Wednesday, January 24 , 2018, 3:31 am | Fair 42º


Plaza Playhouse Theater to Celebrate 86th Anniversary with ‘Casablanca’ Screening

While most of Hollywood searches for the fountain youth, one aging movie queen is planning a big party to celebrate her 86th birthday and everyone is invited.


Oliver Prickett
Oliver Prickett was the original manager of Carpinteria’s Plaza Playhouse Theater.

Carpinteria’s entertainment stalwart, the Plaza Playhouse Theater, will celebrate its 86th anniversary on Saturday, May 3.

A capacity crowd is expected for the celebration screening of Casablanca, the 1942 film noir classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

The screening will be preceded by a reception featuring appetizers from local businesses, including Crazy Good Bread Company and Desserts to Die For and signature drinks poured by award-winning Bainbridge Organic Distillers.

Casablanca and Carpinteria,” one may think. “I don’t get the connection.” Well, impress your movie buff friends with this bit of trivia — Carpinterian Oliver Prickett played a waiter at the Blue Parrot, the watering hole in Casablanca, and Prickett was the original manager of Carpinteria’s Plaza Playhouse Theater.

“We are honored to being carrying on the dream of Ollie’s,” board president Melinda Bie said. “I’m confident that he would be very pleased that the theater he started is in the hands of a very dedicated Board of Directors who are committed to keeping every aspect of the theater arts alive in the Carpinteria Valley.”

Before it was known as the Plaza Playhouse Theater, it was The Alcazar and opened on April 27, 1928. Owner Henry Muller invested $500,000 to build the theater that builder Alex D’Alfonso claimed was “as strong and sturdy as the Rock of Gibraltar.”

The opening of the theater prompted telegrams of congratulations from MGM, Paramount and Christie Films among others to the first proprietor of the theater, longtime resident and actor Prickett (sometimes known as Oliver Blake) of Ma and Pa Kettle fame. (Some of those original communiqués are on display in the lobby.) Opening night at the Alcazar featured a live band and the premier showing of a comedy The Fifty-Fifty Girl. Admission was $1.10.

Admission to the theater’s 85th birthday party is $30 per person or $50 per couple and includes a reception and entertainment prior to screening. Advance purchase is encouraged and tickets may be purchased online by clicking here or by cash or check at Curious Cup Bookstore. Proceeds from the evening directly benefit the Plaza Playhouse Theater. The theater is located at 4916 Carpinteria Ave. in downtown Carpinteria. The 86th anniversary celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m., and Casablanca will screen at 7 p.m.

For more information on the screening of Casablanca or the Plaza Playhouse Theater, call 805.684.6380 or click here.

— Melinda Bie is the board president for the Plaza Playhouse Theater.

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