I recently had a revelation while streaming a movie at home: I didn't enjoy the movie at all. My phone was buzzing every few minutes. The dog was barking at something outside. Things were rattling in the kitchen. The cat jumped off my keyboard stool and knocked it over. Sheesh. It was a waste of money and time. It's no fun watching a movie if you have to stop it ten times to wait for the noise to subside. I'm one of those who must be immersed in a film to gain anything from it - even if it's only two hours of release and escape.
In fact, that's one of the reasons I enjoy the cinema. You may have noticed that film studios are now starting to include celebrity thank-you's before the start of the movie. There are two reasons for this: 1) box office sales have been in decline the last couple years; and 2) filmmakers create stories that are intended to be experienced on a big screen.
Movie-going is a relief. I truly relax when I am at the movies, experiencing something with others. No distractions, no calls, no emails and no texts. I am into the experience. The elated feeling I can't get watching anything at home because at home I'm still tethered. The cinema is a curated space for the experience of film, even if it's just a great action flick.
Destress, decompress. Come down for a while. Escape for a couple hours. Have fun.
I was pleased when a local patron told me that one of her 2019 goals was to get out and see more movies and stage productions. I don't know what led to that decision, but something told me it was going to be good.
"Nana's Naughty Knickers" plays January 25-27. This is the point at which tickets sell out fast. Don't wait. Because I've been listening to rehearsal, and, well, it's going to be a hoot. (For mature audiences only, please.) Go to the Stage page to purchase your tickets, or call 382-1380 and we'll get you set up.
See you then!
We're not running a movie New Year's Eve weekend, but we're gearing up for our New Year's Eve party on December 31. We'll start at 6:30 pm with a special showing of the 1973 Academy Award-winning hit, "The Sting." Afterward we'll enjoy a menu of Chicago-style food (setting for the movie) and everyone will receive a flute of champagne for ringing in the new year in sync with New York's ball drop, welcoming 2019. All of this is included in the $20 ticket, although folks interested only in the movie can pay regular admission prices ($9 for adults, $8 for seniors 65+) to see the film. This is an adult event, and you can purchase tickets on the Special Events page, or call the office at 382-1380 for help.
I'll be in a pin-stripe suit, a-la the prohibition 1930's, thanks to our illustrious house costumer, Mary Luce. It's nice to work at a job where half your wardrobe is downstairs. A lot of those clothes have my name on them because I've spent so much time here over the years. Little did I know I was racking up an extra closet.
Anyone else showing up in a suit or "flapper" dress will get a free small popcorn. I love the idea of making events out of movies and just generally having a good time with it. I think the community deserves these kinds of opportunities to let the creative spirits run free. I hope to create more of these opportunities in 2019. A few folks have already asked about the revival of Classic Movie Nights, one version of this kind of thing. Check off your preferences in the survey below.
We'll start films back up on January 4 with the much-anticipated "Bohemian Rhapsody." Even those who've already seen it are lining up to see it again. It's an impressive biographical drama as well as a music experience. Well, it would be; it's Queen, for heaven's sake. I've been joining in the virtual harmonic chorus on "Rhapsody" since I was in junior high school. For heaven's sake.
In other news, we're gearing up to change ticket vendors for the new year. I've been less than satisfied with some aspects of our arrangement with Tix.com, the company that handles ticket sales for us. We are creating a new interface with Arts People, based in Portland. When you click to purchase tickets for the "Show Stoppers!" variety show (March 29-31), you'll see a new integrated ticket purchase page. I believe it will be handier for us here, and more customer-friendly for you. Be on the lookout.
May 2019 be prosperous and peaceful for all of us!
I don't own that title. It belongs to Monty Python. Basically, it means something new is always going on around here, and you don't know what it is until it shows up.
However, long-term planning is necessary in a theater - cinema, live stage or otherwise - so WE know what's coming up before our patrons do. Three new stage productions are on the calendar, and they WILL be fun.
"Nana's Naughty Knickers," our first live comedy of 2019, already sounds like it'll be a bit of Monty Python. Which means you'll laugh and shake your heads at the same time. Snorting might be heard in the auditorium. Tickets are on sale now. Please don't wait until the last minute. (We had sad and sorry would-be customers for "Willy Wonka" who didn't heed our advice.) "Nana" plays January 25-27, and is directed by Bev Startin and Leah Stockton.
