Co-founder of Driftwood Players dies at 93

Earl Prebezac also briefly owned movie theater on Main Street
By Brian Soergel | Feb 22, 2018
Courtesy of: Michael Prebezac Earl Prebezac, left, performing in an early Driftwood Players production.

Earl Prebezac, who co-founded the Driftwood Players theater group in Edmonds 60 years ago and served as its first president, died Feb. 9 at age 93.

It was in 1957 that Prebezac and a few other like-minded residents decided it was about time for a professional theater group in Edmonds. The Driftwood Players were formally organized on April 11, 1958, and, for its first decade, produced shows at the Legion Hall – the old post office on Main Street – and in Firdale Village.

Prebezac directed the group’s first production, “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Driftwood Players moved into its permanent home at 950 Main St. in 1968 and called it the Driftwood Theatre. It was designed by theater members Wade James and Chet Bennett, along with contractor Paul Roy, and funded by volunteers and the city of Edmonds.

The theater was renamed the Wade James Theatre in the 1970s in honor of James.

“Wade was Dad’s best friend,” said Michael Prebezac, Earl Prebezac’s son and Edmonds resident. “After Wade died, they had a memorial for him at the theater and changed the name from Driftwood Theater to the Wade James Theater.”

The stage wasn’t Prebezac’s only passion. Together with wife Nann, as well as Wade James and his wife Jan, he purchased and ran the Edgemont Theater on Main Street for three years, beginning in 1974. It was formerly known as the Princess Theater, and today is known by its original name, the Edmonds Theater.

Michael Prebezac said his father was active on stage – both on it and in the director’s chair – through the late 1980s, even as he continued his 35-year career as a teacher at Roosevelt High School in Seattle.

“He had a big stage presence,” Michael Prebezac said. “In most of his plays, he had starring roles. He could pretty much play anything.”

Prebezac also had small roles on the big screen, including in “Parallax View” starring Warren Beatty. He also starred in a 2004 indie movie called “Buffalo Bill’s Defunct,” which premiered at the Seattle Film Festival.

“He was a great guy,” said Kent Kildow, 79. Kildow was a stage and set designer at Driftwood. “And I could see that he was a good actor.”

Contributions may be sent to VFW Post 8870, P.O. Box 701, Edmonds, WA 98020, or online to vfw8870.org/contribute.

A founder’s list

According to the Driftwood Players’ Joanne Branch, the founding members of the Edmonds theater group includes the following people:

Earl and Nann Prebezac; Jim and Jackie Glasgow; Jan James (whose husband was the architect Wade James); Frances Brown; Bea Sorensen; Henry and Helen Winter; George and Lea Clark; Jean Husak; and Ron Bertea.

Another list from 1958 includes the above names and the following:

Jeanne Lindelof; Maisie Adams; Fred and Pat Hawney; Bonnie Smith; Ruth Johnson; Michael Osker; James Fisher; Ken Hockeyt; Esther Matheson; Ed Husk; and Sally Kniest.

“The story goes that Nann and Jan were complaining that they had to travel so far to Everett for rehearsals (no I-5 then!) that Earl finally asked why they didn't form their own group,” Branch said. “So they did!”

 

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