At the beginning of the previous century, playhouses were the hubs of cultural cross-communication and local socialization. The Wichita Theatre, in Kansas, was not an exception.
List of important dates:
- 1908 – foundation of the theatre
- 1939 – bought by the Interstate Theatre
- 1995 – bought by the Jackson Family
- 2000 – signed an agreement with the Branson group
- 2008 – celebrated 100th anniversary
- 2014 – opened the Performing Arts Centre for youth
The Wichita Theatre was established in 1908 by a Wichita House Opera Company, formed the same year specifically to launch a playhouse in the city. The land for it was donated by wealthy citizens, and the whole project has been financed by the public. The building of the playhouse has been erected the same year.
The very first play demonstrated in the Wichita Theatre was “His Honor, the Mayor”. It gathered full house and was a success. The main reason for such a success was the fact that there was no proper stage in the city before, and all the citizens were pleased to have one at last. In addition, the building was rented off for different events like ballet, opera, concerts, traveling acts, music festivals and school graduation ceremonies.
In early 1920s, when the first silent movies became available for the public of the city, the stage was redesigned to function as cinema. However, in 1926 the Municipal Auditorium was opened. It was a new, modern building, larger and better equipped for all functions previous held by the Wichita Theatre, and the fame of the latter began to decline.
After the days of fame and popularity were gone, the Wichita Theatre stopped being a place of cultural and intelligent communication and was for a long time used as a wrestling arena. Only in 1939 it was bought by the Interstate Theatre. A considerable renewal and redesign words have been conducted, and the Wichita Theatre reopened once again. It was rebuilt in the Art Deco style popular in those years, and it had kept its now unique architecture up to these days.
In 1995 the playhouse was bought again, by the Jackson Family. Starting from this year the facility did pretty well, hosting numerous famous actors and events, and gradually buying real estate nearby to use for warehouses, offices and etc. In 2000, the Branson group signed an agreement to share the management operations, and within only four months of collaboration they got their investments back.
Starting from 2000s, the historical Wichita Theatre launched into its successful future. The new management hosted Broadway shows and other events that attracted huge crowds of public to the stage. In 2007, the Wichita theatre, which was already a whole complex by then, was donated by the jackson Family to the 4 Kidz Sake company. In 2008, it celebrated its 100th anniversary, and in 2009, opened the Wichita Theatre Performing Arts Centre. In 2014, the Wichita Theatre launched a special Performance Academy School funded by the local public. The School offers performance workshop series to the local youth.
Today, the Wichita Theatre is not only part of local historical heritage, it functions as a place of cultural events and as an educational centre as well.