The Spring Variety Show is on the schedule for March 29-31! Patti Jo Amerein and Julia Mead are directing. You should stay tuned here for more information, coming soon. I'll wait until then to surprise you with the theme for this year. (Hint: it's going to be superbly full of wonderful memories.)
Finally, auditions for this year's Melodrama, "Peril On the High Seas" are held the first week in February, the first step in preparation for only one weekend of performances, May 10-12. This happens to be Mother's Day weekend, and provides a great opportunity for a unique Mom's Day gift. The show is directed by Meghan Bromley.
All of these events are posted on our Facebook page. "Like" us and you'll receive regular updates on our live shows and movie schedule, which is rolling out like a New Year's train. Speaking of which, join us for the fun at our East Coast New Year's Eve Bash December 31 featuring "The Sting." Buy your tickets now and dust off your costumes!
See you in the lobby...
One of my favorite all-time movies is "The Sting," starring that dynamic duo of cinema, Robert Redford and Paul Newman. We're playing the movie for our New Year's Eve Bash this year. After the movie came out in 1973, I spent all my time doing impressions of Robert Shaw's character, Londagin (the object of the sting operation), and laughing at myself. Glorious days of my youth.
Paul Newman passed on some time ago, but Redford is till around. The question is, is he retired or not? He announced in August that he was retiring, but by then he was in post-production for his latest role in "The Old Man and the Gun." This tells the tale ("mostly true") about the bank robber and prison escape artist Forrest Tucker, who died in prison in 2004. Despite the wrinkles on his face, Redford can still charm his way through a scene like nobody's business. "The Old Man and the Gun" December 14-18. Click on the poster to watch the trailer.
Redford is 82 years old. Clint Eastwood is six years older, at 88. He also said he was going to retire from acting after he finished "Gran Torino" (2008). Now he's appearing in a new film, "The Mule," about an old man who's stuck between a rock and a hard place in his personal and financial life. After he responds to an opportunity to make some extra dough, he finds himself in the horrifying vortex of drug cartels and DEA agents cracking down. He had no idea. But now he has some critical decisions to make. Well. We'll get that film in eventually, too. These are too good to pass up because these guys are screen legends. Who knows but these really are their last film roles?
Retiring from a career is a critical decision. I've made that decision myself. Thing is, Eastwood and Redford still know how to do it. And film goers of all ages are enjoying these guys in films past and present.
Following the conclusion of our successful run of "Willy Wonka" December 8, we will return to cinema on December 14 with "Old Man" and follow it up with "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms" December 21-23 - a breathtaking new variation on a classic holiday story. Visit our Cinema page for more info.
Meanwhile, please plan to join us for a fun New Year's Eve party. We'll begin at 6:30 Dec. 31 with "The Sting" and ring in the new year with champagne at 9:00 pm - allowing us to synchronize with New York's ball drop at midnight and still get a good night's sleep.
Those of us with any stage experience have probably learned the hard truth about that phrase: "the show must go on."
In 2003 I played the role of the Scarecrow in our production of "The Wizard of Oz." In those days we would pack up the entire show, costumes, sets and all, and take it to Waitsburg for performance on the high school stage.
In the days prior to that last show, I started to get sick. Really, really sick. I didn't have an understudy, so I hastened to the local doctor and got drugs.
But by then it was too late to do any good. By the time of the performance, I had no singing voice. Heck, I barely had any voice at all. I felt like I'd been run over. I had gotten run down (over)playing the part, and there was nothing left.
But (yes, here it is), the show must go on. It simply has to do. It did not occur to me to report that I was too sick to do the last show. People had paid good money to see it. You can't do "Oz" without a Scarecrow.
So, I did the show with the 5% reserves I had left. My friend Dan Nechodom (Tinman) wasn't feeling much better. We strategically kept two bottles of Chloraseptic off stage right and left, and sprayed our mouths after each exit just to keep from passing out from the pain of trying to sing.
After the show I went home, fell into bed, and didn't get up for three days.
And I'd do it all over again. (And I have, many times.)
The group of people who come together to do a live musical production put in untold hours of time and incredible amounts of sacrificial energy to put on a show. It's hard work. And worth every minute when comes show time.
So, please, do yourself a favor and buy tickets to see "Willy Wonka" Nov. 15-Dec. 8. It's magical and there's nothing like it in the world.
"We are the Music Makers. We are the Dreamers of Dreams." --Willy Wonka
Now that we have finished this year's live concert series, we're looking forward to the advent of the great chocolate factory - Raold Dahl's Willy Wonka is this year's live musical production. Shows begin November 15 and the cast and crew are working their oompa-loompa's off to put this fun and magical show together admist streams of glorious creamy chocolate.
