After a suspicious fire destroyed the Burien Annex auditorium Tuesday morning, members of the Burien Actors Theatre had four days to find a new place to perform "Coney Island Christmas."
Detectives ruled the fire an act of arson, shocking the acting group that regularly welcomes audiences into the space for their plays.
"The common anger reaction of, 'Oh my God, we're going to find this guy and beat him up,'” explained Chris McDowell. “Then almost immediately thereafter people were like, 'How do we move forward? Here's what we're going to do.'"
Like most plays, the real-life drama found a hero too.
"First I was really sad and I didn't know what to do," said 12-year-old Emily Dumaran. “It was horrible. Part of the stage was gone, walls knocked down.”
The only child cast member, Dumaran started making calls to theaters around Puget Sound.
Eventually, word spread to a Burien pop-up museum profiling the Great Depression called “Hope in Hard Times.”
“And goodness knows they’re having hard times,” said Cyndi Upthegrove with the Highline Historical Society. “They didn’t have a home and it just seemed like the right thing to do to offer them a place.”
Besides the physical space itself, almost every part of the performance was donated, including the curtains, speakers, high-rises, and chairs.
"Everybody thought it was the end of the theater, but no, we kept going," Dumaran said.
The damage at the Burien Annex is estimated at about $150,000. Though it’s owned by the city, the Burien Actors Theatre still can’t access their lights or other important equipment used during the production.
Though detectives haven’t found a suspect, the Burien Actors Theatre has found something equally important for them.
"Coming together, keeping our spirits high, and pursuing that theater adage that the show must go on," McDowell said.
Anyone with information about the arson is asked to call 1-800-55-ARSON.
For more information about the Burien Actors Theatre visit http://www.burienlittletheatre.org/