THE NEW screen at the Village Players Theater will give movie-goers a high definition experience. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
January 16, 2014WOLFEBORO — Patrons of the Village Players are used to seeing some fantastic works on the stage of the group's Wolfeboro theater.
While that's not changing, the Village Players are offering up a new and exciting option for local residents.
Starting this weekend, one weekend a month will feature films on the theater's new high definition movie theater projection system.
Village Players board member Jim Adams is a big movie buff and took a leading role in getting films to the theater, but it was longtime Village Players member Michael Wilkes who really got the ball rolling at a board meeting just about a year ago.
"Michael asked, what can we do to up the profile of the theater," Adams said. "And we also talked about putting butts in the seats more than three times a year."
Adams said that they kicked around the idea of showing movies, noting that the closest movie theaters to Wolfeboro are a good drive away in either Gilford, Rochester or North Conway.
However, when Wilkes passed away suddenly early last year, the idea of movies kind of fell to the wayside.
Then lightning struck. Literally.
The Village Players building, located on Glendon Street in Wolfeboro, was struck by lightning while the cast of Hello… Is There Any Body There? was rehearsing for the summer show.
The lightning strike did some major damage to the theater's wiring system and the Village Players board took that as a sign.
"We took that as Michael saying 'just get off your butt and do it,'" Adams said.
The lightning strike hastened the decision to redo the lighting and sound systems in the theater in honor of Wilkes and the board agreed to install the new movie screen as part of the project.
Member Christian Boudman got the ball rolling, researching the screen and projectors that would be needed. They settled on a 16-by-nine-foot screen that fills almost the entire opening of the theater's stage.
And because the screen is retractable and comes down right at the curtain area, sets being constructed on the stage won't be affected by the movies and those coming to see the movies won't have sets distracting them from the film.
The new lighting system was installed in time for the fall production of Fiddler on the Roof and the sound system, screen and projector were installed after the musical closed its run.
At the group's annual meeting in December, the first showing took place on the new screen.
"Everyone really loved it," Adams said. "I don't think they were expecting it."
At the Village Players Christmas party in December, they showed White Christmas on the new movie screen, again to rave reviews.
Board members Jay Sydow and Cate Poole did the research on distributors, looking to figure out just what kind of paperwork and fees the group would need to go through in order to show the movies.
They found Swank Motion Pictures.
"They set up a great deal with them that made it affordable for us," Adams said.
That was an important part of the process, as the entire idea of bringing films to the theater was to keep things relatively inexpensive, yet still cover the costs.
"We didn't want it to be expensive," Adams said. "Just enough to cover our costs."
For Adams, the idea was to just expand the reach of the theater.
"Hopefully it will drum up interest in the theater," Adams said. "Maybe it will get people interested in coming to some of the shows as well as the movies."
The movie committee, headed up by Adams and including Sydow, Poole, Boudman and Priscilla Adams, went through Swank's list of movies and found tons of great choices.
"We're trying to keep in family friendly," Adams said. "We thought that it should be stuff people haven't seen on the big screen.
"It's a different experience when you see it with a large group of people," he continued.
In the first year, the experiment will involve one weekend a month, with two showings each weekend. The movies won't interfere with the continued stage productions that the Village Players put on each year.
"We're just utilizing the theater year round," Adams said. "And that helps with the shows. One is feeding the other, that's what the hope is."
The movie experience will feature some of the same things people are used to at the theater, including popcorn and water for sale.
Additionally, there will be an added experience, as Adams will serve as the movie host, introducing the film and answering questions after. There will also be a preview running before the film advertising the theater's upcoming shows.
The movies will run Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. throughout the year, with a different movie showing each month.
For January, the film is the Wizard of Oz and it runs this weekend, Jan. 18 and 19. February brings Casablanca on Feb. 15 and 16 and March has the Hitchcock classic North by Northwest on March 15 and 16. Singing in the Rain will be the next show on April 19 and 20, followed by the Fred Astaire musical Royal Wedding on May 17 and 18. The 80s classic Back to the Future will light up the screen on June 21 and 22, with Steven Spielberg's Jaws hitting the screen on July 19 and 20. The George Lucas classic American Graffiti will play on Aug. 16 and 17 and Some Like it Hot featuring Marilyn Monroe is on the screen Sept. 20 and 21. To be determined horror classics will be shown on Oct. 18, with On Golden Pond showing on Nov. 29 and 30. The movie season wraps up with Polar Express on Dec. 20 and 21. Tickets for any of the shows are just $5.
Anyone looking for information on the movies or on the three live shows coming to the Village Players theater this year can visit the theater's web site at village-players.com.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.