I talked more with John Command the other day about his new musical theater company, "Command Performance." Nothing is definite but it sounded like there is a deal to be made between this venture and the Burnsville Center for the Performing Arts. Both sides have a lot to gain. Command gets a chance to stick it to the folks at Bloomington who eased him out of the troupe he rebuilt over 12 years. Burnsville gets an anchor tenant for a 1,000-seat auditorium.
Command, who otherwise sounded gracious toward his artistic successors at Bloomington, said at one point in our conversation, "I’ve got 4,500 season ticket holders who will follow me." He talked about doing four shows a year and at 65 he still has the energy of a man 20 years younger.
The wild card in all this is VenuWorks, the Iowa company that manages Burnsville. VenuWorks owner Steve Peters is part of a consortium currently preparing a purchase deal for Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Would Peters feel he’s competing with himself by bringing Command into Burnsville or is this the old "the more the merrier" idea of building audiences?
Chanhassen has a slightly different patron -- people in search of an event. Command’s shadow will loom larger over Bloomington and the people he entertained for a dozen years. Were they going to the Bloomington Art Center because it was convenient or because they had the chance to see a John Command show?
We will start to see the answers if the Burnsville deal does in fact go down.