The Designers of ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’

Amy Kelly
Samantha Reno (Set Designer) and Paulette Sand-Gilbert (Costume Designer) are both longtime employees at the B Street Theatre, dealing with all of the faults of the old 2711 B Street location while still crafting beautiful designs to heighten the quality of our productions. Now, as they work on the first show in the Sofia, Sam and Paulette took a second to reflect on the tremendous change B Street has gone through and their hopes for the future. 
How long have you been a designer for the B Street Theatre?
SAM: Going on six years! Seven years, if you count my internship many, many moons ago.
PAULETTE: Approximately 8 years. My first show was Becky’s New Car which opened in March of 2010.
What have been some of your favorite plays to design over the years?
SAM: To name a few: The Price, Satchmo at the Waldorf, The Three Musketeers, Robin Hood, Bloomsday, Bars & Measures, Anansi the Spider, Echo Location, and Frankenstein. 
PAULETTE: On the Mainstage – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Explorers’ Club, A Christmas Carol, Five Lesbians Eating Quiche, Aliens with Extra Ordinary Skills, Outside Mullingar, Hound of the Baskervilles. In the B3 Series – The Christians, Love and Baseball, Realistic Joneses. In the Family Series: Frankenstein, Alice In Wonderland, The Flying Machine, Snow White and Rose Red, Through the Eyes of Anne Frank 
Amy Kelly
When did you begin working in the Sofia for One Man, Two Guvnors? What has it been like to design in this brand new theatre versus designing in the old 2711 B Street location? 

SAM: I began working on One Man, Two Guvnors in November 2017. When I started, the construction crew hadn’t even installed the stage yet, so I was designing only off the drawings I could get from the architect. I tried to make the design as flexible as possible in case there were unforeseen characteristics of the new stage that were not in the working drawings. Designing for a space that I had neither seen nor walked into was quite the learning experience, whereas with the 2711 B Street location I knew every quirk, corner, and cranny. But the new design process proved to be very freeing in many ways with the new and improved backstage area, fly system, and trap room below the stage– much of what I design can look more fleshed out than they could in the old space with the low grid.

PAULETTE: I’ve been in our amazing Wardrobe Room for a little over a week and we are still in the process of making it a fully functioning space for both costume construction and maintenance. The convenience of being in the same building as rehearsals is phenomenal! Scheduling fittings is such an easier process for all involved.  I can now pop in on a rehearsal to check out blocking which may effect a specific costume or send up a pair knee pads when requested by stage management. Buck may want to chat about a specific costume request or idea and can come down and see costumes during construction. The list goes on.

What makes One Man, Two Guvnors a fun show to design? 

Amy Kelly
SAM: It’s great to finally have the room to do a big, technically challenging show! I haven’t been able to work on scenery this large since I worked in opera. There are lots of moving pieces working together, new ways to light scenery, and a big space to fill. We are only at the beginning of learning what we will be able to do at B Street in the near future.
PAULETTE: Period shows are always fun for me and this one takes place in 1963! It’s also a farce which allows for bold and slightly “over the top” choices on colors, hairstyles and accessories.
As you look to the future, what are some future shows or developments in the new building that excite you? 
SAM: I hope to make a lot of mistakes this first year to really learn what we are capable of at The Sofia. Whereas at the old space I was designing wide, The Sofia enables me to design tall. This will make diverse multi- or split-level sets possible, as well as comfortable traffic patterns for actors both on stage and off. A huge bonus is the depth of the space because this will not only enable us to push the boundaries of stage illusion but also have complete moving scenes with the ability to track or rotate. It’s going to require more engineering finesse from the team, but this is what we’ve been preparing for.
PAULETTE:  This year’s season, which is filled with so much diversity allowing for imaginative designing.  Making our Wardrobe Room a productive and pleasant place to make beautiful, fun and memorable costumes. (Loving our windows!) Working in the same building with all of the B Street staff! So often, we never really get the opportunity to see what parts each play in making theatre happen… now we can! 
The Sofia is open next week. Come check out our first show on our brand new stage, One Man, Two Guvnors. Tickets are available online at bstreettheatre.org 
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The Ladies of ‘Treatment’ give a Tour of Sofia!

 

Stephanie Altholz, Tara Sissom, and Amy Kelly took Sacramento by storm with their hit play, Treatment. All three are now rehearsing for the first show on the Sofia stage, One Man, Two Guvnors, and they thought the patrons would enjoy a tour given by them. Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill asked them some questions while they gave their tour of the Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts.