Thanks to everyone who has supported all our live concerts this season! We have seen terrific guitar artists and heard transportive voices. We have enjoyed folk, jazz, American Western and even a bit of fusion in styles. Sundae & Mr. Goessl, from Seattle, have promised to return, as has Dave Stamey, who performed again to a sold-out crowd on October 18.
I have been part of the musical production life of the Liberty Theater since 2002. Every year is unique, not only in the story, but in the crew and performers who come together to put on an amazing show for a 130-seat auditorium. We have folks from as far away as Seattle who come "home" every year to the charm and small-town intimacy of the Liberty. We are proud to have become a tradition in the lives of so many around the holidays.
If you haven't purchased tickets yet for "Willy Wonka," please do it NOW. Every year we have to turn away folks who are looking for seats to sold-out shows. Also, we've added an extra show to the line-up: December 6th, our Encore Family Night performance, where all seats will be $10 per person. Go to the Stage Production page and carefully select your tickets. You won't regret it.
(Yes, I eat chocolate. Dark, Equadorian, 72-80% pure cacao. Just saying.
I want to highlight a few things we're doing at the Liberty to enhance our service to the community.
We have had assistive listening devices for the hearing impaired for a while now; but now we have a pair of new headphones that feature an assisted narration voice for the visually impaired. The entire film is concisely but fully described, and you are able to hear the film soundtrack as well. The volumes of each are adjustable to your taste. A nice feature! I took these for a test-drive myself, and it was a cool experience to close my eyes and listen to the film!
We now also have four closed-caption readers. These fit right into your seat cup holders. They have a long flexible neck for adjusting to the perfect position for you. They are non-intrusive, so the folks next to you won't notice a thing.
Ask for these when you come into a movie and we'll fix you right up.
In the Concession Department, we now have a few tasty low-sugar or gluten-free alternatives. We recognize that some (myself included) will look for things with no added sugar or other additives. We have salted cashews, fruit bars (no added sugars) and granola bars. We will add other things in the future. We appreciate your feedback!
If you haven't purchased your tickets for Dave Stamey in concert Thursday, October 18, do it now while there are still tickets available! This cowboy gentleman has more Western Music awards than an owl has hoots. He's here for only one night. Show starts at 7:00 pm and tickets are $20. (See the "Live Concerts" page to purchase tickets.) Wine and beer will also be available for sale.
Thanks for your support of the Liberty Theater and its mission to promote arts and culture in our community!
Allow me, please, to wax philosophical.
Just kidding. Allow me to share my experience of watching movies.
Did I say "movies." Maybe I should have said "cinema." That sounds more high-brow.
Except some movies don't feel high-brow. They don't even feel like art.
Isn't all film some sort of art? You've watched Werner Herzog documentaries (or, if you haven't, maybe you should. They're fascinating things). You've watched inspiring sports dramas based on real events. Nora Ephron was an artist. Ever see "Phenomenon" or "Michael"? John Williams still is an artist. He's the film composer behind most, if not all, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas films.
Some films are just fun to watch. They're pure entertainment, even if the CG stuff is dazzling. But "Leave No Trace" feels more like art to me. Manhattan Short Film Festival is pure cinematic art.
Such an experience has brought many of our audiences at the Liberty back to see the same artists, the same performers, and even reprise shows. This is true of the two artists (actually three) we are bringing back in October. The first, Sundae + Mr. Goessl (Kate Voss and Jason Goessl), were last here in April of this year. In a relatively small venue such as the Liberty, the experience is intimate and the performance is a dialogue. No audience is passive here. The second, Dave Stamey, I have not seen in his previous appearance on our stage, but the room was packed then and I believe it will be again. Quite apart from the beer or wine we serve at these special events (which just adds to the enjoyment), listening, watching and taking part are all pieces of the experience. In fact, performers in occasions like this demand the audience be part of the moment. No performer finds energy for the music without an audience to play off of. In a powerful way, music is actually created in the moment. Ever think about that?
Sundae and her amazing husband-guitarist, Mr. Goessl, will be here Friday, October 12 at 7 pm. Dave Stamey will be here a week later, Thursday, October 18 at 7 pm. One will be a jazz experience, the other an American Cowboy experience. Either way, you'll have a chance to help create the music. See you then.