Over the past few years, especially around the time that the Pandemic made its mark around the end of the first quarter of 2020, having people going out to attend events with others present has seen its share of ups and downs.
Of course, things have changed since that same Pandemic and all of its emergencies and cautions have faded into memories that can either be seen as nostalgic or harrowing, depending on how one lived through all of that mask wearing and overall hunkering down–for its better or for its worse!
One element that has seen a shift in activity is the simple task at going outside of one’s home for visual entertainment. Among the many things one can do for that overall amusement is going out to a local or regional movie theater to take part in watching content, or as most commonly known as watching a feature film on the big screen.
Of course, this form of entertainment has been around for over one hundred years. But for a long time, that was the only method to do that if one wanted to see a new(er) film from Hollywood, unless one is parting with an “art” movie made in some country where English isn’t the primary language or in a nation that isn’t the USA.
Recently, people who were forced to stay home during the lockdown found alternative methods to experience a movie going experience. They set up theaters of their own inside of their domains. Thanks to the drop in prices in big screen TV devices, especially one that boasted screen sizes of 60” or more or projection devices that can project a screen size of 100”, as well as having a booming sound system hooked up to their visual companions, having a movie house setting at home was not only great, but just a lot better for the user. It was cheaper to view movies at home than going through the elements of trekking to a movie house! One didn’t even have to be at a theater at a certain time to catch whatever may be playing there. You can start the movie up anytime, be it at 3:17 PM, or 3:17 AM. If one was inside of a movie house, there was the chance of experiencing annoying patrons talking (rather loudly at times) during the flick, and even having others play with their phones during the feature! If you do that at home, it’s not as bothersom!
But perhaps one factor to note was the price of admission. Here in Los Angeles, one would have to pony up anywhere between $15.00 and $23.00 per adult person depending on what movie house one is attending. If anyone wanted concessions, it would cost one as well. At a local theater near this writer’s homestead and run by the AMC movie chain, admission to a standard feature cost $18.50 per adult. The smallest sized container of popcorn runs around $9.00, and the standard size cup of soda pop is around $6.00 with unlimited refills. So if one wanted to do the math for a single person for a movie, small popcorn and soda, that would run at $33.50. And one had to get to the movie house in the first place. One has to drive their vehicle there. If there was a bus line running near the movie house, one could do that just costing bus fare. If you were walking distance, one can use their feet. At least that method of transportation is free.
AMC recently announced that they will have “tier ticket pricing” in the same vein as getting a ticket for a live event appearing in a larger theater or stadium. The better view seating would be more than a seat father away from the stage setting. The “cheap seats” are usually located on a balcony, or the farthest away from where one views the action on stage/screen.
In a movie theater, it’s rather different. The choice seats tend to be in the middle of the theater about halfway between the front to where the screen is and the back to where the projection booth would normally be located.
Starting later this year and rolling out through the next few weeks, AMC will add a dollar or two to its ticket price if one wants to grab a set in its “sweet spots”. (Middle-center) If one wanted the lower price, one has to sit farther back or within the front rows to where the screen is located.
This is rather true since yours truly has seen this method of seating when attending a screening of a feature inside of a movie house. This is even noticed further when the screening is rather sparsely attended. Everyone tends to cluster in the middle center. A few watch from the far back rows. However, the seating within the first three rows are at little to none in attendance. People tend to watch a flick in the same manner as watching it on a TV device. That is, in the center of the screen within a rather comfortable distance from the screen where the visuals show the viewing area in a rectangular viewpoint–a screen size at 1:85:1 in ratio dimension viewed within a darken border around the screen.
AMC hopes that this surcharge will make up for the loss of attendance many movie houses are experiencing due to the backlash of the Pandemic, as well as the companionship of home theaters and the available content provided through various video streaming services out in the field.
