From Roller Rink to Coaster Theatre Playhouse
The Waves Roller Rink was built in the early 1920’s by Ray Walker and operated as a skating rink through the 1930’s during the war years and into the 1950’s. In its earliest years the skating rink was also used one day a week as a silent movie theatre with Miss Weeks accompanying on the piano. Folding chairs were placed on top of the rink for seating and adults paid 15 cents and children paid 10 cents.
In the mid-1960’s Richard and Margaret Atherton bought the Roller Rink building with the dream of turning it into a theatre. The transformation was a fulltime job with over 55 townspeople working on the project. Violinist Paul Bellum, then director of the Portland Chamber Orchestra, was the first to perform on the new stage. Tickets were $5 for a family, $2.50 for adults and 50 cents for anyone under 16. Classical guitarist John Carr and “tune strummer” Bill Steidel followed in Bellum’s footsteps. Paul Revere and the Raiders rented the theatre for $15 a night and raised the roof!
In 1968 Atherton, Stan Glarum, musical director of Lewis and Clark College, and Fred Kline, head of Portland State’s Art Department, were instrumental in starting Portland State University’s Haystack Program in Cannon Beach. PSU’s Summer Stock Company was a feature of the Haystack program at the theatre, and so began a long history of PSU Theatre Arts Department productions in Cannon Beach directed by Asher Wilson, Jack Featheringill, William Tate and Tom Hill. That first year of 1969 PSU players performed a play a week, rehearsing one in the morning, a second in the afternoon and performing the third in the evening, spending day and night at the theatre – even sleeping in the theatre’s loft.
In 1972, Maurie Clark, a Portland patron of the arts, purchased the building. Hiring Ray Watkins and Bill Campbell to design and remodel both the interior and exterior. Maurie Clark presented Cannon Beach with the Coaster Theatre Playhouse as we know it today.