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Bohm Theatre in Albion ready to ‘pack the house out’ again

Historic Bohm Theatre lost hundreds of thousands of dollars since shutdown began but they believe live performances will be their ‘bread and butter’ in the future
Posted at 11:09 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 23:09:30-04

ALBION, Mich. — Donisha Brewer loves to sing, she said.

She grew up singing in her church, and has acted, danced and been involved in the creative and performing arts for most of her life.

Now, she sings live with local bands like Cliff and the Big Red Dogs and A Good Thang Going. Thursday afternoon they practiced Tracy Chapman's ‘Give Me One Reason’ at one of her favorites places, the Bohm Theatre.

“We pack the house out, that’s for sure,” Brewer said during an interview with FOX 17. “I’ve just done a couple of Blues at the Bohm’s but normally this place is pretty packed.”

Blues at the Bohm is a monthly blues show held at the almost 100-year-old theater that was known as the 'arts and culture jewel' of Albion, said interim executive director Shane Williamson.

However, lately, there hasn’t been a production or performance at the venue in five months since the shutdown began in mid-March.

And, it’s been hard, they said.

“It’s actually pretty devastating because our community kind of relies on the arts and music,” Brewer said. “We’re a very very creative community.”

Williamson agreed.

He said they understood why The Bohm, which rhymes with the word ‘home,’ had to close. But, it still hurt.

“What we thought was how are we going to help our performers? How are we going to help our artists, our local people who depend on this place to put food on their tables?” Williamson said. “So we committed very early on to being an institution that was going to revision and repackage our material.”

Williamson said they began streaming their productions online or holding them outdoors. They also rented out the venue to private groups and allowed people to show movies on their movie theater screens.

However, it still wasn’t enough financially.

“We run about a $400,000 operating budget and we know we’re taking over $150,000 to $200,000 hit this year,” Williamson said. “It’s staggering. It’s scary.”

Williamson said most of their revenue came from movie ticket sales. However, he believes the best way forward will be live performances. So they’re keeping a close eye on the governor's orders.

And, they’ve already got social-distancing plans in place, he said.

“Everyone’s retooling and figuring out how we’re going to do this,” Williamson said. “But, we know that after this is over, what we see on the stage today is going to be the bread and butter for this theater moving forward.”