’Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house, creatures were coming in droves to see The Hobbit. And everybody was pretty happy, except for a Cinema Elf called Cellulloyd (Lloyd for short.)
The truth was, Lloyd had been lost in an elfin slumber since the Nelson Civic Theatre went dark three years ago. Now, out in the lobby there arose such a clatter he sprang from his bed to see what was the matter. And what to his wondering eyes should appear but — a theatre full of moviegoers!
Lloyd was grumpy as anyone would be when abruptly awakened from a long winter’s nap. He stood, blinking, wondering what could be causing all this prancing and pawing and general excitability.
“If they could all just keep it down,” he grumbled, “an elf could get a little shuteye now and then.”
But the people kept coming, and the seats — it occurred to Lloyd that when he’d rolled himself up in a theatre curtain back in ’09, there hadn’t been seats — kept filling up.
“They’re rattling their popcorn bags,” he snarled with a sneer, looking less elfin and more grinchly by the minute.
“It’s almost showtime; it’s practically here!” Then he growled, with his elf-fingers nervously drumming. “I must find some way to keep showtime from coming!”
“There’s only one thing to do,” he muttered, and off he went to look for Mono, the old speaker who lived behind the screen.
“If I can just get Mono to garble the sound, they’ll all leave and I can get some peace,” he said to himself.
“It’s worked before.”
But Mono wasn’t there. As the house-lights dimmed, Lloyd heard a sound like a chorus of angels. “What could it be?” he asked himself, and as he listened in wonder he heard someone say, “Wow. Isn’t this Dolby Surround Sound great?”
“Who is this Dolby, and what has he done with my old friend Mono?” wondered Lloyd with growing alarm.
Millie would know.
The narrow, winding stairs to the old projection booth were just as Lloyd remembered; at the top would be his old friend the 35mm projector, as lovely as any fading movie star.
“If I can get Millie to overheat,” thought Lloyd, “Or even break her film, they’ll all go home and I can get a good night’s sleep after all.”
At the top of the stairs, Lloyd stopped dead. The old projector was gone! “Who are you? And what have you done with Millie!?” cried Lloyd.
“I’m Christie,” said the small black box. “Millie’s the projector of Christmas Past; I’m the projector of Christmas present — and future.”
Lloyd folded his arms. “Stop mixing metaphors,” he said. “We’re working with The Night Before Christmas.”
“You started it with that Grinch stuff,” countered Christie. “Anyway, the show’s about to begin. Climb up,” she said kindly, “I may be digital, but I’m still warm. Make yourself comfortable.”
There was nothing Lloyd could do: the movie was starting, and he realized it had been far too long since he’d seen the big screen lit up.
When the film began, “What a picture,” he breathed. “Crystal clear! And what sound! It was never like this before. And — hey, what are those things?”
“Hobbits,” Christie told him. “Like elves, a little.”
“Really?” Lloyd was rapt. This new state of affairs was not so bad after all.
Lloyd’s appreciation for the new, digital Nelson Civic Theatre grew three sizes that day. As the final credits rolled and the happy crowd filed out into the winter’s night, the elf curled up sleepily on the warm projector.
“How did all this happen?” Lloyd asked before drifting off.
“You’re not the only elf around,” Christie told him. “I’d say the Civic has quite a case of elves. A good thing, wouldn’t you say?”
“Merry movies to all,” agreed Lloyd. “And to all a good night.”
— Anne DeGrace is the past president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society, which is working to develop the theatre into a multi-venue community space for movies, live performance and more. Find out about all things Civic Theatre at civictheatre.ca.