Artfully Edmonds: Valuing the community feel of our old-fashioned movie theater, plus holiday happenings

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Edmonds Theater manager Chris Mayes first saw the trailer for Loving Vincent in Amsterdam, and arranged to bring it to Edmonds. (Photo by McKenna Smith)

The Edmonds Theater is nestled in the heart of downtown Edmonds. It’s a hub that’s been bringing our community together since it opened back in 1923.

Originally christened “The Princess,” it answered to “The Edgemont” for a time, before taking its current name over 35 years ago. With almost a century of operation, imagine the mountains of popcorn consumed, the first kisses, the excitement generated each time the latest blockbuster came to town.

Christopher Mayes took on the role of managing the Edmonds Theater about four-and-a-half years ago. He grew up with a unique awareness of the movie industry since his mother booked films for theaters for a living. You may have seen him dart up to the front of the theater just before the feature rolls to give a quick speech.

“It’s funny. That all started when our secondary projector was broken and I was forced to get up there to let people know about upcoming pictures. People liked it, so I just keep doing it,” Mayes said.

Since there’s a lot going on at The Edmond Theater, it’s always profitable to pay attention to his announcements.

“Throwback Thursday” for example (which shows at 8 p.m. just as Art Walk Edmonds is ending on every third Thursday of the month) — which will often be a fun modern classic – and the movies are free. Well… nothing is really free. “It costs the the theater between $250 and $350 to bring those, but we hope to make that back with the concessions we sell,” said Mayes.

I don’t mind doing my part by buying some of their awesome popcorn and a drink at The Edmonds. They have some of the lowest concessions and ticket prices in the entire Seattle market, and concession sales are crucial to a theater’s bottom line.

I love funky old theaters. Designed to be movie “palaces” in the 1920s and ’30s, they have a vibe all their own. From the moment you step up to buy your ticket and as you enter the lobby, it’s as though you’re transported to another time. I think of the generations of folks who have left their troubles at the door for a couple of hours of escape.

“One of my favorite parts of the job is the community experience of watching a movie together,” said Mayes.

Given the choice of seeing a picture at the sterile, big-box multi-megaplex, with their glitzy robotic pop dispensers (and their fancy prices), I’ll opt for a place like The Edmonds every time.

Sadly, in June, Landmark Theaters made the decision to close the Guild 45th and the Seven Gables in Seattle. Their future is unclear. It’s very possible that they’ve shown their last film.

But The Edmonds Theater has no plans to shut down. On the contrary, they’ve got an exciting series of movies planned. In fact, folks have been lining up to purchase tickets for the new Star Wars feature (slated to open Thursday, Dec. 17) for weeks. Their new ticketing system is in, new seats will be rolling in sometime soon and a concessions remodel is planned. “My goal is to acquire the best tech and at the same time I’d like to keep it cool by maintaining the integrity of the old-time theater experience,” said Mayes.

While Star Wars is the biggest thing on industry radar at the moment, (The Edmonds tends to collect 10 percent of its gross annual sales when a Stars Wars movie hits town) it’s another film — Loving Vincent — that I want to praise. It’s one that deserves your attention, that begs to be seen on the big screen, and that just happens to be playing at The Edmonds Theater Dec. 8-14.

Mayes became aware of it in April. “ I was in Amsterdam at the van Gogh Museum where they were showing a trailer. As soon as I saw it, I wanted it for Edmonds, I gave them my card and asked them to contact me when distribution began.”

Deciding what plays and what doesn’t play in Edmonds can be kind of tricky. “It’s kind of like placing a bet every time you select a picture,” quipped Mayes.

Loving Vincent is so good that I hope it’s a bet that pays off well for the theater.

I first caught wind of Loving Vincent about six weeks ago when a promo for it appeared in one of the newsfeeds I follow. When the film opened at the SIFF Uptown in Seattle about a month ago, a friend and I decided to run down and see it. I haven’t stopped raving about it since.

Like many of us, I’ve read a lot about Vincent van Gogh, I’ve studied his art and watched my share of documentaries about him. I was prepared to be modestly impressed by the animation and somewhat bored by the storyline. Instead, I was completely blown away by the animation and utterly captivated by the plot scheme.

Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that the movie revolves around an unposted letter found a year after Vincent’s death and addressed to his brother and greatest supporter, Theo. I’ll say no more.

For me, what makes Loving Vincent a truly great film is not just the animation (which is undeniably spectacular on the big screen) but a plot device that allows the viewer to perceive van Gogh with compassion and humanity.

Here’s the official Loving Vincent trailer:

Loving Vincent was in production for six years. Over 100 artists were commissioned to hand paint every frame of this 95-minute feature film. It’s estimated that each second of this film took two weeks to paint. There are 65,000 frames. It’s a stunning achievement and the result is breathtaking.

When I saw it, there was barely a dry eye in the house as the credits rolled, so bring a hanky if you’re prone to that sort of thing.

