The two screens of Tower Theaters host an eclectic cast of characters, from the flying superheroes of summer blockbusters to elaborately costumed opera singers. And 3-D technology propels many of them toward the audience with the vivid clarity of digital projection. The dancers and singers appear as part of a monthly opera and ballet series, which showcases stage productions such as Caravaggio or Die Fledermaus in digital HD. But on the first Saturday of every month, film and live performance combine with midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, during which a shadow cast poses in front of the screen to mirror the cult classic's plot and catch Tim Curry when he falls out.
An endless amount of stories flicker across the screen at these cinemas, which offer stadium seating and digital sound. The theater plays films chosen from Hollywood’s newest releases, featuring stars just plucked from the vines where they grow in the California hills. Between whispered critiques of each preview, audience members can wash down fluffy kernels of popcorn with soda from the concession stand. The theater also opens its doors for birthday parties and large private screenings for up to 300 guests.
For more than a century, the Berkshire Museum has blended history, science, and art into a cohesive whole, drawing inspiration from both the Smithsonian and the American Museum for Natural Science. The museum is packed with wonders ranging from Wally—the fiberglass stegosaurus who guards the museum’s entry—to the John James Audubon display, an impassioned tribute to the very ornithology that prompted Audubon to pen The Birds of America. Other, more playful displays unveil additional wonders, including Alexander Calder's collection of wooden push and pull toys. And inside the vast, salty aquarium, a teeming collection of clownfish, blind cave tetra, and puffer fish swim merrily side-by-side, thankful that they've yet to be cast as members of some trite, underwater calypso band.
Hoyts Simsbury Cinemas enthralls cinephiles and periodic moviegoers alike with the latest Hollywood fare screened in Dolby Digital surround sound. A concessions stand nourishes viewers with delectable noshes, and the theater's stadium seating comfortably harbors audience members waiting their turn to give an acceptance speech for Best Movie Viewer. In addition to its usual cinematic offerings, Hoyts Simsbury Cinemas screens biweekly sensory-friendly showings––for families with youngsters affected by autism and sensory disorders––during which theater lights remain on, the volume is turned down, and patrons may opt to dance, sing, and hop throughout the film. Private showings for mothers and babies invite parents to enjoy movies without worrying that their child's clamor is bothering other audience members. Birthday-party packages treat celebrants to a movie-themed birthday area with a snack pack and helium balloon for each child, and private presentations or VHS support groups welcome up to 50 attendees.
In the space of a former 1960s movie theater, Parkade Cinemas enhances the traditional film-watching experience with live entertainment. Guests munch fresh popcorn as they watch second-run action blockbusters or Oscar-hungry dramas on one of four screens, or they head to one of two live-theater auditoriums to chuckle at comedians, dance to visiting musicians, or accuse their friends of unspeakable crimes during murder-mystery dinners. Parkade does celebrations right with movie-themed birthday parties and yearly Halloween events that feature classic horror films and haunted-house antics staffed by costumed employees and volunteers.
Spotlight Theaters’ screens enrapture audiences with first-run movies. In each movie house, digital sounds and visual projections of fresh Hollywood films alight inner emotions of audiences resting in plush, high-backed seats—each outfitted with a coin-operated mustache comb—or thrown directly into the action through 3-D technology. As eyes and ears relish motion-picture pursuits, soda, candy, and bounties of salty, crunchy popcorn emerge from the concession stand to occupy chatty mouths or catapult towards the screen to feed the hungry actors. Front Street’s brand new Spotlight Theater also houses a full-service restaurant and will soon feature themed movie-and-food pairings, such as French cuisine with French films.