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Plaza Playhouse Theater to Celebrate 88 Years of Entertainment With ‘Casablanca’ Screening

Plaza Playhouse Theater in Carpinteria invites you to celebrate its 88th anniversary with a special reception and the screening of Casablanca at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 30, 2016.

Toss out the film title Casablanca and the immediate response may be: Bogart, Bergman, “As Time Goes By” sung by Dooley Wilson or a few wonderfully memorable  lines from the movie: “We’ll always have Paris,” “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she had to walk into mine,” “Here’s looking at you kid” and perhaps the best remembered words spoken by Bogart, “Louie, I have a feeling this is the beginning of a…” 

If you finished that last line you call yourself a true Casablanca fan. (For those who’ve never seen the movie, read on to get the rest of the quote).

The 1942 Academy Award-winner for Best Picture will once again light up the silver screen the evening of April 30 starting at 6 p.m. as the Plaza Playhouse Theater celebrates 88 years of bringing entertainment to the Carpinteria Valley.

The theater, which is the oldest, continuously operating venue between Los Angeles and San Francisco, first opened its doors April 28, 1928, barely a year after talkies had stunned the country and launched the movie business into a whole new trajectory.  

It was part of the newly constructed “Alcazar” building and carried that namesake on its marquee. 

Owner Henry J. Miller invested $500,000 in the project and builder Alex D’Alfonso claimed that is was “as strong and sturdy as the Rock of Gilbraltar.” 

The building had gone up just three years after the massive earthquake that had rocked the South Coast of California in 1925, causing widespread destruction in Santa Barbara, so his words were reassuring to many.

There to greet theatergoers that first night was the manager and Carpinteria resident, Oliver Prickett, an actor who had an ongoing association with the Pasadena Playhouse and who had encouraged the establishment of the theater.  

Local growers had sent so many flowers they overflowed from the lobby out onto the sidewalk. Telegrams of congratulations from executives of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount and Christie Films had been sent to Prickett, some of which can still be seen hanging in the lobby area.

Patrons were treated to a live band and the premiere showing of the comedy The Fifty-Fifty Girl. Admission was $1.10, quite a sum considering the usual price was around 25 cents.

So how does all this fit together with Casablanca? Well, it turns out Prickett had a small, non-speaking role in the film as a waiter at the Blue Parrot, a watering hole run by Sydney Greenstreet. 

“What better way for us to honor Ollie’s legacy than with his appearance in what film critics and moviegoers alike have voted the ‘most romantic movie of all time,’ said Hanne Pitcock, president of the theater’s board of directors. “When Ollie comes on the screen, we want everyone to applaud and holler out!”

Peter Bie, a board member and curator of film and television programming for the theater said that “given that this movie is itself 74 years old, Warner Bros. has done a bang-up re-master in high definition that has restored the original sharpness of the black and white process.” 

Bie noted that the film will be seen in digital projection with an enhanced soundtrack. 

“When Dooley Wilson sings ‘As Time Goes By’, you’ll want to sing along,” he said.

Oh, and the last few words of that line delivered by Bogart are…“beautiful friendship.” 

Now that you know, don’t let that spoil the chance to hear it delivered in true Bogart fashion, along with a lot of other great lines in a movie that has stood the test of time and influenced screen writers, actors and directors — and many a love affair — for nearly 75 years.

The 88th anniversary celebration of the Plaza Playhouse Theater will include a reception and entertainment prior to the screening. A special door prize based around the theme of Casablanca will also be awarded to a lucky patron.   

Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the reception with the film, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman rolling at 7 p.m.

Tickets for the event are $20 per person for general admission and can be purchased online at www.plazatheatercarpinteria.com and at Seastrand, which is located at 919 Linden Avenue in Carpinteria, during regular business hours with cash or check only. 

The box office opens at 6 p.m. and tickets (if available) can be purchased at the box office the night of the show.

Located at 4916 Carpinteria Avenue, the theater is wheelchair accessible. Along with the typical fare of popcorn, soft drinks and candy, the theater also serves beer and wine at the concession stand for your pleasure. 

For more information, call 805.684.6380 or email [email protected].

Melinda Bie represents the Plaza Playhouse Theater

 

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