NoMar Theatre Inc. is in negotiations with Karen Morris to purchase the Crown Uptown Theatre near Douglas and Hillside.
"I would like to see the theater continue," Morris says. "Ted and I worked there 31 years, and it means a lot to me."
Morris, whose late husband, Ted, founded the dinner theater, owns the building but hasn't been running a theater in the space.
She leased the building to Crown Uptown Management , which struggled financially, until last month when she changed the locks.
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Morris says there are several parties interested in either purchasing or using the Crown Uptown space.
NoMar Theatre Inc., which formed two years ago to try to buy and restore the NoMar Theatre at 21st and Market, is starting a capital campaign to try to buy the Crown Uptown space.
J Basham, the interim executive director, says the idea is to purchase the Crown and make enough money from it to eventually purchase and renovate the historic NoMar Theatre and the building next to it.
Basham's father owns the NoMar Theatre and has used it for his Basham Rent To Own business.
Basham says the NoMar group has a 12-person board, which includes Pam Bugler , who is chairwoman and has a history in development.
Former Cabaret Oldtown owner and producer Christine Tasheff is on the board as well and will work with Basham, who was promotions and operations director at the Orpheum Theatre for 3 1/2 years, on producing and bringing in shows.
They plan summer educational programs as well.
The NoMar group will stage its own season and bring in other shows and concerts as well.
Basham says the group will invite promoters and others to come in and do shows and concerts or to use the facility for other purposes.
"I think a theater has to be used as a rental house," Basham says. "It's got to be versatile."
He says the Crown Uptown can easily accommodate that.
"It's perfect for it."
Tasheff says the new company won't necessarily be competing with Music Theatre of Wichita and Cabaret Oldtown. She says NoMar's productions won't be as big as Music Theatre's or as small as Cabaret Oldtown's.
When she had Cabaret, Tasheff says she had a reputation for "just being a little more edgy."
Basham says, "We need to bring that back to Wichita."
Tasheff wants "to hip it up," aesthetically, visually and with the productions.
"I want people to be awestruck at how cool it is," she says. "I think J and I can both bring a pretty strong hip factor."
Tasheff thinks her business experience from her Cabaret days will help, too.
"When every bobby pin and costume comes out of your pocket, you really learn how to do things inexpensively," she says. "I got pretty good at having a show appear that a lot of money (was) spent on it.
"You become very aware of how not to overspend," Tasheff says. "That has been the problem of some of the other endeavors that have taken place."
In early May, Have You Heard? reported that Crown Uptown Management was almost $150,000 behind in state and federal taxes.
The NoMar group wants to raise $500,000 to buy and remodel the Crown and begin productions.
"Hopefully, interviews like this will help," Tasheff says. "It depends on how charming both of us are."
She adds, "I've already gotten a call from someone this morning saying, 'Go, girl.' "
Basham expects there to be support.
"We feel very confident that we can raise the money," he says. "It would just be a shame for this city to have that building close down."
The group's most important supporter may be Morris.
"The NoMar group has the theater experience and the business experience to hopefully take over the theater and make a go of it," she says.
"I would really like to see the NoMar group be able to get the theater.... They have some great ideas."
KSN makes changes
At long last, KSN , Channel 3 , is making changes to its 10 p.m. newscast that it first informed its staff about in February.
"The idea was to give it a fresh approach," says Darrin Fullerton , KSN's interim director of marketing.
The former weekend anchor team of Brooke Martin , J.D. Rudd and Jamison Coyle is the new 10 p.m. team as of Monday.
Coyle became KSN's lead sports anchor in March after sportscaster Jim Kobbe left.
Aileen Simborio will replace Martin on the weekends. Meteorologist Mark Bogner will join her.
Simborio has been anchoring the station's noon show. Former 10 p.m. co-anchor Stephanie Bergmann now will join Mark Davidson on the noon show.
Bergmann, along with former 10 p.m. anchor John Snyder and chief meteorologist Dave Freeman will continue to be on the 6 p.m. newscast.
Bergmann and Freeman will be on the 5 p.m. newscast as well.
Snyder will do in-depth reporting in addition to co-anchoring the 6 p.m. news.
Fullerton says the staff is extremely versatile, which he says allows for the changes and to "continue to take advantage of the talent we have in house."
There are other changes in the works as well.
"There's going to be some changes in the direction of the newscast," Fullerton says.
He says this includes changes to the station's partnership with KRBB, 97.9-FM , and KZSN, 102.1-FM .
"They're going to be offering up some content to maximize our relationship."
Fullerton couldn't be more specific.