Carrie Rengers

Familiar face on the Wichita theater scene buys the Crown Uptown Theatre

J Basham has managed the Crown Uptown Theatre for Mike Garvey for the last couple of years, and on Thursday he bought the business.
J Basham has managed the Crown Uptown Theatre for Mike Garvey for the last couple of years, and on Thursday he bought the business. The Wichita Eagle

Eight years after his first attempt to buy the Crown Uptown Theatre, J Basham has succeeded.

In 2011, Basham was part of a group that tried to buy the 1928 theater from longtime owner Karen Morris, but they couldn’t reach an agreement.

There have been a couple of different owners since then, including Mike Garvey of Builders Inc. most recently. Garvey hired Basham to run the theater when he purchased it in 2017.

Garvey, who has since started the Wichita Center for Performing Arts, asked Basham if he’d like to buy the Crown about a month ago.

“I’ve always been interested in this space,” Basham says.

He’s been involved in the Wichita theater scene for years, working in various capacities with almost every major theater company in the city.

Basham says he plans to add more theatrical shows, perhaps even whole seasons, to the venue. Lately, it has focused more on concerts, banquets and weddings.

“I like the business of show business, and I like being able to offer all types of entertainment,” Basham says.

He says Garvey made a lot of improvements to the Crown, such as adding good lighting and a “killer sound system.”

There are a few things left to do, Basham says, “but really, everything’s in great shape here.”

“Mike did a great job on upgrading the facility.”

Other than adding more theater, Basham says he has one big goal.

“I want to try to make this space relevant again to the city,” he says.

Longtime Crown customers “finally have gotten over the fact that we’re not a dinner theater anymore.”

Basham says he wants the Crown to be known as the top place for entertainment.

“I want people to think of us first.”

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