Arts & Theater

Sacramento theater company eyes move to West Sacramento

Runaway Stage Productions is looking to build a new theater inside an industrial metal building on South River Road in West Sacramento. The finished facility would include 250 seats, new sound and lighting and other amenities.
Runaway Stage Productions is looking to build a new theater inside an industrial metal building on South River Road in West Sacramento. The finished facility would include 250 seats, new sound and lighting and other amenities.

A popular local theater company is looking to leave its longtime home base in Curtis Park for a burgeoning West Sacramento development.

Runaway Stage Productions has kicked off a $250,000 fundraising effort to move to a facility in an industrial section of West Sacramento that’s repositioning itself as a future retail and residential district.

The new home would be located on South River Road in West Sacramento, on land owned by the Ramos Oil Co. family. The area, which is situated less than a mile south of Raley Field and the growing Bridge District, is located near the proposed site of a bridge that would connect Sacramento and West Sacramento and further develop the riverfront.

The $250,000 would allow Runaway Stage Productions to build a 250-capacity theater that’s equipped with new sound and light systems, an expanded concessions program to include beer and wine, and a host of other amenities. For the past 12 years, the organization has rented space for its family-oriented productions at the 24th Street Theater at the Sierra 2 Center in Curtis Park, which includes a run of “Shrek - The Musical” from Aug. 26 to Sept. 18.

“The time has come for us to move on and expand,” said Bob Baxter, producing director for Runaway Stage Productions. “Starting with ‘Shrek,’ I will talk to the audience before each show, briefly highlighting (the fundraising effort) and its improvements.”

The nonprofit theater company produces six shows a year, and also runs a series of youth workshops for dancing, vocals and acting. Runaway Stage Productions will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2017, and currently rents separate spaces for equipment storage and rehearsals. Plans for its West Sacramento theater call for all of its operations and storage to be housed in one facility.

Runaway State Productions has ties to West Sacramento. The company has staged some productions at the Black Box Theatre, which is located inside the West Sacramento Community Center. Starting in late 2015, Baxter entered into talks with West Sacramento city officials, including Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, about the prospect of moving to the Yolo County side of the Sacramento River.

Runaway Stage Productions would take about half of a 44,000-square-foot industrial metal building that’s suited for multiple tenants, including apartments, office services, eating and drinking establishments and more. The project is geared to coincide with the Broadway Bridge proposed nearby, which would connect Sacramento near Miller Park to an industrial section of West Sacramento that’s traditionally been marked with silos and oil refinery equipment.

Some of those silos have since been demolished to make way for West Sacramento’s Pioneer Bluff development, which is envisioned as a mixed-use area of housing and retail that would further develop West Sacramento’s waterfront. The Broadway Bridge itself is projected to be many years away. According to the Broadway Bridge Feasibility Study undertaken by the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, bridge construction would finish between 2025 and 2030.

Like Runaway Stage Productions, other possible tenants are looking to plant their flag in this developing section of West Sacramento. According to Jeff Post of TRI Commercial, the real estate broker behind the theater property, he’s received numerous inquiries for other spaces on the property. Interest has come from three local craft breweries, a business that would host “fowling,” a sport that combines football with bowling, and others.

Post believes that Runaway Stage Productions, with its potential to host upwards of 250 people, could be a key way for locals to get introduced to the area as development continues.

“Somebody has to pioneer it and get their foothold,” said Post. “If you get 250 people a night, they’re going to see everything else (that’s coming nearby) and it all takes off on its own.”

Runaway Stage Productions has since come to a lease agreement with TRI Commercial, which requires a $17,500 down payment and other fees to secure the space. The rest of the fundraising dollars would pay for construction of the theater space, which could debut by February 2017 if all goes as planned.

All that stands now between this proposition and a curtain raising is $250,000.

“We have a space and we have a lease in front of us,” said Baxter. “It’s time to get the pedal to the metal and do some fundraising.”

Chris Macias: 916-321-1253, @chris_macias