This is even more true for specific demographics who attend movies houses. Those aged 30 and younger have been flocking back to theaters. Middle aged people (aged from 30’s and 40’s), are also coming back, but not in the same way as their younger cohorts. Those that are aged 50 and up are the ones that are staying away. This is the age where one would most likely have a home theater set up and are the most frustrated from the content available, as well as not being able to put up with the annoyances.
Generally speaking (or writing in this case), the age known as the latter “Gen-Xers” and just about all of the “Baby Boomers” only go to the movies as a special occasion. And once they stayed away due to the Pandemic lockdowns now long lifted, they ain’t coming back!
This may have been connected toward the reason why AMC, as well as other theater chains, offer special discounted admission prices for the recent Paramount release 80 For Brady, since this feature’s targeted audience are of those that are baby-boomer age. This is even true since Paramount teamed up with AARP to market the movie through social media (Facebook mostly as many boomers are on Facebook), as well as their print publications. (The cast consisting of Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sally Field, and Rita Moreno made the cover of the February/March, 2023 issue of AARP The Magazine, pushing the notion that this movie was about “…(Female) friendship, fun and why they’re crushing on–guess who?” (An actual quote of the byline for the cover story article.)
But even with this pricing going up or down, one has to ask if anyone is going to the movies? The answer is a simple “yes”! As of this writing, Disney’s Avalon: The Way of Water is already the sixth biggest worldwide grossing movie of all time, and may surpass the biggest domestic grossing movie released in the 2022 calendar year. (Top Gun: Maverick, also from Paramount, holds that title as the movie that racked in the biggest bucks from theaters in the USA and Canada.)
Again, it’s all going to depend on the movie that people desire to see, especially if it’s a remake/reboot/re-imagining, a sequel, or another superhero/comic book picture. Ditto for family friendly animation. A comedy can withstand depending how funny it is and who’s making it comical. As for drama? One may be better off taking an appearance on somebody’s home theater as that genre is better suited for viewing through those means. Then again, just about any movie can be at its best at home. And if one wanted to “Netflix and Chill”, one can do that as well without heading toward the balcony and hope that an usher won’t catch you two NOT watching the movie! Or so it seems that way….
Performing at the Odyssey Theater as a visiting production is THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW, John Patrick Shanley’s one act play about a shivved young man, his ex-girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s dad that form an odd triangle of sorts as they all look upon their current state of being that they are all facing at the moment.
James Liddell is Tommy, a twenty-seven young man that lives in a run down flat somewhere in New York City. He is an artist of sorts, but spends much of his time sitting in a run down lounge chair that is ready for a space in the alley, unless that chair was pulled from there. His only companion is a run down mini-fridge full of canned beer. He just broke up with his girlfriend Donna (Pamela Portnoy), a street smart woman from “The Heights”. Donna’s rather upset with Tommy. Not from his being a no talent artist, but he’s been “doing” her younger sixteen year old sister! Tommy’s lifestyle is rather reflective of Donna’s father (Eric Larson), who lead a life similar to Tommy’s. He cheated on his wife, spent too much time drinking, and quit painting when his wife finally died. Now these three are coming to terms with one another as Tommy and Donna are completing their full circle with the somewhat aid of dear ol’ dad!
This play written by John Patrick Shanley (his fourth) is loaded with dialogue that makes up for its minimal action that appears on the stage. The three speak not to each other, but at each other, the way that so-called dysfunctional families should act. But this isn’t a play about families, and it’s far from being a romantic comedy even though the humor is rather unique for what it holds. (It does offer a terrific punch line!!)
The three players appearing in this program mesh rather well. James Liddell is the slacker that is lucky enough to live in an apartment in New York based on what he did to deserve the life he presently leads. Pamela Portnoy is Donna is the sassy hardass type from the mean streets that NYC is famous (or infamous) for. And Eric Larson as “Dad” is a man that knew of his faults. But those same faults were in the past, and he’s willing to go forward for what he has left.
Anne Kathryn Parma directs this show as a tight seventy-five minute stage piece that consist of the three actors that bicker yet they don’t fight per se, although they don’t join forces as a whole until its last scene.
THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW is a play that isn’t a nightmare, but is a play that is funny in nature and its climax may be of a happy one. Whatever the case, it’s a program that holds its wit as well as its drama. And how Tommy got away with dealing with somebody underage isn’t the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s the stuff that makes stage plays something to behold.
THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW, performs at The Oddsey Theater, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd. (between Olympic and Santa Monica Blvds.) until February 26th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 1:00 PM. For tickets and for more information, visit the Odyssey Theater’s website at http://OdysseyTheater.com
A Noise Within of Pasadena presents MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, William Shakespeare’s “rom-com” about false impressions, double dealing, and of course, love!
The setting this time around is Messina, Sicily c. 1943. It’s the period of World War II, and Sicily has just been liberated by the allied forces. Frederick Stuart is Don “The Prince” Pedro, a film star that’s doing his part in the war effort as an enlisted soldier. His companion Claudio (Stanley Andrew Jackson) and Hero (Alexandra Hellquist) appear as one of a pair of romantic couples. Its second pair between Claudio’s pal Benedick (Joshua Bitton) and Hero’s cousin Beatrice (Erika Soto) forms at this tale’s core. The romances between its one and all goes on and off as both of these four carry on with its astons and wordplay! Many episodes leads into others as these romances carry on with their own version of the “merry war” while the rest are out battling in a real war (of sorts) connected with humor, intrigue, high powered comical action, and of course, love!!
This new take of a time tested classic holds many of these honored truths and then some! The back theme to this version of one of The Bard’s beloved creations of jest brings its theme to the middle 20th Century, loaded with characters and situations that range from slapstick farce, zippy hilarity, and comical situations with touches of drama and of course, love! Much of what appears on the stage is very reminiscent to a Hollywood production that was created around the WWII era that could have been done by MGM (in Technicolor) or Universal (in back & white.) Yes, the entire play uses the words and phrases by its playwright as originally composed, but is geared toward a contemporary audience always playing off a good laugh along with its leads going through their romantic conflicts. They keep their place in gear with the ever desire quest for love!!
The cast that appear in this production includes Rafael Goldstein as Don John, Jeanne Syquia as Margaret, Nick Perroccione as Balthasar and Ursula, Tony Pasqualini as Leonato, Westley Mann as Dogberry/Antonio, Randy Thompson as Conrade/Friar Francis, Michael Uribes as Borachio, along with Alejandro Hernandez and Arely Vianet in ensemble spots. (Some of the players appear in double roles!)
Guillermo Cienfuegos directs this program as a theater piece that is not only comical in nature as well as fast paced in spirit, but brings the notion that Shakespeare sagas are not as stuffy as one may realize. Of course, one may get a bit lost in who is who and where its all going. But fear not! Good ol’ Willy won’t leave anyone off in a loop. Just let the characters carry on to bring its many climaxes to where they lay as there is always a happy ending within a comedy scripted through the pen (quill?) of squire W.S.!
Along with the performers as seen on stage, there are other elements to make note. Angelia Balogh Calin’s scenic design consists of a series of floating pieces that bring the theater audience throughout various locations of this part of liberated Sicily. Christine Cover Ferro’s costuming is also reflected in the period. (Middle 1940’s in this case.) And Joyce Guy’s choreography enhances the spirit of all of the banter that this program brings out. This even includes the musical interludes that are played between scenes that use a mix of the transcribed tuneful sounds of Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, and Raymond Scott. (Chris Moscatiello is in charge of sound design.)
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING isn’t about “nothing” as the title term came from a phrase that once meant “gossip”. But one will get plenty of that “nothing” as this ANW stage piece has it all: Comedy, fast paced action, and of course, love!
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, presented by and performs at A Noise Within, 3352 East Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, until March 12th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM with matinees Saturday and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Special “talk backs” with the cast takes place following every Friday evening performance.
For tickets and for more details, call (626) 356-3100, or via online at http://www.ANoiseWithin.org
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