Spotlight Theatres 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 stadium 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.
The motion-picture gurus at Mom and Pop's Westside Cinemas have been relaying Hollywood's latest films for eager cinephiles for more than a decade. Artifacts salvaged from 1985, the theater's old-school 33-millimeter projectors cast images onto three screens as crisp Dolby surround sound heightens movies' audio, allowing viewers to hear the cameraman's knees buckle in the presence of Clint Eastwood's glare. Films soon to grace the silver screen include the Justin Timberlake sci-fi thriller In Time, the comedic feature Tower Heist with Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller, and Puss in Boots, featuring a swashbuckling feline voiced by Antonio Banderas. After sliding into their seats for matinee or evening showtimes, visitors devour a mountainous washtub of popcorn that doubles as a toboggan when emptied. Though not included with today's Groupon, Mom and Pop's Westside Cinemas dispenses a variety of additional concessions, such as 44 oz. sodas ($4.75) and juicy franks from Nathan's Hot Dogs, and adorns its lobby with seven arcade games, including Ms. Pac Man.
In 2012, Park Plaza Cinema made the conversion from reel to digital projectors, which WTOC chronicled locally. "It's a sad day. It's a historical day," Lucie Mann, who owns the theater with her husband, Larry, told WTOC. The digital conversion has not been the only upgrade at Park Plaza. The new Parlez-Vous Lounge and Ciné-Café invites guests to relax on its cushy benches or barstools for housemade ice cream or gourmet pizza or wings. Select beers and wines are also available. Along with its regular rotation of Hollywood blockbusters, family films, and arthouse cinema, the theater also organizes movie clubs and hosts a weekly movie-discussion group with a film critic.
The Emerging Cinemas network presents world-class performing arts, recorded on-scene at internationally recognized theaters and splashes them across the big screen before popcorn-chomping American audiences. Coppélia, choreographed by Patrice Bart, is a comic tale that follows the en pointe follies of a lovesick villager whose fiancée must compete with a life-like dancing automaton to win his affections. Composed by Mozart, The Magic Flute, a two-act opera with both dialogue and singing, tells the story of young prince Tamino and his love interest, Pamina, as they struggle through a series of fantastical trials and stress-induced cupcake binges to realize their union.
Helium illuminates the story of Miss Molly, a former chemistry teacher now in the throes of dementia who sets off on imagined adventures much to the chagrin of her worried family members. The production portrays poignant glimpses into aging and the multifaceted human mind, bringing humor to a subject often rife with sadness. The narrative unfolds at the venerable Dock Street Theatre, which fetes play enthusiasts with a plethora of staged tales. The newly renovated playhouse features high-quality lighting and sound, comfy seats, and new-fangled heating and air-conditioning while maintaining its nostalgic allure and secret portals to the 1736 production of Rent.