Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Frank Buxton was a well-known Hollywood writer and director, who oversaw many episodes of some of television’s more iconic sitcoms, such as The Odd Couple, Mork & Mindy and Happy Days.
Buxton, who is now deceased, and his wife, Cynthia Sears, eventually migrated north to Bainbridge Island in the late 1980s and took the then fledgling Bainbridge Performing Arts program under their wing. To thank him and his wife for their many contributions to the local art scene, backers of BPA are renaming the playhouse—after nearly $20 million in renovations—The Buxton Center for Bainbridge Performing Arts.
Buxton helped start up, and perform in, the island’s Edge Comedy Troupe way back when, and would probably be laughing out loud at the prospect of a building being named after him, a la Groucho Marx, who famously groused that he would never be a member of a club that would have him as a member. But local residents are cordially invited to both laugh with and celebrate Buxton’s memory at the grand unveiling of BPA’s newly-renovated facility on Saturday, September 30th at 5:30 PM.
“This is a special opportunity for the community to experience firsthand the significant enhancements and additions before we open our first Mainstage shows in October, beginning with The Edge Improv on the 7th and the Broadway musical The Prom on October 13th,” says Matt Longmire, BPAs Communications and Development Coordinator.
“This event celebrates the enduring support of our community, as we officially cut the ribbon and open our doors,” he explains. “We will offer a look into the state-of-the-art building featuring improved seating and accessibility, reduced environmental footprint, and the introduction of our brand-new Studio theater.”
The evening promises to be a memorable one as attendees groove to the dynamic beats of the Anzanga Marimba Ensemble, savor the unique atmosphere of the Moonlight Market beer garden, and introduce themselves to the new facility.
The Buxton Center – located on Town Square adjacent to City Hall – includes, among others features, a brand-new studio theater space, new multi-aisle seating, an expanded lobby and restrooms, a new roof with a solar array, an upgraded box office and administrative offices, improved dressing rooms and HVAC systems, and even an elevator, leading to an upstairs landing area. You can take a tour by visiting: BUXTON CENTER — Bainbridge Performing Arts.
“We’re very excited. It’s been a long time coming,” adds Longmire. “It’s a pretty big footprint increase…We’re lined up in the front entrance with Town Square and a (new) patio out front for hosting events and for people gathering before shows.”
The embellishments added another 5,000 square feet to BPA’s existing footprint of 12,000 square feet. And the improvements also included upgrades and maintenance on a lot of existing spaces and systems. “This place was really in need of a lot of love,” adds Longmire, who originally joined the organization some three years ago to help manage the fundraising campaign.
Among the new Buxton Center’s more eye-popping aspects is the two-story tall glass walls surrounding the entryway that showcase the new lobby, a new concession area, and beautiful new staircase to the second floor. But what may be most apparent to patrons is the new and improved seating.
Longmire says the seats are two inches wider than the previous 19-inch seats and the new configuration allows for more legroom. Patrons will sit a bit higher above the stage, thanks to a foundational riser, and those located in the upper echelons can access their seats via the stairs or an elevator.
Details for the event are as follows:
Date: Saturday, September 30th
Time: 5:30 p.m. onwards, ribbon cutting at 6 p.m.
Location: 200 Madison Ave N, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Admission: Open to the public. No tickets or reservation
Bainbridge Performing Arts is dedicated to nurturing creativity and expression, offering an expansive array of artistic opportunities for the Bainbridge community and beyond. With its recent renovations, the Center hopes to further its mission by providing a modern, accessible, and environmentally-friendly space for artists and audiences alike.
*Image credits: Kevin Dwyer and the BPA website
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