Big Day of Giving @ B Street Theatre

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With Big Day of Giving launching next week, B Street Theatre wanted to do something special for the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s 24-hour online giving challenge. Along with a presence online, B Street will be hosting an all day party at the Sofia. The event was spearheaded by our new Development Director Colette Rice. Unfortunately, we don’t think our blog readers have had an opportunity to officially meet our new hire in Development. The following is Colette’s story of coming to B Street and leading our Circle of Support and Big Day of Giving initiatives.

I was born in Sacramento. I graduated from El Camino High School (Go Eagles!). I remember hearing about B Street Theatre 20 years ago, and actually worked at the Stage Door Comedy Playhouse with Dave Pierini’s father, Don.  I eventually left for New York and started a career in the theatre. I did a lot of different jobs while I was on the East Coast: acting, directing, singing opera, and I ended up being the Artistic Director of The Actors Shakespeare Company in the New Jersey/ New York area. I learned a lot during that time. It was post-recession, and the theatre world was struggling. We had to find creative ways to survive and had to find partnerships that would help support and sustain the organization while also making community connections. We spent five years as the professional theatre-in-residence at New Jersey City University, which gave ASC a foundation of support and gave NJCU bragging rights to the only professional resident theatre in Hudson County.

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I came back to Sacramento a few years ago to care for my mother in her final years. This winter, I was eager to get back to work in the theatre and was excited to find out that B Street was looking for a Development Director. I joined the staff in December of 2017, right before the big move. I was a bit nervous. The staff at B Street is a tight knit family, and I was the new kid in class. But they embraced me and allowed me to bring my own creativity into the work place.

As Development Director, I work with Buck and the rest of the B Street staff  to create strategies that keep B Street growing and thriving. We have worked extremely hard to preserve the best of B Street’s much-loved history while building a solid foundation of security and growth. For many years, the focus has been the capital campaign, for good reasons. It’s why we are now in this jewel of a theatre, producing plays in a way we couldn’t have in the old 2711 B Street location. But now we’re moving into a new and expanded development plan.

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The Sofia Circle of Support has been a tremendous success. We feel such pride anytime we see one of you wearing those pretty pins to the theatre. However, B Street Theatre’s goal is too always find more, fun ways to interact with our audience. Therefore, our Big Day of Giving will not only be online, but in our physical theatre.

Dapper Dogs and their hot dog cart will be in front of the theatre, serving classic hot dogs, hot links, veggie dogs, and a plethora of drinks and chips. Once inside the theatre, the bar will be open and ready to serve you pints of Sactown Union Beer, Revolution Wine, and all sort of cocktails. Plus, members of the Artistic and Administrative staff will be giving tours of the facility: backstage, rehearsal spaces, green room, dressing rooms, and both theatres. Also, Kennedy DJ Entertainment will be in the courtyard with karaoke, ready for our guests to sing and rock out to their favorite tunes.

Finally, our tour guests will get an opportunity to get a sneak peak at our upcoming Mainstage production, Airness. Guests will be able to watch actors rehearse and get an insight to the creative process that few of our patrons get to experience.

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So give on the Big Day of Giving, but also, come down to the B Street Theatre and get a backstage look at how we bring the performances that you love to the stage.

Big Day of Giving is on May 3, next Thursday. Donate to B Street Theatre by visiting to our webpage, but more importantly, come down and party with the coolest theatre in town.

 

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Music @ the Sofia: the staff share some of its favorite moments thus far

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Martin Sexton playing at the Sofia

Since opening the Sofia B Street Theatre and SBL Entertainment have brought a diverse collective of musical acts to the stage. After twenty nights of awesome music, the staff at the B Street Theatre shared some of their favorite moments and the reasons why music at the Sofia is so fantastic. 

