Children’s Theatre at B Street

The B Street Theatre’s Buck Busfield officially has launched the Children’s Theatre of California, with the first performance planned for February 22.The concept of starting a resident professional theater company aimed at children and families has been incubating in Busfield’s mind for more than a decade. He planned on having performances begin when the B Street closes a property transaction that will move the theater from its current location at 2711 B Street—next to the railroad tracks, behind the Stanford Park baseball diamond—to a more centrally located and more visible location in Midtown.

But Busfield decided not to wait for the new building to launch the Children’s Theatre. “To build a new theater, that’s a huge project. And to fill it with new programming at the same time would be daunting. So, we decided to introduce it to the community now and see if we can get some momentum so that when we do get a new building [with more seats], we can tell people that more of them can come and see it.”

Busfield described the Children’s Theatre as unique. “There’s nothing like it in the Sacramento Valley,” he said. Shows probably will feature a 50-50 mix of professional and community actors. “These will be big shows, with nine or 10 or 11 actors in the cast,” compared with a typical B Street show’s cast of three to seven actors, Busfield promised.

“These will be two-hour, two-act plays,” Busfield said. “The real crux of this is to get kids to sit down next to their parents and see some incredible storytelling.” If those kids go on to attend shows at the B Street Theatre when they grow up, well, that’s basically Busfield’s goal.

The new Children’s Theatre shows will be staged in the B Street’s “B-2” studio theater and will feature more props, more costumes and more lighting than the touring Fantasy Theatre productions that have been part of the B Street’s offerings for many years. (Fantasy Theatre essentially offers “theater to go.” Its actors, props and costumes travel together in a van to present 45-minute performances at schools within a roughly 75-mile radius of Sacramento.)

Scripts under consideration for the first season of Children’s Theatre include Still Life with Iris by Steven Dietz; The Boxcar Children, adapted from the popular series of children’s books; Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, adapted by Kevin Kling; and The Hardy Boys, adapted from the popular series of whodunits.

Children’s Theatre performances will be at 7 p.m. Fridays and at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. There also will be 10 a.m. performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with an eye toward attracting classroom groups making field trips.

Season tickets are $56 for adults and $42 for children. Individual tickets will be $20 for adults and $15 for children. Busfield said the new Children’s Theatre series already has 600 subscribers and has corporate underwriters for the first four shows. For information, call the B Street Theatre at (916) 443-5300.