Amy Kelly

What was the first thing you did when you entered the Sofia for the first time? 

AMY KELLY: I cried. I started tearing up. See, I’m even doing it right now. I just had no concept what it would look like. I had only seen it as a hole in the ground. I wasn’t prepared to see it.

STEPHANIE ALTHOLZ: I felt a deep, deep sense of unworthiness. I felt certain we were all going to be fired and replaced.

TARA SISSOM: I christened the upstairs bathroom.

If you could have any room named after you in this building, what room would it be? 

AK: The Children’s Theatre. I’m gonna do a lot of ridiculous things in there. I hope to make a lot of children laugh.

SA: Probably one of the stalls in the bathroom. I pee… a LOT!

You know it’s already named.

AK: Darn!

TS: The Tea Bar. I want the whole restaurant named after me: The T-Siss Bar

That one is named too.

TS: I don’t even care. Name it after me.

 

What was the first show you ever did at the old B Street? How did you feel then and how does it compare to rehearsing for the first show at the Sofia? 

TS: My first was Make Someone Happy. It was absolutely petrifying. I was onstage with John Lamb, Peter Story and Dana Brooke and I felt so undeserving, so untalented. They were so calm and professional and my hands would be shaking cause of the terror. I felt inferior. And now I feel superior with this play. Someone should take me down a notch. This play has given us so much confidence and a breath of fresh air creatively.

AK: My first show was Well, directed by Jerry Montoya. I was really excited. I got to play multiple parts and I also got to see Buck as an Artistic Director. He was my acting coach as a kid, so it was really neat to see him in such an important role. The difference between then and now… we have nicer bathrooms, we don’t have to go to a million places to rehearse but we still have the same level of play.

SA: The first show I was ever cast in here was Swiss Family Robinson. I was absolutely terrified. I was just an intern and the cast featured Kurt Johnson, John Lamb, Jamie Jones, Michael Stevenson. I was just in awe of their talent and I so desperately wanted to be as good as they were. But now, I’ve far surpassed all of their talent. Thank God. I’m really good… really, really good.

What’s the first drink you’ll order at the brand new B Street Bar (featuring cocktails and everything)?

AK: I’ll get a whiskey on the rocks with a squirt of soda water. I’m not a complicated drinker.

SA: I’ll order the most complicated thing on the menu. And then I won’t drink it. I’ll just stare at the bartender in the eyes as I slowly poor it into the trash.

TS: A shot.

Of?

TS: Jack Daniels! Lucky No. 7.

What surprised you most about the new theatre?

TS: There’s a painted segment backstage. It’s all white. And nothing can touch it. Nothing can be in that path. There’s literally so much space, that there is a path reserved for an emergency. That would never have happened in the old space.

SA: I’m surprised it actually happened. It’s always felt like a faraway dream. It’s mere existence is mind-boggling.

AK: The size of it. It’s like… you have a dream home, you build the dream home, and then that moment, when you’re inside the dream home for the first time it’s crazy! I didn’t realize it was my dream theatre until I was in it and now I know it’s my dream theatre.

Amy Kelly

Any fun new fun stories in our new home?

TS: I wanted to test the durability of the rehearsal floors by tap dancing on them. And a couple of minutes in I left a scuff. And I freaked out! I thought Buck was going to kill me. So I got on my hands and knees and started scrubbing really hard and I buffed it right out. So these floors are bomb! They have high tech durable buffing power.

AK: I came to see Peter Story, he was at the theatre working on things and he was wearing pajamas. Man was already at home.

SA: So we were all a little concerned that this amazing new complex would change the soul of B Street, but on the second day of rehearsal for One Man, Two Guvnors, our stage manger pantsed me in the hallway. Everyone can rest assured that B Street’s soul remains unchanged.

Tickets are selling fast for One Man, Two Guvnors. Go to bstreettheatre.org and secure your tickets today, so you can see the first show ever at the Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts 

The Move: From 2711 B Street to the Sofia

 

Elisabeth Nunzaito-Program Headshot

Kurt Johnson was destroying dusty old shelves, desks, and chairs with a sledge hammer – yelling victoriously each time he threw the hammer down. Greg Alexander wore a University of Auburn sweatshirt for three days in a row, declaring proudly, “It’s my moving shirt.”  Browyn Sherman, Christine Pierson, and Hunter Henrickson carefully removed the stars off the wall in the star room, commenting upon each unique design, then wrapping them in bubble wrap.

