- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) - The only professional theater between Kansas City and Denver is ready for a summer season in its new home.

The Great Plains Theatre in Abilene has put on shows at various sites since a fire destroyed its building in July 2014. The theater is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association, as are most of the actors, who are paid to perform, the Salina Journal (https://bit.ly/22vuuZP ) reported.

The new theater is in the former headquarters of ALCO Stores. It seats 150 and provides much more space for the former theater.

In December, a movie screen was added to the theater to show first-run movies for the first time in Abilene since the fire.

“The new buzz-words are ‘adapted reuse’ and ‘repurposing,’” said Elizabeth Weese, the theater’s executive director. “We are repurposing this space. It is working out.”

Former theater board president Gina Dalton said that the fire that destroyed the building was emotional, but the spirit behind the theater never disappeared.

“That was just a building,” Dalton said. “I know that everyone is sad that we lost the building. We did not lose Great Plains Theatre that night.”

Besides finding a new home, Great Plains Theatre’s finances also are improving, thanks to a $25,000 donation from Astra Bank.

“There were some fiscally challenging times over the years,” said theater board President Lorraine McClain. “Things were stressful and they were difficult. But the mission of the theater has stayed the same.”

A new artistic director, Randy West, was hired, and his wife, Marguerite Claire, will be the director of education.

The summer season starts June 10 with “Annie Get Your Gun.”

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Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, https://www.salina.com


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