’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house folks were piling in to see The Hobbit — just as they had in that ghost of a Christmas past, the one where the Civic Theatre Elf CelluLloyd (Lloyd for short) had woken up from his long winter’s nap to find things had changed.
He explained as much to the Library Elves Dewey, Spineworth, and OverDude — how just last year he’d awoken to find the dusty old theatre transformed, and The Desolation of Smaug on the big screen.
“This is the final installment,” Lloyd told them. “Part two kind of left us hanging — festively speaking, of course.”
“Clearly,” agreed Spineworth sarcastically. “The best sort of tinsel.” He was still disgruntled that anyone might consider a movie over a book, and in fact had spent several nights reading the Tolkien classic aloud to the Theatre Elf to prove his point.
They settled into the back row. Spineworth and Dewey had never tasted popcorn (no eating in the library) but OverDude had once spent a week working through The Comfort Food Cookbook at 641.5. “They should have had the recipe for this great popcorn spice in there,” he grinned through a mouthful.
The lights went down, then, and the silver screen lit up. “Isn’t she gorgeous?” whispered Lloyd. “Christie the Projector is the sharpest gal in these parts.”
“Shhhh,” said Dewey. “I want to see if it’s like the book. That’s what we’re here for, right? To decide which is better, books or movies?”
“Movies, Schmovies,” grumbled Spineworth. He wasn’t ready to give in.
Lloyd grinned. “Books, Schmooks,” he countered. “Although I have to admit, your bedtime story sessions — with all of us nestled all snug in our beds — were pretty good.”
And so ’twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house 600 eyes were glued to the screen. Lloyd leaned over to Spineworth. “So…?”
“Quiet!” he said. “I have to find out if Bilbo escapes from the Orcs!”
Beside him, Dewey was reciting feverishly: “Now Gandalf, now Bilbo, now Thorin and Balin; on Galadriel, on Legolas, on Dáin and Dwalin!”
Spineworth was caught up, too. “The screen, how it twinkles. The SurroundSound so merry,” he glanced at Dewey. “Smaug’s breath is like roses — okay, maybe not.”
OverDude grinned, laid a finger aside of his nose and gave a nod of approval while beside them Lloyd beamed.
Long after the last of the movie-goers had filed out into the snowy night they sat together in the dark.
“I have visions of hobbits dancing in my head,” said OverDude. “Some of them come from the book, and some of them come from the movie.”
“You can curl up with a good book,” offered CelluLloyd thoughtfully. “You can snuggle up with kids and moms and dads and grandparents to read stories.”
“You can go watch a movie with your buddies,” conceded Dewey. “It’s like your imagination, only a whole lot bigger. And the sound is awesome.”
“And afterwards,” said Spineworth, “you can get together and talk about it.”
“The book or the movie?” asked OverDude.
“Both!” answered Spineworth, Dewey, and CelluLloyd in unison.
And then they had a popcorn fight.
It was a happy bunch of elves who waved goodbye at the door of the Nelson Civic Theatre, promising to come back for the New Year’s Eve Family Pajama Party. For now, they all knew there was more than one way to skin a cat, or tell a story. Or run with a metaphor, for that matter.
And I heard them exclaim, ere they skipped out of sight, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
This is Anne DeGrace’s final column for the Nelson Civic Theatre. In the new year look for alternating columns by theatre manager Jason Asbell and executive director Eleanor Stacey. See you at the movies!