(Last UPDATED 10/21/17) This past weekend I attended a reception and “virtual” tour of the new B Street Theatre currently under construction on Capitol Avenue and 27th Street in Midtown Sacramento.
Complementary wine and nibbles were served the invitees before we made our way into the existing Mainstage Theatre for the presentation on the new building.
New B Street Theatre Update
Buck Busfield welcomed the crowd, providing a bit of background as to the ups and downs from the beginning of his dream in 1984 to build a new theatre to the present.
To help make his dream reality the City of Sacramento agreed to provide a $3 million forgiveable loan in exchange for annual performances at two school districts in each council district, as well at two “at-large” schools, every year for 20 years. Bonds and private cash donations make up the majority of the funding.
Of course, none of this would have been possible absent the donation by Sutter Medical Center in 2005 of the land upon which the theatre is being built (valued at $6 million) as part of its nearby hospital expansion project. Former Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna was a key player in the Sutter Medical Center land donation.
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Busfield reminisced about the current theatre location – trains disrupting performances and the encounters with “nature” such as the time the actors took to the stage to find a snake sharing it with them. Rats were also mentioned. Buck made it clear that he and the staff/actors are not going to miss the current location.
The owners of the B Street property plan to sell it, but have provided assurances that B Street Theatre can continue to operate there until the new facility is ready. Our unusually rainy winter has put construction of the new building a bit behind schedule.
To add some fun to the presentation James, the architect of the new building, was sent out of the room. Two of the regular B Street actors and a B Street intern were brought onstage and certain words were chosen that, when uttered by James during his presentation, would require a specific response.
If James used the word “theatre” Tara (Sissom) was required to take a shot of Irish whiskey, the word “panel” would require B Street intern Alex (who is paid $200 a week) to make a $5 donation to the B Street Capital Construction Fund, and the word “window” would require Rick (Kleber) to remove a piece of clothing.
James knew something was up and it did not take him long to figure it out. It was amusing, however, to see him try to give his presentation without using those specific words. Tara ended up drinking at least seven shots, and Alex was out $20.00 before the presentation was finished. Rick lucked out and only had to remove two or three items of clothing – and he was well-dressed to start (including wearing a hat which was the first thing to go).
The new theatre complex is going to be fantastic! The building will have a modern industrial look, i.e. exposed wood and steel, and lots of windows for natural light. LED lighting will be used throughout.
The lobby will include a good-sized full bar. Currently B Street Theatre only serves beer and wine.
On the corner of the street there will be a restaurant with an outdoor patio. An adjacent courtyard will also be available for restaurant seating. Additionally, there will be rehearsal space and other spaces suitable for multiple uses.
There will be two stages – the Mainstage and the larger children’s theatre (Sutter Children’s Theatre) seating 365. Both stages will have state-of-the-art technology to enhance the experience for attendees.
It was obvious that a lot of thought had gone into the setup of the theatre complex – from where buses bringing youth to the Sutter Children’s Theatre will park, to the courtyard where teachers can safely “corral” their charges prior to entering the building. This larger theatre will host the B Street Family Series and B3 Series. It can also be used for concerts, speaking engagements, conferences, etc.
One of the things I have most enjoyed about B Street Theatre over my many years as a subscriber is the intimate nature of the theatre – and it appears that this will not change. The new Mainstage Theatre will seat 250, only 50 more than can now be accommodated. This is accomplished by adding an additional row of seats.
During the presentation there was also an opportunity for Q&A and a question was posed about parking. Buck indicated that they were in discussions relating to parking for subscribers in the Sutter Medical Center owned parking garage.
At the end of the presentation Buck made a pitch for the B Street Capital Construction Fund. Additional funding is still needed in order to fully realize the new buildings potential.
Construction has been hampered by the unusually heavy rain we have had this winter – so the new targeted opening date is now February 1, 2018.
Needless to say – I am greatly anticipating attending performances at the new B Street Theatre! What a great addition to the Sacramento arts and entertainment scene!
(UPDATED 3/16/2016) Additional information and more a recent picture of the building site was added.
(UPDATED 10/21/17) B Street Theatre was voted #1 in Sacramento Magazne’s 2017 Best of Sacramento survey in the category Live Theater.
B Street Theatre Named for Donor
(UPDATED 7/11/2017) In mid-June it was announced that the new B Street Theatre will be called the Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts. Sofia is the wife of Sacramento developer Angelo K. Tsakopoulos. The Tsakopoulos Family and the Sutter Health Community Benefit combined forces to cover the final $3 million needed to complete the project. To preserve the link to the B Street Theatre, theater productions will called B Street at the Sofia.
Comments on B Street Theatre?
If you were in attendance during one of the two building update presentations – is there anything you would add?
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