That Salem someday can boast a professional theater company to rival those in Ashland and Portland.

That the former Wells Fargo building downtown can be renovated into a little theater that bustles from morning to night with classes, rehearsals and plays.

Those achievements may require years, plus many dollars yet to be raised. But residents can be present at the creation today through Saturday, when the company makes its debut with “All in the Timing” at the Historic Elsinore Theatre.

Like other SRT productions planned for this season, “All in the Timing” uses a small cast and limited sets. Rehearsals took place in borrowed space at Willamette University. Players collect a small stipend, not the salary that professionals should command.

But a couple of years’ worth of modest productions, fund-raisers and outreach efforts will lead to much bigger things.

Stretch your imagination with the company’s founders, and you will see a city where visitors find excellent entertainment within walking distance of Salem’s new conference center and hotel.

Where locals needn’t battle Portland traffic to enjoy an evening of fine theater.

Where a long-vacant building becomes a thriving workplace for actors, set builders and theater staff members. Where galleries, coffee shops and restaurants prosper in a vibrant downtown.

That kind of outlook is fitting for Oregon’s capital, the state’s second-largest city. It is an antidote for the defeatism that so often colors talk of Salem’s prospects.

So let’s give this company an enthusiastic welcome. Whatever you have planned for this weekend — getting the car washed, starting on taxes, seeing a movie with friends — make time for one more thing.

Be there for Salem Repertory Theatre’s first step. Help the company move on to its second step. Applaud a bold dream that, with your help, will come true.

And let me add my hearty applause for SRT and for The Statesman Journal which has been helping spread the word. Randy Bowser