A Short History

The original Poulsbo Players began in the 1960s and was in operation only a few years. Early in the 1990s, Hester Bogues put together a new group under the old name, Poulsbo Players. Then in 1998, a new production board formed and eventually changed the name to Jewel Box Theatre, though Poulsbo Players is still the group's legal name. Jacquie Svidran, a now-retired member of our troupe and indefatigable fund-raiser, acted and worked with all three groups.

For many years we performed plays wherever we could beg or borrow space to set up: This included the NKHS Auditorium, Kiana Lodge, the Poulsbo Armory and Judith's Tearoom (now MorMor's). Then an angel in the form of management at Liberty Shores Assisted Living Center contacted us and offered the Rehab Room, empty at that time, for our exclusive use for one year. In that very large room we built a stage area, mounted lights on poles, and brought in risers seating an audience of 49. We now had a stage for rehearsals and performances for the first time.

In 2000, due to a generous benefactor and landlord, the Poulsbo Players were able to build the current theater space on Iverson Street, seating 100 patrons. The building was completely remodeled, creating a theater space to be proud of. To view photos of the transformation is to see a true Cinderella story unfold. They named it the Jewel Box Theatre, and in 2001, they produced a full slate of four plays. The founding directors included David Speck and Sondra Ashton. The Jewel Box produced five plays in 2002, and in 2003, its season grew to six plays—the length of its current season from September through August.   

For several years, the Jewel Box also scheduled four to six children’s plays each season. These included live productions, puppets, and a magician. Interest flagged, and in 2007 children’s performances were suspended.

The theater has worked in partnership with Cultural Arts Foundation NW, and now Front Street Gallery, to keep a fine art gallery in its lobby. In 2002, a series of lectures on the arts was presented. In 2003, an improvisational troupe was added to the schedule. The troupe, now called The Portable Reality Show, has grown from a few one-night performances each season to at least four two-night (weekend) performances. For several years, a free Poetry Reading Series was offered at the Jewel Box. In 2008, the theatre’s growing calendar of activities made it necessary for the poetry series to find another venue.

In January 2010, the Jewel Box began offering three new series of Second Stage performances, including: Poulsbo Live!, an amateur talent show series open to performers from the general public; a Play Reading series, providing added dramatic presentations without the time and expense of full-scale productions; and a Songwriters’ Conversations music series, bringing in talented composers to perform and discuss their creative processes. The Play Reading series continues to grow in popularity.

The recently concluded 2010-2011 season was one of the Jewel Box’s best yet. “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” was the theater’s best-selling, highest earning show ever, attracting 1,234 patrons. And “Greetings,” its holiday show, was its top-selling and highest earning nonmusical production ever, bringing in nearly 1,000 people.

As an all-volunteer organization, the Jewel Box is a community theater in the truest sense. It currently lists approximately 130 volunteers who conduct all of the business and creative functions necessary to stage high-quality performances. The theater is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, registered in the State of Washington, and its Board of Directors is comprised of community-minded individuals from businesses and organizations in Kitsap County.

by Sondra Ashton and updated by Gary McVey in July, 2011

The Jewel Box Theatre was awarded 2009 Best of West Sound Theatre honors by the Kitsap Sun for Best Theatre, and for Best Director, Non-Musical (Todd Erler, for Moonlight and Magnolias).

On Thursday, December 11, 2003, at the 13th annual Kitsap County Human Rights Conference, the Jewel Box Theatre was awarded the Kitsap County Council for Human Rights "Wall of Fame" award for 2003, for organizations, for our production of "The Laramie Project."

Jewel Box Theatre was voted a “Community Builder Award” for 2001-2002 by Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce for “providing a unique venue for the performing arts.”