Live theater remains the focus at the Woodstock Opera House, but a new big screen has brought a modern twist to the historic theater.
The new year includes a lineup of a wide variety of films audiences might not expect, along with the offering of light snacks and beverages for the first time at the theater. The films will be shown on the theater’s 22-foot wide screen, which stretches across the 24-foot wide stage.
“It does give the impression of filling the whole stage. … We get a lot of people who don’t understand exactly what we’re doing,” Woodstock Opera House Director Daniel Campbell said of the new film offerings. “We are still trying to get the word out."
Films range from a recent showing of the classic musical “42nd Street” – as filmed live in 2018 at London’s Theatre Royal – to a series of films celebrating “Great Art on Screen,” the Oscars, cult classics and the holidays.
Among the films coming up are “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Feb. 20), “Gone with the Wind” (March 12), “Casablanca” (April 9) and “Citizen Kane” (May 7).
In the fall, plans are underway for a cult classic series with films such as “The Big Lebowski,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Jaws,” Campbell said. And after that, he said, a series of holiday films will be shown.
“My thought was I wanted to do something with film, but I didn’t want to compete with places like Classic Cinemas or first-run theaters,” he said.
That’s why the partnership with National Theatre Live was a natural fit for the Opera House.
On Feb. 23, a cinema broadcast of the ballet, “Giselle,” as performed by the Bolshoi Ballet, will be shown.
The “Great Art on Screen” series — starting Feb. 13 with “The Prado Museum: A Collection of Wonders” — will feature documentary-style films. Future films will depict the lives of artists such as Monet and Renoir.
The Opera House began showing films last April, drawing roughly 75 to 100 people per showing.
“Certainly, we have more capacity, but it’s new and something different and something a lot of people haven’t had a chance to try yet,” he said. “I think it’s building in popularity as we go. I think we have room to grow, but I’m very happy with the results so far.”
With this year’s schedule, as well as the addition of light snacks and beverages, Campbell hopes to draw even more. Historically, the Opera House has never allowed food and drink inside the theater, but the demand is there, he said.
The films typically are shown on weekdays, while weekends remain devoted to live theater, Campbell said.
“We’ve been around for 130 years,” he said. “I think it’s something to do to keep up with the times. It’s not meant to supplant our live performances, but just to be another addition to what we already do at the Opera House...
“This was an opportunity to bring some new programming to the Opera House, particularly a way to incorporate 21st technology into our historic theater.”
To learn more, visit www.woodstockoperahouse.com or call 815-338-5300.