Category Archives: Theaters

The Marple venue to open in former Marple Theater and Fat Tony’s space downtown

WICHITA — A new venue is opening in the former Fat Tony’s space at 417 E. Douglas, but it’s not a bar.

“It’s going to be a completely different building than it has in quite some time,” says Kyle Dick.

Dick and Stephen Coldwell are opening the Marple to host national touring acts, which could be musicians or comedians or DJs.

“It’s really no set thing,” Coldwell says. “We just want to have a nice venue – bring back the history of it.”

Dick says he’s heard a lot of history about the building, from old Wild West characters hanging out there to burlesque dancers and even more risque goings-on.

“I don’t know how true all of it is.”

Most people remember it as the Marple Theater. Dick and Coldwell hope to show films there again and perhaps host some Tallgrass Film Festival events.

“We love the space,” Dick says. “It’s kind of been underutilized for a while.”

Coldwell says the approximately 2,500-square-foot space is “amazing.”

“I just fell in love with it,” he says.

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Cabaret Oldtown to go on hiatus while owner considers options

WICHITA — Cabaret Oldtown’s current production will end this weekend as planned, but it’s unclear when the next show may be.

“We’re not sure what our future holds,” says owner Christi Moore.

“There’s no decisions that have been made yet.”

Moore says some personal changes are forcing her to make a professional change, too.

“I have spoken to potential buyers of the theater,” she says. “I have reached out to others who have expressed interest in the past.”

Moore leases space for the downtown theater at 412 E. Douglas.

After “Sweet Southern Comfort Rock ’n’ Roll” ends this weekend, Moore says the theater will take a hiatus.

In 2005, she bought the business from founder Christine Tasheff.

“It’s my hope that it can continue, and I would love to be a part of it in some way,” Moore says. “At this point I’m not sure if it’s going to be a situation where I manage the theater under new ownership or if I would be leaving altogether.”

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You don’t say

“It actually, um, I thought was at some parts very complimentary.”

– Haysville Mayor Bruce Armstrong’s reaction to the city’s treatment in Gridiron over the weekend

You don’t say

“We would hope that they’ve got the message and we don’t show up in the show.”

– Haysville Mayor Bruce Armstrong, who led the charge for residents who feel bullied by Gridiron, which starts Thursday

“As much as Gridiron would love to stop being bullied by Haysville, the reports I’m getting from rehearsal sound like we were not able to keep them out of the script this year.”

Denise Neil, a features writer for The Eagle who also is producing the journalists’ show that spoofs local news

Haysville has its defenders just like Gridiron

WICHITA — Have You Heard? shared some of the Facebook comments poking fun at Haysville residents who don’t want to be poked fun of anymore at Gridiron, so it’s only fair to share some comments in support of Haysville, too.

Wichita resident Vaughn Fox said via e-mail that he plans to boycott Gridiron if Haysville jokes continue, and he says he’ll support Haysville monetarily in its effort to fight being ridiculed.

Derby resident Bob Cropp says he can’t help but notice the similarities between the Haysville situation and all the PR people’s complaints about PR News making fun of the Shockers.

“I think a common thread to all that is bullying,” Cropp says.

When there’s teasing of any sort, he says, it says a lot in how a person or group responds when someone says a comment hurts.

“A defensive posture means you weren’t kidding,” he says. “That’s bullying. That’s what this is all about.”

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Haysville leaders and residents are weary of being ‘portrayed as illiterate bumpkins’

The Gridiron cast usually makes Haysville jokes as an aside, not a full skit. Still, the city is not amused by them.

The Gridiron cast usually makes Haysville jokes as an aside, not a full skit. Still, the city is not amused by them.

UPDATED — The joke’s on them, and Haysville leaders and residents are not amused.

“We request that you remove all jokes about Haysville and other area communities from Gridiron,” said Haysville Mayor Bruce Armstrong in a Thursday e-mail to several people involved with the show.

Gridiron is an annual satirical production put on by the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to spoof the news and raise scholarship money for journalism students.

Armstrong said “compromising the well being of the citizens and businesses of Haysville with snide, hurtful and untrue remarks is not an acceptable means to securing the funds for those scholarships.”

Armstrong’s wife, Susan Armstrong of Armstrong Chamberlin Strategic Marketing, also wrote to “respectfully request that you reconsider any skits that portray an entire city–any city–as ignorant or toothless, or cheap. It’s the equivalent of bullying, and it shouldn’t be done.”