Two days after A Moving Day closed the actual moving day began. First thing was to move completely out of the B2 space, the new home of Celebration Arts. Our Mainstage space became a storage closet. Moving boxes, lighting equipment, furniture, and documents were all organized in the former lobby and green room of the B Street Theatre. Everything else was given away or destroyed. Staff members, interns, company members, and volunteers worked tirelessly and after two days, we were ahead of schedule.

“You could tell we wanted to get out of this building as soon as possible,” said Move Manager Lyndsay Burch.

Dave Pierini-Program Image

The stage in B1 was dismantled. The ‘B st Theatre’ sign on top of the building had been removed. The lighting grid in B1 was taken down. On the ceiling you could see a large, dark red spot. “Those are my guts!” Tara Sissom would exclaim, telling the story of how her character in 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche would explode and the ‘remains’ would splat on that section of the ceiling every night. The B2 building was completely empty, all of its memories packed into blue boxes and stored in the now starless star room. This was the first week of the move.

The second week was full of waiting. The B Street staff worked via a two block stretch of K Street –  The Trade, Temple Coffee and Outlet Co-Working. We were hiring new employees, perfecting contracts, meeting with possible community partners, all the while rehearsing two shows, drinking gallons of coffee, and waiting to finally move in.  The Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts was almost ready, but a few tiny factors had to be complete; mainly inspections. There was a mechanical inspection, an electrical inspection, a plumbing inspection, an elevator inspection, a wheel chair lift inspection, a city inspection, a fire inspection. The building was examined from top to bottom. Any noticed flaw and we could be further delayed. Lyndsay Burch and Jerry Montoya checked off the list as one by one we got the green light from different committees and departments.

On the morning of January 12 the entire company met. Lucy, Elisabeth Nunziato’s dog was in attendance. As was Brynlee Doyle, Alissa Doyle’s 10-month old baby. New ID badges were given, parking passes were passed out. Welcome packets were presented with maps of emergency exits in the buildings and restaurants and coffee shops around the Sofia. The company was warned not to spill coffee inside the new theatre.

Dave Pierini-Program Image
The Moving Truck on January 12

At 3:01 PM, on January 12, we were granted occupancy. The word spread like wild fire throughout the company. Interns were instantly mobilized and every piece of material needed for rehearsal the next morning was brought to Gallery A at the Sofia. The stage was extensively swept and mopped so Sam Reno could begin painting it. The stage was adjusted so it would be level. Tara Sissom, Lyndsay Burch, and myself waited around until 11:30 PM while the phones in the new Box Office were being installed. We safely explored every inch of our new home: the theatres, the box office, the office space (so much space!), the courtyard, the rehearsal spaces on the second story which looked like a rehearsal room for a Broadway show.  We kept giggling, unable to contain our excitement. This is where we worked.

The cast of One Man, Two Guvnors received a tour the next morning, posting a million photos on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And then, they began rehearsal in Gallery A, preparing for the play that will open the Sofia on February 2.

B Street Theatre has received an enormous amount of help for this momentous occasion. We have to thank Mike Smith and Olsen and Fields who donated moving crates and moving trucks. We have to thank Teri Crisanty and Western Contract for donating furniture for our brand new offices. We have to thank the Tree Foundation and PG&E for donating an interior wood design in the Thrust theatre. The Sacramento community has continuously supported our endeavors, and we are so proud of our new home. Check out the pictures below:

Elisabeth Nunziato
The New Box Office at the Sofia
Elisabeth Nunziato
Gallery A in the Sofia
Amy Kelly
The Mainstage Thrust Theatre
Amy Kelly
The Sutter Theatre For Children

One Man, Two Guvnors opens on February 2, 2018. Come see the opening act at the Sofia and enjoy our new home. We know that you will. Tickets available at bstreettheatre.org 

 

 

 

 

Last Building Update: The Sofia Opens in Less than A Month

Amy Kelly

Under construction since May of 2016, the Sofia will officially open on February 2, 2018, in less than one month. Lyndsay Burch, Artistic Producer and Move Manager, met with Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill to discuss the final touches on the theatre and the future for the B Street Theatre. 

How close are we to moving in?

We are so close! We are less than a week away from occupancy. On Friday January 12 we’ll be receiving the keys and moving into our new space.

What’s changed since the last building update?

