Holiday Movies on Main at Main Street Theatre
Main Street Theatre is located on Main Street in the old section of Conway, SC. The iconic flashing marquee above the theatre has been a fixture in downtown since 1947 when The Holliday Theatre first opened in that location. However after years of openings and closing, disrepair and multiple owners, the renovated and new Main Street Theatre opened in 1994. The Main Street Theatre has less that 650 seats (The Holliday had 650 seats but when they restored the theatre they put in less seats and tried to outfit it with more modern amenities) boasts a balcony, a stage, a movie screen, a ticket window (in its original location on the corner) and concession stands. It is home to The Theatre of the Republic which puts on live performances throughout the year. But this holiday season it is home to old holiday movies.
I invited my friend, Holly, to join me for a viewing of White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. It is one of my favorite Christmas movies and I was looking forward to seeing it on the big screen since I’ve only seen it on video or DVD.
The front of the theatre is completely glass and a man behind the glass motioned us to enter the theatre at the corner entrance where we purchased our tickets at the glassed-in ticket window. He gave us a numbered ticket and told us there would be some giveaways before the show. The smell of freshly popped popcorn filled the air as we passed the concession stands selling beer, wine, soda, popcorn, and an assortment of candies.
The auditorium had green-lit Christmas trees at the right and left corners of the stage and a movie screen filling the wall. It was not the enormous size of a modern day movie screen, but filled the wall just the same. I chose seats smack-dab in the middle of the theatre. The showing was to begin at 7:30.
As 7:30 approached two men representing Easy 105.9, a local radio station featuring musical oldies, got up on the stage and introduced themselves as the sponsors of the holiday movie series. They then threw out facts and trivia about the movie: it was the biggest hit of 1954 which is the year it was released; Vera-Ellen lip-synched throughout the movie; and Danny Kaye was not the first choice for his part. They also explained that the movie was released in Vista-Vision which the movie industry created to compete with television sets and the screens for Vista-Vision movies were much bigger than the one in front of us. They would have been longer and taller. Essentially they were the IMAX theaters of that day. However they assured us that even though we didn’t have the humongous screen to watch the movie on, the colors were going to pop on the big screen and we would see the movie as it was meant to be seen: on the big screen. Before the night’s end Holly threw out her own trivia and informed me that the actor, George Clooney, was the nephew of Rosemary Clooney! After the trivia, they started drawing numbers and gave out prizes: tickets to the Christmas show at Alabama Theater, coffee mugs…and I won two tickets to Brookgreen Gardens!
The lights went down and the music began. White Christmas begins and ends with the signature song “White Christmas” (which we learned – in the trivia before the movie – was a song not originally written for this movie but another movie!) is about two entertainers (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) who get out of the army and hit it big in show business together. They meet two women entertainers and Danny Kaye dreams up ways to get Bing Crosby to fall in love with one of the girls while they rehearse and perform a Christmas show together at a ski resort in Vermont. There are three big dance numbers that I typically find rather boring in the movie. But when they were performed in front of us on the big screen they were fantastical! And I joined the audience in clapping as they came to an end! The audience clapped and laughed, and a few members of the audience sang along quietly to some of the songs throughout the movie. In the last scene when the general enters the dining area to greet his men from the army (get ready for the cliche) you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre. As the signature “The End” came on screen we all clapped our hands for the performance/movie.
Main Street Theatre created an experience that takes you back-in-time, to a theatre with no stadium seating or cup holders, no sound system that makes you feel the bass in the pit of your stomach. But I felt it enhanced the movie of 1954 and showed it in all its glory, as it should be seen. I can’t wait to see it again next year!
Movies on Main shows movies throughout various times of the year. It’s a Wonderful Life plays this Sunday.
Cost: $5 ticket. Up to $4 concessions.