Jerry Montoya, Executive Producer

The first SBL concert featured the blues guitarist Tinsley Ellis. We hadn’t had the opportunity to have a dry tech in the space yet, and so, while we were rehearsing, preparing the technical necessities for the concert, someone unplugged the wrong cord and the sound system completely shut down. Not a good thing before a concert. So I began sniffing around and I found a breaker that hadn’t been flipped yet. I thought to myself, “this is obviously the problem.” So I flipped it over, and suddenly the roof hatch above us opened up. So now we’re looking at the sky above us, and we still have no power to the sound system, all the while trying to get ready for the first live concert here at the Sofia. Everyone got to work quickly. One of our contractors came down from Yuba City to help out, and we were able to fix all of the problems in time. The concert itself… was awesome. Tinsley Ellis is such a pro. And he showed us how amazing the Sutter Theatre can sound. Afterwards, he came up to me and said, “You have to record live concerts here. The sound is so pure.” It was definitely uplifting. We’re still finding ways to improve the experience, but these live concerts really are a gift to the B Street Theatre. It’s something we’ve never done before, and to see it all work out so well… we’re excited for the future.

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Tinsley Ellis, Paul Piazza Photography

 

Lyndsay Burch, Artistic Producer

The coolest thing about the concerts to me is the diversity of the performers. I saw Tinsley Ellis with my family–they’re from North Carolina and they absolutely loved it. And then I saw the spiritual speaker Rob Bell. I’m not a spiritual person, but he was absolutely amazing. That was our first sold out ‘concert’ in the Sutter Theatre and the lobby of the Sofia was packed. So many people had come out to see him. The line to the Box Office went all the way to the bathrooms. And no one was angry or befuddled. They were all just so excited to see this man in person. I’m hoping one day we’ll be able to bring in Alicia Keys or Lindsey Buckingham. But the acts we’re bringing in right now have such big followings. We’ve had such a diverse group of people come to the Sofia. Some don’t even know it’s a theatre, and when they arrive, they suddenly realize, “Oh man! I gotta see one of the plays here too.” It’s been fun to watch this space grow so quickly.

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Rob Bell

 

Valerie Marston, Family Series Administrator 

My husband and I have seen three concerts at the Sofia and we love it. We saw Tinsley Ellis, Oleta Adams, and Chris Webber and Nina Gerber, who opened for Karla Bonoff.  Oleta Adams was amazing. She had a hit in the 90’s, I remember because I was in a Top 40 band at the time, and she sounded just as good as she did back then.  And the space itself is awesome. It isn’t a tiny venue at all, but it feels so intimate. My husband and I like to sit in the back so we can absorb the entire experience. We both come from the world of music, and these nights are so much fun for us. We can grab a glass of wine, bring it into the theatre with us, listen to some great music, and get home at a decent hour. (She laughs) It’s the perfect date night.

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Oleta Adams

 

Liz Liles-Brown, Marketing Director 

As a musician who’s toured across the country, and the former owner of a music venue, I have a lot of experience in how venues ought to be run. B Street is now a full performance venue. There have been one or two hiccups along the way, however, customer service is always our number one priority, whether two people are in the lobby or 700. I have never experienced the amount of care and friendly interaction in a venue like the type B Street provides. Instead of treating people like a ticket stub, we value each person walking through the doors of the Sofia. We feel that one night at this space can convince people to come back for Family Series, Upstairs @ the B, and Mainstage productions. There have been a lot of people who’ve come here for a concert not realizing we do so much more. And once they realize, it’s so much fun to see them figure out when to come back. One of the opening acts even bought tickets for his family to come see The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe. The coolest thing about it all: patrons are walking into a music venue that has 30 year’s experience as a theatre company. This is rare because you will have a one-in-a-million experience when you come see a show in Sacramento’s new jewel of a theatre.