Basically everything. It’s almost complete. The seats in both theatres are completely in. Both stage floors are in. The rigging is in. The electrics for the lighting are in. We’re about to start hanging and focusing the new lights for the first two shows. The flooring in the upstairs rehearsal halls are in. The cubicles for the office space have just arrived and will be put together very soon. We’re seeing the finishing touches: all the lights, and the doors, and appliances are being put in. We have a functioning elevator! Lights in the bathrooms! We had an issue in securing a water line into the building and that has now been fixed! We have running water in the Sofia. The last piece of the puzzle is laying concrete in the back alley, and the main construction of the theatre will be complete. We have some aesthetic things we’re working on, getting the details just right, but really it’s all about inspections and rehearsals once we are official occupants.

As Move Manager this has been a year of your life; planning this move, getting this building just right. Now that we’re at the finish line, what has been the most surprising aspect of this experience?

Just the scope of it. We didn’t just convert an old building into a theatre, we built a brand new theater. Two brand new theaters in one space. And they’re amazing. They’re no longer just big empty rooms, they are places that can help this company thrive. We have rehearsal rooms with proper flooring and good offices. The most surprising thing, I mean, the devil’s in the details. I had a meeting where we had to decide what bolts we were using. You go from making these large decisions to these small, last-minute decisions that can completely alter the way we do business. It’s fun, but tiring work. For a decade, this theatre has been a plan on a piece of paper, and now it’s real. We’re learning so much, and we know that we have a lot to learn, but it’s gonna be fun.

Who’s joining the team now that the theatre is about to open?

Well, Browyn Sherman is our new house manager, who our blog readers just learned about. We have just hired a new facilities manager to keep the building clean and safe and give our patrons the best experience. We are hiring professional bartenders, a night-time security guard. We have hired two new technicians. And of course, our intern company who has been nothing but the best and will continue to assist us as we begin this new adventure in this brand new theatre.

Amy Kelly
Lyndsay Burch, along with Liz Liles-Brown and Anastasia Bonaccorso

On February 2, Opening night, what are you going to do?

I’m going to have a glass of wine.

I’m going to celebrate. And then… we’ve got to get right back to work: running this theatre and producing the best plays we possibly can.

One Man, Two Guvnors opens on February 2 at the Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts, the new home of the B Street Theatre. Buy your tickets today at bstreettheatre.org and come join us at our brand new home. 

The New House Manager of the Sofia: Browyn Sherman

Browyn

B Street Theatre is happy to announce our latest hire: Browyn Sherman, the House Manager of the Sofia and the face of the brand new B Street lobby. Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill met with Browyn to discuss her past and her excitement for the new theatre. 

Where are you from?

I grew up in the Minneapolis, MN area. I moved to Chicago to go to school at Loyola University and lived there for six years. Most recently I lived in rural Oklahoma.

How’d you end up in Sacramento?

My husband is a USAF pilot so we move around a lot. He is currently stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Davis.

When did you first hear of the B Street Theatre?

When I moved to the area I was looking for local theatre’s and B Street popped up. I was glad to find a theatre in the area that puts up lots of new works.

Why did you apply to work at the B Street Theatre?

My background is in theatre. That’s what I went to school for, so I was looking for theatre related jobs and saw an opening for house manager at B Street. I had done house management for a theatre company in Chicago, so I thought it would be a good fit.

What is a House Manager? What do they do?

The house manager is responsible for making sure everything in the front of house runs smoothly so that each patron has a positive experience. That means managing ushers, bartenders and janitorial staff to ensure our facilities are clean and running efficiently. I will be present during performances to assist patrons, answer questions, and help out as needed.

What is the Front Lobby gonna be like in the Sofia? How will it be different from the old B Street Theatre?

The lobby at the Sofia is brand new and much improved! It’s a big beautiful and bright space with a new box office, coat check, custom built bar, and spacious restrooms. We hope that this facility will allow us to provide an even better experience to our patrons.

What makes the B Street Theatre a fun place to work on?

It’s great to be around people who are passionate about the work they do and share a love for the arts.

What play are the most excited about in the 2018 Season?

One Man, Two Guvnors because it’s the first play I will have the opportunity to see at B Street.

RANDOM QUESTIONS:

What’s your favorite TV show right now?

Catastrophe (Amazon prime original series)

What’s your go to drink to have at a theatre?

Definitely wine.

Who’s the most inspirational teacher you’ve had?

I’ve had the privilege of learning from a number of inspirational teachers, so it’s difficult to choose one. I might have to say my mom. She’s an elementary school teacher and I think she’s pretty cool.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

You will not catch me singing karaoke. It’s my gift to society to shield them from my singing.

Amy Kelly

Come see Browyn for the first show at the Sofia, One Man, Two Guvnors. Tickets are selling fast. Go to bstreettheatre.org to be a part of our first audiences.