She said that “Haysville is growing weary of having our whole community portrayed as illiterate bumpkins. We are working hard to improve the awareness of all the wonderful qualities our city has to offer. Every time you mention Haysville at Gridiron, you hurt our efforts.”

John Burke, superintendent of schools for Haysville USD 261, wrote, “I find this counterproductive to our image campaign and am respectively requesting that you stop making fun of Haysville as part of your production.”

One resident wrote to invite those involved with Gridiron to visit Haysville for a tour – along with coming up with new material and giving Haysville a break.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Tim Norton, who regularly attends Gridiron and spars with the cast, says enough probably is enough.

“Well, I’ve always been a very, very good sport with the sarcasm, the innuendo, the poking and everything,” he says. Norton says, though, the joke is wearing thin.

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Bill Warren prepares to launch new website; also contemplates a new theater company

WICHITA — He has a $40 million theater in the works in Broken Arrow, Okla., but apparently that’s not enough of a new project to keep Bill Warren busy.

“I am thinking about starting a different theater company,” he says. “It’s just a different concept.”

Warren isn’t sharing details about it yet, but he probably will in a few months.

“I’ve been working on it for about eight months, and I think I’m probably … three months away from making the final decision on whether I’m doing it or not.”

One thing that is for sure happening a little more quickly is a new website for Warren Theatres.

“Unlike the government’s, ours will work,” Warren says. “We test ours out.”

It’s been about five years since the website was last revamped.

“We’re making it much easier to navigate,” Warren says.

He says the work is done in house, and the company takes suggestions from people who visit the site.

“We get some pretty good traffic on there,” Warren says.

On average, he says there are 45,000 visitors a week.

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Fire causes small amount of damage to the same Warren theater hit by a tornado

WICHITA — Bill Warren claims he isn’t worried about locusts, but perhaps he should be.

His IMAX theater in Moore, Okla. – the same one that was hit by a tornado in May – had a fire Sunday night that did about $10,000 in damage to the theater’s roof.

“It’s not that big of a deal,” Warren says. “It could have been a big deal.”

An air vent motor caught fire, he says, though it’s still not clear what caused it.

“We don’t know if maybe the fan got some debris in it from the storm,” Warren says.

He says it could have been electrical damage that didn’t immediately show up.

Whatever it was, Warren says he feels nothing but lucky.

“To be honest with you, I feel very fortunate,” he says.

He knows the tornado hurt other businesses in his immediate area much worse than his.

Warren says he wondered if movie sales would return to what they were before the tornado, but he says even those have been good.

“I never had a theater shut down maybe other than a day of my entire career,” he says.

The theater shut down for eight days.

“I just didn’t know if there would be some lingering effect of people going elsewhere.”

That hasn’t happened, Warren says.

All the way around, he says, “If you think about it, we were lucky.”

So the threat of locusts – or any other natural or man-made disasters – isn’t a concern for Warren.

“Not even close.”

You don’t say

“It’s not because it’s bad and nobody else wanted it.”

Music Theatre of Wichita’s Wayne Bryan joking about Wichita landing the U.S. debut of “Betty Blue Eyes” this week

Bill Warren’s IMAX theaters again are the top-grossing IMAX theaters in the country

WICHITA — Bill Warren is getting a bit of a reputation, and he doesn’t mind.

He says his Moore, Okla., and Wichita IMAX theaters again were the No. 1 and No. 2 top-grossing IMAX theaters in the country over the weekend and that the Empire IMAX in New York City was No. 3.

Warren’s theaters have been on top so much, soon it’ll hardly be news if they make it again. Warren admits he now has something to live up to.

“As opposed to my normal thing – something I have to live down to.”

Warren says the numbers, which he won’t share, are particularly significant given that his prices are less expensive than tickets in New York and elsewhere.

He credits his staff and the design of his theater, which opened at 21st and Tyler in 2010.

The IMAX theaters are all showing “Oz the Great and Powerful,” Warren says.

“For a movie this big to do that, that’s pretty incredible.”

Warren admits he’s proud and perhaps a bit braggadocios about the whole thing.

“You’re right. I am bragging. admittedly so. Out-grossing New York? I mean, come on.”