COLUMN: From Casablanca to new sound systems

There is more clarity in our future

Brian May says Casablanca is one of the most quotable movies he has ever watched. File photo

BRIAN MAY

Civic Theatre column

People who know me well are familiar with my deeply held belief that the two most quotable movies are Casablanca and Zoolander. I rank Rick Blaine’s ‘ Louis , I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.‘ right up there with Derek Zoolanders “ I think I have the black lung father.”

Two years ago I emerged from the Civic Theatre spellbound by Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance in the National Theatre Live broadcast of Frankenstein and last month I just had to make someone watch Peter Boyle’ interpretation of the monster as he sang “ Puttin On the Ritz!” in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. If you haven’t seen it, YouTube it, then make a friend watch it.

They both have their place and they both deserve to be watched.

We all have memories of particular movies we’ve enjoyed, whether it was sharing the infectious laughter of 500 watching Young Frankenstein when it first hit the theatres or enjoying the joie de vivre of a respected local citizen as he did the chicken dance in a competition before the documentary Chicken People last year.

Sometimes we see a movie for the performance, sometimes for the artistic revelation or the unique story, and sometimes just for fun. The Civic offers you the chance to explore and broaden your interests. That’s unique.

In late March, members and staff of the theatre board made a presentation to city council. One fact that emerged was that in 2017 there were over 34,000 regular ticket sales for for 402 showings of 130 movies but total attendance was closer to 45,000. That’s because the Civic is now used by a number of other groups to host special feature including lectures and webinars. It’s a wide spectrum.

And that brings me to the announcement portion of this column. After five years of evolving programs and business operations the society announced to city council that they are ready to expand to three venues within the next two years. The message at this point is that it requires the efforts of partners at various levels and it has taken partners to get us to this level. Partners from our membership, to the city as a landlord, to the Columbia Basin Trust and a number of provincial programs.

Two weeks ago the CBT stepped forward again with $73,373 to enhance the sound system . When the society leapt into the 21 st century one of the first things the community pitched in for was a replacement sound system for the old single mono speaker on wheels, and it was a fantastic improvement and most still is. However, aside from the state of the art processor and acoustic wall treatment, the amps and speakers were refurbished to get costs down and get the theatre operational as soon as possible. They were slightly under powered for our size, and not specifically designed for new digital standards so new amplifiers and front speaks will greatly enhance the rest of our surround system. Those of you who have noticed certain frequencies have grown too shrill and loud over time, but dialogue too hard to understand if the volume is dropped, will be blown away from the clarity, balance across the frequencies and listening comfort of the new set-up that will equally perform for digital cinema and live applications. More importantly this fits into the new designs for the main theatre. That’s a start. Our thanks to Columbia Basin Trust for their trust.

I have a lot more favorite movie stories to tell and some I won’t tell and some Jason promised he won’t tell. Many, many have been from this very theatre. The goal now is to build the theatre for the long term. To offer the community more choices, to ensure it continues to operate as a sound business, to employ more youth, to host more lectures, to build a local film industry, to make more memories.

I wonder if Casablanca ever played here. I can picture it. I can hear it too.

Brian May is a Nelson Civic Theatre Society Board member

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