Performance & Entertainment Venue

Roxy’s Downtown ready for its close-up

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Rich Bruhn, left, directs Ben Balleau in a rehearsal for “Plaid Tidings.” Photo Jeff Templin

Rich Bruhn, left, directs Ben Balleau in a rehearsal for “Plaid Tidings.” Photo Jeff Templin

BY BOB CURTRIGHT

Eagle correspondent

November 21, 2014 02:47 PM

John Hammer is convinced that the rebirth of Roxy’s Downtown – launching Friday with the holiday musical “Plaid Tidings” – was something that was serendipitously meant to be.

For one thing, Hammer says, the timing couldn’t have been better. Back in May when Cabaret Oldtown, Wichita’s popular downtown performance space for the past 22 years, quietly went on the market, he finally realized that, even though he loved the company he worked for, he had burned out on the corporate rat race.

“I’ve always been more of a creative type than a corporate guy, even though I learned a lot of valuable lessons about making large things happen through long hours with a creative team and using healthy competition to find innovative solutions,” says Hammer, a Wichita native and set designer who pursued a career with 3-D software company Autodesk, which helped make such movies as “Avatar” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”

“But I was feeling overwhelmed without much opportunity for a social life. I was Googling early one morning when I saw that Cabaret Oldtown…