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Theater makes plans to offer the classics

The Richey Suncoast Theatreplans to start showing movie classics, mostly those in the public domain.

By JODIE TILLMAN
Published June 20, 2006


NEW PORT RICHEY - There is a place where you can giggle through Nacho Libre, scream through The Omen, gasp through The Da Vinci Code.

Richey Suncoast Theatre does not want to be that place.

But the 80-year-old downtown landmark that has been home to community theater productions for the past 30 years does want to start showing movies again starting this fall.

They're talking His Girl Friday and To Kill a Mockingbird.

"I think our audience would be anybody who wants to see classic fare," said board president and manager Charlie Skelton. "It'd just be so neat to bring something different."

Don't expect reels of film, though. The movies may be old, but the theater plans to buy a DVD projector and rollup screen to show the movies.

The theater can get the Toshiba DVD projector at a reduced price of roughly $4,000 because Skelton ran into a Toshiba representative at a recent theater convention in Orlando. The Toshiba salesman, Skelton said, was sold on the idea of showing movies at a historic theater.

Though purists may prefer film, Skelton said DVD technology, besides being less expensive than buying a film projector, has improved substantially in recent years.

"I don't know if you can tell the difference (between film and DVD) anymore," Skelton said.

The theater would charge about $5 a person. "It'll give families some place to go with all the rising costs," he said.

Skelton is working with New Port Richey Library events coordinator Ann Scott, who has experience organizing independent movie showings at the library. Earlier this month, for instance, the library showed a Vietnamese film and is also showing movies with gay and lesbian themes every Thursday this month.

Richey Suncoast will focus on classics, particularly ones that are in the public domain and would not require performance fees. If a movie looks exceptionally good, though, Scott said the theater could try to get grants or sponsors to cover performance fees.

Scott said she is still working on a list of public domain movies that the theater could show.

She said she recently watched Singing in the Rain, and thought it seemed the perfect movie to watch on a big screen again.

"Classic films, it just seems like Richey is the perfect venue," Scott said.

It's a good venue for city officials working on redeveloping the downtown, too. City Manager Scott Miller said he hoped moviegoers would frequent restaurants after the films and liven up the downtown.

"The more people they can bring downtown, the better," he said.