Monday, February 22, 2010

Home Town Entertainment

Small-town movie theaters are rapidly going the way of the drive-in.  The cost of renting current movies, hiring staff and paying the overhead is difficult to offset with crowds that usually average less than 50.  So we consider ourselves fortunate that our little town is the home of the historic Northrup Theater.  It is a beautiful example of 1940's Art Deco design and still sports the original paintwork.  Since this theater pre-dates the multiplex, there is one film showing each week - one showing each evening on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only. 

Back in our dating days, small town theaters often waited months, if not years, to get the latest movies, but the management here does a fantastic job of bringing new-release films to rural Kansas.  They usually select films that will appeal to the broadest audience - mostly family-oriented, romantic comedy or "teen" movies.  We rarely get an R-rated show, and it's not unusual for the crowd to range from toddlers to seniors.  The cost of admission is only $6 for adults and an additional $10 gets us a large bucket of popcorn, two large pops and 2 bags of Peanut M&Ms - our favorite showtime snacks since the vintage concession counter quit stocking Milk Duds.  We try to attend every movie that appeals to us at all, just to support this rare piece of Americana.

Last night's movie was "Tooth Fairy" starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Ashley Judd.  The Tooth Fairy, also known as Derek Thompson, is a hard-charging hockey player whose nickname comes from his habit of separating opposing players from their bicuspids. When Derek discourages a youngster's dreams, he's sentenced to one week's hard labor as a real tooth fairy, complete with the requisite tutu, wings and magic wand. (description from Yahoo!Movies).

This movie was just plain fun!  No cuss words, no sexual content, less blood than the average hockey game, and a good moral.  Dwayne Johnson is a great comedic actor and makes use of his natural ability for hilarious facial expressions and that winning smile.  The child actors were not at all annoying or precocious, and Ashely Judd is just.....well...the talented and gorgeous Ashley Judd.  'Nough said.  And to top it off, Billy Crystal makes a laugh-out-loud appearance.  It's worth the price of admission just for that.  Take the kids, take the grandkids or do as we did and make it a "date night" and see it with no kids and no apologies.

And if you happen to be traveling along Highway 50 in southwest Kansas, stop in Syracuse and check out the beautiful theater.  We'll treat you to a movie and a bucket of popcorn.


  1. My dad managed a group of theaters like this in western Missouri in the 1950's. I'm glad to see they're not all gone. Thanks for the memories.

  2. What a gorgeous theater! I'm so glad to see places like that haven't been completely obliterated from our landscape.

  3. Lovely theater; it kinda reminds me of the theater of my childhood. Great post!

  4. When I was growing up in Lakin we went there quite a few times. It's great to it's still around and thriving.

  5. I'm so sorry we didn't know you last September when my husband and I drove Hiway 50 from Kansas west to the coast. We would have loved to check out this beautiful historic theater. We love movies and nothing beats the big screen in the dark, with popcorn, etc. Next time . . .