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Bird’s Eye View of the Sutter Theatre

Sean Patrick Nill, Artistic Associate

My first time house managing a concert at the Sofia was the night we hosted the Masters of Hawaiian Music. People had come from all over to see these guys play: from Sacramento, from the Bay Area, from Los Angeles, some even from Hawaii. The night was going smoothly, and, after a quick stop at the restroom, I returned to find the headliner of the concert, George Kahumoku Jr, hanging out in the lobby before his set, snacking on three different cans of Blue Diamond Almonds. We started talking about music, theatre, and the amazing quality of sound in the Sutter Theatre. But once he learned I worked at the B Street Theatre, he held out a can of Sriracha flavored almonds to me and said, “C’mon man, have some almonds. You guys have earned good almonds.” The amount of appreciation these musicians have shown is reward enough.  We’re new at this, and we’re learning as we go along, but each night–whether it is a gospel singer, or a bluegrass band, or a violinist–it’s fun to watch these talented musicians convey such excitement over this new venue. I can’t wait to meet them all, and to listen to the amazing music they bring to the Sofia.

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Masters of Hawaiian Music

The Sofia will be hosting six concerts and special events before the month of April is over, including Cubanismo this Friday,  guitarist Eleftheria Kotzia (presented by the Sacramento Guitar Society) this Saturday, and the popular podcast, Welcome to Night Vale this upcoming Monday. Got to bstreettheatre.org to book your tickets now.

 

Dana Brooke on the Family Series Stage

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Dana Brooke has been a long time member of the B Street Theatre Acting Company. However, she’s never appeared on the Family Series stage. That all changes this Sunday. Days before B Street’s production of The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe opens, Dana sat down with Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill to discuss the legacy of Narnia and her first time on stage at the Sutter Theatre for Children.

Did you ever read The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid?

Yes! I had the set of seven, which I wish I still had. Got lost in one of the many moves over the years.

Why is it a good story for children? 

Whether you read into any of the underlying meanings, or simply read the tale for the adventure, the books are full of mystery and action and wonder and imagination, all great things that make a story riveting. It’s a wild ride! And the adaptation we’ve put on stage is full of the same fantastic elements. There’s snow, and sword fights, and a talking beaver… plus flying and magic… what’s not fun about that?

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When was the last time you acted in a children’s show?

This is my first time! It’s a whole different beast, and I’m having a blast. I’ve gotten a lot of help from the seasoned pros here at B Street and the kids in our audiences are incredible.

What is your experience on the Family Series stage outside of acting? 

I’ve written two scripts for the Family Series: Extraordinary Things: Through the Eyes of Anne Frank and The Three Musketeers. Both are rewarding experiences; learned a lot!

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The Set of “The Three Musketeers”

How has writing children’s theatre assisted this time in acting children’s theatre?

I’ve learned that whether one is writing or acting, the fundamentals of story telling are the same. You’ve got to be clear in what you’re trying to communicate, either in writing text or performing it. Same job, different hats.

John Lamb has been on the Family Series stage more than any other company member. What has it been like acting with him on this stage?

John Lamb is just plain dreamy to work with. I beg anyone to argue otherwise.

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Dana Brooke & John Lamb

This is your first time performing at the Sofia? How does it feel to be an actor on the Sutter stage?

Feels great! Still like home, but brand spankin’ new and all the perks that come with that. Lots of fun new toys!

Come see Dana Brooke in The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe, opening to the public this Sunday, April 15. Call the Box Office at (916) 443-5300 to book your tickets today! 

 

DELIVERED: a story slam at The Sofia

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On Thursday April 12, B Street will undergo a test run performance at The Sofia by hosting a story slam called DELIVERED. Started by Susie Fields Delmar in 2013, DELIVERED is a national story-telling organization which specifies in birth stories and reproductive health. Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill sat with Adara Blake, the Director of  DELIVERED’s Sacramento Chapter, to discuss the event on April 12 and the Sacramento Chapter of DELIVERED .

What is DELIVERED? 

DELIVERED is a story slam event featuring stories of reproduction health, from contraception to pregnancy and beyond. We feature stories from the full spectrum of experience and fully support the choices made by individuals facing reproductive decisions. Stories are crafted by tellers based on personal experience as a participant/partner/provider/witness to reproductive health moments and told in five minutes or less. Our teller line-up is curated to be inclusive of diverse identities and experience.

How did DELIVERED begin? How has it grown? 

