The History

When American politicians outlawed the consumption of alcohol in the 1920’s, there were many people who fought back: bootleggers, rumrunners, and speakeasy hosts. In Seattle, the illicit alcohol trade was dominated by Roy Olmstead and his crew, the most polite and well-meaning gentleman-criminals in the whole country. At one point becoming the city’s largest employer, Roy refused to let his men carry guns, traffic in drugs or women, or run gambling dens, making him one of Seattle’s most popular entrepreneurs. He was busted repeatedly, but nothing stuck until 1924 when he was arrested and tried on wire-tapping evidence–the first such evidentiary hearing in the country, possibly even the world.

But while we know Roy’s history quite well, due to the sensational and national nature of his trial, this play follows his second-wife, Elise (Elsie) Olmstead, British national, rumored WWI intelligence agent, founder of Seattle’s then-largest radio channel, now KOMO News, and a mysterious figure generally referenced only in passing. Which is just the way she wanted.

Elsie Olmstead aka Elise Caroline Campbell aka Parche aka Vivian Grubb aka Vivien Potter aka Aunt Vivien

Roy Olmstead

Other Players

If you find this history as fascinating as I did, there are a lot of wonderful sources to check out, listed on the sources page. The information here is kept purposefully vague as there are lots of wonderful and surprising details that appear in the play and we don’t like spoilers!

Writing at the top of Smith Tower while enjoying an entirely legal drink.
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