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The Hideout looks, walks, and talks like a bar. It is, in fact, a bar. But proprietor Greg Lundgren bristles if you say it's just a bar. And he's right. It's a lot more. And not more-as-marketing-strategy, but, really, more.

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How? Well, first of all, it collects drawings and publishes them regularly. It sells art from a little vending machine (and not one of those nationally traveling vending machines, but a locally stocked one). Its walls are covered in art by local artists. Really covered. And not necessarily art that sells easily.

One of the major unsung ways it's more than a bar is the narratives you get from the Hideout if you're on Lundgren's email list. They're pieces of writing. Worth reading—even though they're about nothing more than the next show coming up, or what's going down there on Halloween night, or a New Year's Eve wish. I like this about the Hideout. It's a writer's bar.

And it was supposed to close five years after it opened. To the day. Regardless of how business was going. It was supposed to be a five-year performance art installation.

A part of me is disappointed that's not happening, but a bigger part of me was glad to see this (well-written, again) announcement come into my inbox this morning:

Dear Friends,

Some of you may recall that The Hideout was created as a 5-year performance piece. We viewed the bar as a stage and the participants - both patrons and staff alike - as actors on this stage. In the world of theater, five years is an unusually long run, and there were many reasons why The Hideout could have fallen short of our expectations.

While five years is a long time for a play to run, it is not entirely unheard of. In fact, many acts of theatre (particularly musical theatre) just run and run and run. It is fair to assume that the producers of Cats did not premeditate an 18 year run, or that Rent would be on Broadway for 12. Phantom of the Opera leads the pack with 22 years onstage and Les Miserables couldn't have been too miserable with 6,680 performances clocked in. Granted, The Hideout did not produce an award winning soundtrack or take home a Tony, but it does hold something in common with these productions - no one could think of a decent reason to stop them. Plays are extended because the cast, the audience and the producers are all having a really good time. And why stop a good time.

Five years ago Jeff Scott and Greg Lundgren turned on a neon cocktail sign, opened the doors to The Hideout and braced themselves for the unknown. They had never owned or worked in a bar, and even their history with theatre was dicey at best (Mr. Lundgren took home the worst play of the year in 2003 for I Am An Artist and Mr. Scott's independent feature film Rewind failed to sway the festival circuit). Five years sounded like an eternity at the time.

Over the course of the last five years we have witnessed amazing things. Some of our original cast are still with us and some have moved on to other successful productions (Tara now in the lead role at Grey and Chuck recently left to pursue his dreams in the Big Apple). More than a handful of our regular cast moved on to the big theatre in the sky, and some just settled down, had kids and retired from the stage entirely. So as we contemplated our extended run, we realized we were short a few characters, that we needed a casting call, to throw a big net, to fortify the cast with freaks and villains and beauty queens. If The Hideout was to carry on with any continued measure of success, we needed to solicit some of the most talented, entertaining, colorful and interesting characters we could find - actors of the most honed skills and discreet intention. And we found them.

For the better part of this year we scouted Los Angeles green rooms and Atlantic City card rooms. We posted fliers all over Las Vegas and spent a week in Saratoga Springs. Our list was long and the requirements were strict. We needed a new creepy lawyer. We needed washed up old men with unbelievable stories. There were emotionally unstable but incredibly sexy soccer moms to track down - first year art students, jazz musicians and butchers and deep sea divers. We found a snake wrestler in Dallas and a magician from Mexico City. Some of them are professionals, others, I don't think, have ever acted before. But it is a circus - a parade of amazing, talented people, an army of artists and writers and drag queens and inventors. And for the next five years, they will be amongst you - chatting, drinking, dancing, asking questions and telling secrets. They are here for you. It is costing us a fortune. So engage, ask questions, play along - order a drink, sit back and watch the performance unfold. It really makes television look dreadfully boring. You won't like all of them, but some you will fall in love with. A few look intimidating and unapproachable, but don't be shy. They will enter and exit with the subtlest of cues and even our staff is not entirely sure who is on the payroll. This is our idea of theatre and we expect this extended run to be a really, really good time.

To celebrate these first five years and the dawn of a new chapter, we will be throwing one hell of an anniversary party this Saturday night (April 17th). Come down and meet some of the new cast, share stories with some of the original crew, have a good time, play, and know that this is a stage where you are free to experiment, explore and take chances. We don't know how long this performance will last - it's a very uncertain world, but for the time being, we will produce shows seven days a week, with the house opening at 4:00 pm Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6:00 pm.

In preparation for the extended run, The Hideout will be closed for rehearsals and set changes Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (yes, that is yesterday, today and tomorrow), opening again on Wednesday. Please join us this Saturday to celebrate five years of quality entertainment, and the dawning of a new chapter in The Hideout's history.

Thank you for your continued patronage and support.

Support The Stranger

Sincerely,
The Hideout

The show will go on.