Cardboard cutouts clad with cartoon superheroes and banners featuring beloved Hollywood starlets bedeck the walls of the Movies at Wellington lobby, reminding patrons why film viewing has become such a time-tested American pastime. Buttered popcorn kernels glint through front counters like diamonds in a jewelry-store case, luring those who want a snack while watching the newest releases in digital projection or innovative RealD 3D display. Guests can also question ticket takers about birthday-party packages for 25 guests, which offer unlimited popcorn, soda refills, and a tour of the attic, in which the projectionist stores his hand puppets.
Though entertainment fads come and go, movie theaters remain, tempting audiences with fantastical stories new and old. The film buffs behind the Tampa Pitcher Show understand this craving for narrative connection, filling their movie hall and bar space’s calendar with first-run films, alternative events, and live music that helped them take home the prize for Best Kept Secret in Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay 2011 Reader’s Poll. Within the theater, projectors hum to life with current hits and cult classics every night; weekends welcome special happenings that include Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow-casts, art bazaars, and comedy shows. The Take 2 Lounge dispenses a sprawling menu of bar fare, including burgers, pizzas, and beers such as Magic Hat #9, Southern Tier, and Florida Avenue Ale flowing from 13 tap lines.
Classical, opera, and popular orchestral compositions make up the repertoire of the Southwest Florida Symphony, which has made quality programming its mission since 1961. Aiming to make music accessible to all, the symphony visits schools, offers scholarships, books youth-friendly concerts, and provides a friendly First-Timer’s Guide for new audience members unfamiliar with the proper way of applauding.
The Sarasota Film Society's two theaters—foreign-and-independent-film-spotlighting Burns Court Cinemas and mainstream-flick-running Lakewood Ranch Cinemas—function as a nonprofit organization dedicated to heightening film entertainment and education options in the area. A one-year single membership grants a free pass for one movie (an $8 value) and one popcorn (a $4 value), as well as $5 tickets and free popcorn refills (a $4 value each) at all regular screenings for the remainder of the year. Early access to tickets means members never have to feel the shame of being the last person they know to cry about a Pixar movie, and discounted tickets to all Film Society festivals and special events allows members to compare their Sergio Leone trivia thresholds. Alternatively, two movie tickets (a $16 value) and one large popcorn (a $4 value) valid at either theater rescue customers from another night of staying in to watch their DVR's directorial debut about the living room's seedy underbelly.
The Sunscreen Film Festival celebrates the celluloid efforts of the sunshine state, bolstering awareness and support of the invaluable asset of local filmmaking. The festival starts its sixth year with a slew of hand-picked flicks representing the works of local and international auteurs, along with informative workshops for future sun-stroked Speilbergs and panel discussions for fledgling Eberts. With two one-day passes, film fanatics can bask in the sunless glow of projectors as they cram a smorgasbord of short films, documentaries, music videos, and feature-lengths into their eyeholes. Day passes also grant access to panels and workshops. The passes may be used by one moviegoer for two days of the fest or split between friends for one day of movie gorging.
A Broadway hit and 12-time Tony Award winner, Mel Brooks' The Producers features the exploits of con men Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, whose attempt to produce a flop on the Great White Way goes mirthfully awry. Accompanied by a live orchestra and the full-color guffaws of fellow audience members, The Producers ensures a side-stitching, knee-slapping, stranger-high-fiving good time. Currently in its 25th season, Lakeland Community Theatre has given thousands of local performers a spot on stage and ushered untold numbers of plot twists past the awe-struck eyes of more than 325,000 audience members. Its performance space in the Lake Mirror Theatre Complex is sited a short distance from an array of shops and restaurants, ensuring an evening of ample eye, ear, and mouth feasting.