Permanent choice for Admiral’s helm
August 3, 2012 · Updated 11:26 AM
The Admiral Theater will open its 2012-13 season with a new director taking center stage.
Brian Johnson has been named executive director for the theater. Johnson said he is honored to have been chosen for the position and looks forward to another successful season with the theater.
Johnson grew up in the area and attended Olympic High School in Bremerton, and although he became involved in programming for the theater almost by accident, he has come to love the work and does not want to do anything else.
“My first real assignment I was sent to a booking conference and I really had no idea what was good or not good,” he said. “Now I know in 30 seconds if an act will be popular here and whether the local community will like it or not.”
He said he has seen programming change over the years for the theater and he feels the current offerings at the theater offer a wider range of entertainment than in past seasons.
“When we first started programming, the audience was looking for true performing arts such as theater, classical music and classical dance,” he said.
He said an Abba tribute act called Bjorn Again was booked by mistake, but people loved it and the theater booked a second show by the group and incidents such as this began a change in scope for booking shows
“Now we work towards offering both classical artistic performances and more popular shows,” he said.
Brain Buskirk, President of the Board of Directors for the Admiral Theater, said Johnson was not only the logical choice to assume the position, he was the only choice.
“In my opinion, as well as rest of the board’s, there was no other choice,” Buskirk said. “He has been running the theater for the last year and a half while the prior director was on sabbatical. It seemed like a natural progression - he has been choosing program for some time and he knows what theater goers are looking for.”
Johnson said the new season will offer a mixture with acts ranging from the Nutcracker on Dec. 7 and Dec. 9 to Wilson Phillips on Dec. 14.
Johnson said he has confidence in all of this year’s programming for the theater, and said each performance holds the possibility of something unexpected.
One of the most memorable such performances was Bobby McFerrin, Johnson said.
“Right in the middle of a show, he heard voices from the back and he figures out that there are choir members from Olympic College in the audience,” Johnsons said. “He got them all on stage and conducted this vocal master class with them, it was great.”
The theater has also seen its fair share of show business moments, Johnson said. He said Charlton Heston had been booked as a last-minute replacement for Robert Wagner for a play titled “Love Letters.”
The show was scheduled after controversial statements made by Heston in the wake of the Columbine Shootings in Colorado, and Johnson said the Secret Service and personal security had descended on the theater while hundreds of media outlets had called seeking interviews with Heston.
On the night of the show, as staff was preparing to set up the theater for dinner, Johnson said Heston walked out on the stage making a request while still in his underwear.
“He was asking for milk because we had cookies backstage but forgot the milk,” Johnson said.
Such moments were just a part of the long history of a theater that had been a landmark in the community since opening as a movie house in 1942, Johnson said.
Johnson said the theater has always received strong support from the community and feels the new season will continue to serve that community.
Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent said the theater remains a landmark and an artistic cornerstone to the community.
She said the history and tradition behind Admiral Theater made it one of the first projects chosen by the city towards revitalization efforts downtown.
“It was among first things we began on,” Lent said. “We had the boardwalk started and when we took a look at downtown we decided it should be one of the first things we should bring back and it remains a cornerstone of the revitalization to this day.”
Lent said the theater continues to serve the community on multiple levels.
“Since then it has been a showcase for the arts in Bremerton, and we have been able to keep tickets affordable for Navy personnel and others who can’t afford big tickets prices.”
For more information on the upcoming season contact the theater at 360-373-6743 or visit the theater’s website at www.admiraltheatre.org.
“The Admiral Theater is a tremendous asset to the community,” Lent said. “It continues to enhance the quality of life in Bremerton and beyond.”