DELIVERED was founded by Susie Fields Delmar, a family medicine and obstetrics physician, who became interested in the stories of her patients. Recognizing the empowerment and community building that could grow out of these stories being told, the organization was founded and held its first slam in Boston in 2013. Since then, slams have been held by chapters in Cape Cod, St. Louis, and now Sacramento. We had our first slam in December at Shine Coffee House on 14th Street.

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When did the The Sofia peak your interest? Why is it a good venue for DELIVERED?

The Sofia is providing an unparalleled opportunity for local artists to present their work in a state-of-the-art facility. DELIVERED seeks to connect local communities to the sometime raw, sometimes funny, and always thought provoking realities of reproduction through the art of storytelling – what better place to do that than at Sacramento’s number one theatre company? We are so grateful for the support the theatre has given us in order to scale up our vision and bring it to a larger and more diverse audience.

What should we expect on Thursday April 12? 

Thursday’s stories will feature a wide range of tellers, from a young woman’s experience confronting an usual life and fertility threatening health condition, to a father embracing the humor in trying to conceive a child, to a doctor’s perspective as a provider of provider of reproductive health services. We also always leave room for an audience teller and will collect submissions throughout the evening, because we believe everyone has a story to tell.

 

Why is B Street and DELIVERED a good partnership?

DELIVERED and B Street is a natural partnership because we share many of the same goals – to use the art of storytelling and performance to educate, promote community, and to connect with a diverse audience.

DELIVERED will at the Sofia on Thursday April 12 at 7:00 PM. More information is on our website under “Other Entertainment.” Come hear these amazing stories. 

Notes from an Expert: UC Davis Professor of Finance Brad Barber on “Dry Powder”

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Brad Barber was the first talk back guest for our production of Dry Powder. As a professor of finance at UC Davis, Barber has extensive knowledge of private equity and its effect on America. He sat with Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill to overview the authenticity of Dry Powder. 

Did you enjoy the show? 

Brad: Tremendously. Dry Powder has a very clever script that educates, entertains, and challenges the audience. The acting in this production is excellent!
Why is it an important play for present day America?
Dry Powder is well grounded in the world of private equity and lays bare some of the tensions that capitalism creates in our society. These issues remain front and center as we discuss issues of free trade, tax policy, and social safety nets.
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What are three important aspects that everyone should know about private equity?
First off, Private equity firms (e.g., Blackstone) use a pool of investor money (e.g., CalPERS, Yale Endowment, etc.) to buy/invest in private companies (e.g., Uber, California Pizza Kitchen). Secondly, Private equity can be disruptive, creating new products that disrupt existing industries and displace workers. And finally, Private equity does spread great ideas/products and does improve the efficiency of existing goods/services.
Does this show convey/clarify those aspects? 
The play does a terrific job of explaining the various aspects of private equity, including the large sums of money that those in private equity make.
Why is private equity such a complex machine? Is there a tool or way  in which people who aren’t involved in that world could better understand it? 
The basic problem that private companies have is finding capital. The private equity industry is designed to solve this problem by acquiring money from investors and identifying companies that have great promise for either spreading ideas or operational improvements. The book and movie Barbarians at the Gate is a good complement to Dry Powder and provides an easy introduction to the world of private equity.
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Why is private equity an important function for American industry? How does it hurt us overall as a country? 
Private equity can spread good ideas, improve the operational efficiency of companies, and earn investors a solid return (which in California, private equity funds many of our pensions via CalSTRS and CalPERS). While delivering these desirable outcomes, private equity can be disruptive and lead to job losses, which has a tremendous impact on communities and families. As a society, we have not yet learned  how to deal with the economic disruption that occurs from innovation, technology, and trade, which are the tools that private equity uses to spread ideas and create operational efficiency. Innovation, technology, and trade generally yield a bigger pie, but they also create winners and losers in our society. We must be thoughtful, and try to ensure that the gains made by private equity are enjoyed by all.
Dry Powder runs until April 29. Call the Box Office at (916) 443-5300 to get your tickets to this hysterical look at the world of high finance. 
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