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Local Theaters have New Homes for the New Year

This is the architect's rendering of The Sofia arts complex.

Two local theater companies — B Street Theatre and Celebration Arts — have new homes beginning in 2018. Meanwhile, another theater company — Runaway Stage Productions — has hit a snag with its planned new building in West Sacramento, and Davis Musical Theatre Company continues its tradition of previewing its January show (“Monty Python’s Spamalot”) at a New Year’s Eve Gala.

A Capitol Idea

B Street Theatre has left its namesake location (2711 B St.) for cushier digs in The Sofia, its new arts complex at 2700 Capitol Avenue. The Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts is the official title of the complex. Though it’s a move of only about a dozen blocks, it’s a major step up in size and stature.

It’s a 40,000 square-foot performing arts complex, housing two theaters with a total of 615 seats. There also will be a lobby bistro/cafe in the mixed-use project described by B Street’s Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director, Buck Busfield as “in a contemporary architectural style consistent with B Street’s philosophy of originality, creativity and community-building.”

The state-of-the-art facility fulfills a dream held by Busfield ever since he worked at Minneapolis Children’s Theatre when he was first starting out. As B Street Theatre grew and gained community support the dream became a reality.

“The works we’ve chosen for this season reflect where we’ve come from and where we’re heading,” said Busfield.

The first show in the new location will be “One Man, Two Guvnors,” a comedy adaptation by Richard Bean of the 18th century Italian comedy “Servant of Two Masters.” Tickets are on sale now for the show that opens on Jan. 30 and will run through March 4.

Celebrating Arts

Christmas was a very happy time for James Wheatley and his Celebration Arts theater company. Just before the holiday, Wheatley signed the lease on the B Street property that formerly housed B Street’s Children’s Theatre and where the company’s Family Series shows were presented.
“This is both a wonderful opportunity and a very great challenge,” Wheatley said of the move away from Celebration’s longtime home on D Street.
The company is moving from a 2,000-square-foot location to a 6,000-square-foot facility that will permit greater flexibility in productions, more room for its training programs (Celebration Arts offers classes and workshops in singing, dancing and acting, among other skills) and
increased seating capabilities. This is good news for the company who, back in September, had an uncertain future.
The company continues its Celebrating the Legacy fund drive which has a goal of $100,000 for renovations and the purchase of new lighting and sound equipment. Online contributions can be made a celebrationarts.net.
Wheatley said the first production in the new Celebration Arts theater will be “A Raisin in the Sun,” opening March 23.

Running Away Again

Runaway Stage Productions, the community theater home of the Broadway musical, has been in limbo since it lost its lease with the Sierra Two center in Curtis Park. A planned move to West Sacramento was underway, but, “Recently we ran into technical snags with the metal framed warehouse at 1540 S. River Road and new building codes,” Runaway’s Bob Baxter said.
Neither the theater company nor the site owner thought it was economically feasible to overcome the problem, and the city of West Sacramento “was not able to waive code or help with additional funding,” Baxter added.
Runaway Stage was able to negotiate out of its commitment to the site. Baxter commended the warehouse owner for flexibility and favorable financial actions and said the theater company still has funds to pursue a new location.
Runaway Stage will hold a reunion of all alumni of previous productions on Jan. 7. The event is not open to the public.
More information is available at reunion@runawaystage.com.

Davis Does It Again

Comfortably ensconced in its Pena Drive home, Davis Musical Theatre Company (DMTC) was perhaps the first local community theater companies to design and build its own theater. Continuing a tradition begun back when the company was presenting shows in the Veteran’s Memorial Theater in Davis, the company stages an evening of theater, food, music and dancing each New Year’s Eve.
This year, DMTC presents a buffet from ABC Grill of Elk Grove (appetizers, a London Broil Carving Station, grilled chicken breast, pastas, salads, and dessert) following a preview performance of its next production.
The New Year’s Eve Gala begins with a preview performance of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” at 8 p.m., followed by dining and dancing. Tickets are $50. For more information, go to dmtc.org.
Regular performances of the musical comedy take on the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, begin Jan. 5.
Image courtesy of B Street Theatre

About the author

Jim Carnes

Jim Carnes has masters degrees in English and journalism and is a former National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in popular culture at Stanford University. He has covered Sacramento arts and entertainment for more than 20 years. He currently writes about and reviews theater, dance, music and events in the Sacramento area.

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