Lambda finds a home

The Lambda Players are staging their first official off-Broadway production. Not only is it off-Broadway; it’s also tucked behind the Broadway Bait, Rod and Gun shop. After 15 years as a traveling troupe, this community theater company finally has found a home. In a building that once housed a Brazilian dance studio and an adult movie theater, the Lambda Players are creating a permanent performance place. The 49-seat, 1,700-square-foot theater is within walking distance of the Tower corner and more than 10 restaurants. The red-walled theater is more than a building to Lambda’s artistic director, Matthew Burlingame, and board president, Tom Swanner. It’s the culmination of a longtime dream.

“For 15 years, we haven’t had a place to call our own,” explained Swanner. “We felt like a perpetual road tour, having to haul sets, props, costumes and files to each theater we were performing in, constantly letting our audience know where our newest production was.”

The audience always followed. The company—which produces plays with gay-, lesbian- and transgender-centered themes—is strongly supported by a community that wants productions that reflect its issues and interests.

This community has come out in droves to support the new theater. “People take you more seriously when you have your own theater,” Burlingame explained. “They have a place to donate to and volunteer at, a place to call their own, and they have responded. This feels like a dawning of a new era for us.”

Of course, there is added stress in owning a theater. “It’s triple the work of just renting a theater space for a show,” Swanner confessed. “I have to get butts in the seats for every performance because the rent has to be paid and the heat kept on.”

The Lambda Players’ current production, Just Us Girls, plays through March 27. It will be followed by a full season of shows. The new theater is located at 2427 17th Street. Call (916) 444-8229 for tickets and show times.