Remember that scene in “Grease” when Danny Zuko (John Travolta) was bragging to his friends (in a song way too potty-mouthed to be in a PG-rated movie) about what an amazing car his old jalopy would be after they fixed it up in auto shop class? A patron recently commented that our humble, wee movie loft’s 7-year transformation was a lot like that of Zuko’s “Greased Lightning.” However, this was one of those times where you have to accept a compliment while at the same time politely rejecting the package in which it was delivered, as the analogy was too flawed to let ride.
I kindly explained that the Cape Ann Community Cinema was never a hunk of junk like Zuko’s death trap––or a Sandy Olsson, for that matter––in need of a total makeover to make it attractive or useful to anyone. Granted, we have gotten by with a lot of “previously loved” items––couches, fixtures, and the bric-a-brac paddywhack decor––but that contributes to the charm. After all, isn’t it appropriate that a place in which people come together to watch hundreds of stories every year be populated by a collection of hundreds of things with stories of their own?
The room alone tells countless stories. That pink wingback armchair? It belonged to someone’s late mother, and it serves as a loving comfort to them with every visit. That hoosier cabinet that now dispenses our popcorn toppings of many lands? With it, someone else’s grandmother taught them how to make pies. So with every item that finds its way to us and with every story someone feels comfortable enough to share during their time here, the mojo that makes us is made a little more magical.
We’d rather you compare us to the ginger gem Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) in “Pretty In Pink.” She was focused, independent, and could make something grand out of nearly nothing. She, like us, also hung out over a record store. We, however, would have tried a little tenderness and ditched the richie-rich, stuffed-Izod shirt Blaine (Andrew McCarthy) in favor of letting the lovable dork Duckie (Jon Cryer) take us to the prom.
Our humble, wee movie loft’s 7-year transformation continues. We hit a grand slam this past summer with the HarborWalk Summer Cinema, and are making plans for an encore in 2015. We helped some friends in Lowell open a community cinema of their own, The Luna Theater at Mill No. 5. And thanks to the generosity of our regular patrons and a local foundation, the technical improvements to our projection and sound are now complete. And we are also looking into converting our upstairs lobby into a small screening room so that we can officially be a miniplex.
The most obvious change this year (apart from the monolithic, center-of-the-room “hush box” in which the new, probably self-aware projector lives) is in our name. While “Cape Ann Community Cinema” was certainly very explanatory, our new name, which better reflects the scope of what we offer, is “The Cape Ann Cinema & Stage,” with the tag line, “Couches. Community. Culture.”
Why “Stage”? Because in case you haven’t seen it yet, we now have a 30′ performance stage, complete with thoroughly modern theatrical lighting. While we are still 95% movies, we do occasionally host music, comedy, and theater, all of which will come together in December when we present Tom Lehrer’s “Tomfoolery” (see below). Like our Cinema, this show is homegrown, by local folks, with local folks, for local folks. It’s a hilarious show, and we hope you are able to join us for it.
Before that, of course, there’s this, our 7th Annual Cape Ann Film Festival––43 films in 18 days with special guests and events. Yes, we have always programmed year-round like we are a film festival that never ends, but we still like to let loose every November and share with the world a Whitman’s Sampler of who we are and what we do in one relatively short burst.
So scour these digital pages of pure, cinematic joy like it were the Sears or Spiegel catalog, make your “watch list” like you were writing to Santa Claus, and let us entertain, enlighten, and enrich you with the gift of film in the comfort of this wonderful place that we have all created together.