Barney Byard returns to Orpheum Theatre

WICHITA — Barney Byard has taken what he calls “the proverbial offer that couldn’t be refused.”

When Byard got a call about interviewing to be the new theater director at the Orpheum Theatre, he figured he’d go as a professional courtesy. He wasn’t interested in the job because he already had a similar job at Century II.

“I was really happy at C II,” he says.

Byard says, though, that he immediately realized what the Orpheum’s new partnership with SMG could mean.

“I’m really excited about the prospects here, and particularly the role that SMG can play,” he says.

Byard previously was the Orpheum’s promotions and theater manager from 2000 to 2003.

“I was kind of just a lone wolf trying to figure it out as I went along,” he says.

The SMG connection is “invaluable,” he says.

“I had my first conference call with all the theaters in the SMG network … and the wealth of knowledge and intelligence and information that’s going to be available to use … is really unprecedented for me in my professional career,” says Byard, who started on Wednesday. “I really couldn’t be more excited.”

He says the payoff for theatergoers should be more shows, and part of the payoff for the theater will be better knowledge of which shows should work.

“I really hope that folks will give us a chance to show what we can do,” Byard says. “I haven’t reinvented the wheel, haven’t cured cancer, but we are off to a good start.”