Burglar steals actors' earnings during performance

by: Natasha Chen Updated:


SEATTLE - During a performance Saturday night at the West of Lenin Theatre in the Fremont neighborhood, a burglar broke into the building and ran away with hundreds of dollars in cash.

Billie Wildrick, the producer of Seattle Main Street Festival of New Musicals, said the staff had just had a barbecue earlier in the evening on the second floor deck of the building, facing the back alley.

“We left the cash box and a laptop just sitting right here on the table. Because this should be a secure area,” Wildrick said.

The door leading to the deck stairs was locked. But surveillance video showed the burglar scaling a wall to lift himself onto the stairs.

He is seen in the video even taking a sip of beer left on the table, then going into the building through an open door. He tried opening a few doors, and looking around. He came back to the outer deck, possibly when he heard noises from the performance downstairs.

“Then he saw the cash box, and he…flipped it open, took all the money out and all the checks and took off,” Wildrick said.

There was $600 in the cash box, which is about a third of what was going to be paid to rent the theater and to compensate the actors for travel expenses. Some of the money was Wildrick’s personal investment.

Wildrick said the festival was produced under what’s called the Equity Member Project Code, which means the production was done with the actors’ own money and time.

The host of Sunday’s performance told the audience, “We all know how difficult it can be to have a career in the arts. And having people come and see what you do and support what you do, makes it – gives you that much more strength to go back to the drawing board.”

The festival ends Monday night, and the 60 people who were going to take stipends will now get a little less.

Wildrick hopes the surveillance video will help the suspect get caught.

“This was a whole cast’s paycheck that he shoved in his pocket,” she said.