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Friday-Sunday
Dec. 8 -23

Fridays & Saturdays: 8 p.m.
Sundays: 2 p.m.

Phoenix Theatre
9673 Firdale Ave
(In Firdale Village)

Twist of the Magi

O’Henry’s iconic and ironic holiday classic gets a remake as the audience is transported to a 1940s radio studio. (See Emily Hill’s review here.) With this adaptation, Managing Director and actor Debra Rich Gettleman gets a writing credit as well. If it’s true to Phoenix form, expect to find yourself laughing out loud in spite of yourself.

Tickets at this link.

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Kristin Vogel

Sunday & Monday
Dec. 10 and 11

7:30 p.m.

Cascade Symphony Holiday Pops Concert

(sellout alert!)

The Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 N. 4th Ave N.
Edmonds

Director Micheal Miropolsky has an enjoyable evening of popular holiday favorites and well-loved arias planned as the Cascade Symphony prepares to bring the music of Irving Berlin, Leroy Anderson and many others to Edmonds this holiday season. The featured soloist, soprano Kristen Vogel (recent role of Mimi in La Bohème at Tacoma Opera) will perform arias and carols. Come early and listen to Dave Beck’s (KING -FM) lecture at 6:30 p.m. In the event of a sellout, tickets often can be had at the last minute.

Information at cascadesymphony.org

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Gaston and the Silly Girls. (Photo by Dale Sutton)

Now through Dec. 17

Thursdays – Saturdays: 8 p.m.
Sundays and Saturday, Dec. 16: 2 p.m.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Wade James Theatre
950 Main
Edmonds

This wondrous, crowd pleasing production is the perfect prescription to chase away gloom. The inanimate objects, the beautiful, aspiring Belle, the ghastly Gaston, The troubled, cursed Beast, and of course, my favorite character, the bookseller! Treat yourself to a flight of fantasy. It’s sure to make you smile. I’ve not seen this presentation of Beauty, but reports from friends are all highly positive.

Tickets at edmondsdriftwoodplayers.org

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Northwest Chorale

Saturday, Dec. 9

6:30 p.m.

The Northwest Chorale presents
Handel – Messiah

Edmonds United Methodist Church
828 Caspers St.
Edmonds

Prepare to be enthralled as the Northwest Chorale performs what is arguably George Frederick Handel’s greatest accomplishment, Messiah. This performance will include soloists and an orchestra, all under the direction of Lynn Hall. Northwest Chorale concerts are free to attend. Donations are gratefully accepted with all proceeds benefiting Northwest Harvest.

For information about their Messiah Sing-a-long/Play-a-long scheduled in Seattle for Dec. 29, please visit the website.

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Friday, Dec. 8

4-8 p.m.

Free Holiday Movie

Edmonds Theater
415 Main St.
Edmonds

Sponsored by Cline Jewelers, this FREE family friendly movie extravaganza begins at 4 p.m. with classic animation favorites — there are rumored on screen appearances by the Grinch and Rudolph. At 6 p.m., settle in for the feature holiday classic Elf (2003), with Will Ferrell leading an all-star cast that includes Zooey Deschanel, Peter Dinklage, and Amy Sedaris.

More details on this and other Edmonds holiday events at EdmondsHolidays.com

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Saturday Dec. 9

3 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Sno-King Community Chorale

Holiday Magic – Holiday Memories

Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave. N.

Join the 100 strong Sno-King Community Choir and get into the holiday spirit as they present holiday favorites loved by all.

Featuring The Chase Lake Elementary Choir

Frank DeMiero Conductor and Artistic Director

Learn more at sno-kingchorale.org/wp/

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Olympic Ballet Theatre brings The Nutcracker to Edmonds Dec. 15-17.

Friday – Sunday, Dec. 15-17

Dec. 15 – 7 p.m.
Dec. 16 – 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Dec. 17 – 5 p.m.

The Nutcracker

Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave. N.

The Nutcracker was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892. The Olympic Ballet Theatre honors this 125th anniversary with their presentation of this beloved holiday tradition. Tchaikovsky never gets old, and this year’s production boasts some new set design by Seattle Opera’s Philip Lienau.

More information at olympicballet.org

James Spangler

— By James Spangler

When not actively scheming about ways to promote the arts in Edmonds, James Spangler can be found (highly caffeinated) behind the counter of his bookstore on 4th Avenue

8 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you to the Mayo family for giving Chris the ability to spread his wings and keep this gem alive. Love love love the Edmonds Theater. Plus they have the best popcorn. Just sayin’ !

  2. I have missed you in the Beacon! Glad to find you with My Edmonds News! Edmonds Theater is a gem, very friendly staff and looking forward to new seats!

    • Thanks Margie!
      I’m loving my new job! Old theaters are worth preserving, and patronage is the best way to insure The Edmonds will be around for years to come. (And this movie really is worth it!)

  3. Thank you for this wonderful article James!!! And yes, Chris is a gem! We are thankful for his creative ideas and his personal touch!

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