For two weekends every October, the sounds of laughter and German folk music echo across a field in Lake Worth. The American German Club's traditional Oktoberfest celebration, which sprawls across 10 acres under an open-air pavilion and a tent, has been going on for 40 years now and doesn't show any signs of stopping. Each day kicks off with the parade of flags and, sometimes, a ceremonial keg-tapping. Afterward, indoor and outdoor kitchens perpetually sizzle up authentic German bratwurst, leberkäse, and pastries. Meanwhile, bartenders pour four styles of Hofbräu Bier, as well as imported liquors and domestic brews. While vendors display traditional German crafts, the festival's stages erupt with folk-dancing, choral singing, and Bavarian tunes from two German groups, Heldensteiner Band and Die Lustigen Bayern.
It's 1980-something. Glen, a young boy, dons a pair of glasses with one blue lens and one red, excited by this new technology that's supposed to make things on the screen pop out at you. During the next two hours, Glen ducks swooping avians during the revival of Alfred Hitchcock's ¬The Birds in 3-D, terrified, yet thrilled. This is one of Glen Gray's earliest memories about the theater his father built more than 30 years ago. Today, Glen lives out those moments each day as the proprietor of Movies of Delray, where the projectors roll a medley of Hollywood features and foreign, art-house, and independent films.
Gold walls and burgundy curtains lend the lobby an art-deco air, and a large chandelier illuminates more than 60 pencil drawings of movie icons of yore, such as John Wayne, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe. This old-fashioned lobby disguises the updates within: brand-new bathrooms, granite countertops at the concession stand, and, in the theaters themselves, digital surround sound and updated seating. Rows of black leather seats cushion moviegoers with high backs and wide benches so cozy that Glen claims guests have fallen asleep in them, only waking up at the end of the picture or when Bruce Willis turns out to have been a metaphor all along.
In celebration of film, professor Shelly Isaacs graces the theater with screenings of obscure Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated foreign films. After each screening, he discusses the film with audiences, dissecting and analyzing the cinematography, characters, and plot.
Not many actors can say they've performed in a production directed by a 12-year-old, but Erin Coley has always had an instinctive sense of how to put on a show. Years later, she and her husband, J.R., founded Standing Ovation Performing Arts, assembling eight other experts in the field to encourage kids to get on the stage as early as possible. Improv comedy, puppetry, and playwriting help students express themselves while giving them the skills to deliver confident class presentations and rousing monologues on the futility of naptime.
The aroma of salt and butter fills Alco Capital Theaters in Boynton Beach. Manager Larry Forbes has worked in theaters for three decades, having started out projecting midnight rock flicks at a drive-in in Fort Lauderdale. He therefore balances a sentimental attachment to film with the practical aspects that make it good for business. "If there's a problem and you have a technician—which we do onsite all the time—you can fix it immediately," he points out. Although the majority of work is projected from film, the theater's eight screening rooms are not warehouses for nostalgia. Digital and Dolby 3-D projectors deliver sharp pictures and immersive experiences to stadiums of 1,500 lumbar-supportive seats, as digital speakers and ADA listening devices make eardrums quake.
During the winter, moviegoers prepare for the upcoming awards season with a full slate of Academy Award–nominated films. On some summer days 700–800 kids will flood the theater by 10 a.m. for adventure flicks and romantic comedies, and when things slow down in the fall, Forbes fires off notices of indie premieres and director Q&A sessions to members of the Movi-E Mail Club, who have chatted with director Susan Seidelman and burgeoning stars from The Palm Beach County Film & Television Institute. On federal holidays, the staff host a special matinee for students, and every Tuesday they pile free popcorn into reusable plastic buckets and vacant laps. The theater's dedication to its audience extends to special requests—Forbes remembers slipping a man's wedding-proposal video into the previews one night. Although he doesn't remember the film, Forbes does remember the woman's answer: she said yes.
For 20 years, the jaunty horns and strings of The Palm Beach Pops Orchestra have lured esteemed guests such as Mel Tormé, Kenny Rogers, and Hal Linden to join their shows, which brim with Hollywood hits and big-band tunes. During the American Songbook Spectacular, big-band songstress Lynn Roberts, whose resumé boasts sharing a stage with Frank Sinatra and the Dorsey Brothers, paints herself black and white before joining the orchestra to croon the timeless lyrics of Doris Day and Judy Garland. The evening will be captained by nationally acclaimed Maestro Bob Lappin as he leads the instrumentalists in a thumbing marathon through the pages of works from sonic standouts that include Harold Arlen, Frank Sinatra, and Irving Berlin.