Starting in June, ImaginOn's Wachovia Theater will be a sight for soaring eyes -- all the better to take in those celluloid images of tapping feet, dancing limbs and crooning mouths.
That's because the main library's annual summer film series -- a Charlotte mainstay since 1975 -- will pick up its heels and hoof it over to its new screening facility at ImaginOn. And to inaugurate this new viewing venue, this summer's theme is "From Busby to Bollywood: Classic Musicals." The lineup begins with the Busby Berkeley extravaganza Footlight Parade and waltzes through works by (among others) Astaire-Rogers, Judy Garland and Gene Kelly before wrapping up with the Indian import Devdas.
"I thought it would be a fantastic idea to move the film series to ImaginOn," says Sam Shapiro, manager of the library's Movies & Music Department as well as the person responsible for booking the series. "The main library auditorium only seats about 75 people and, frankly, the seats are not all that comfortable. The Wachovia Theater, on the other hand, is knock-dead gorgeous. It seats 250 people, has stadium-style seating and the seats are very comfortable. All in all, it's a dream location for a movie programmer."
And a dream location for a movie watcher. Those used to viewing the film programs in the library auditorium will be pleasantly surprised by the upgrades in the screening experience afforded by the new digs.
"We've purchased state-of-the-art digital projection, and the theater's audio quality is excellent," says Shapiro. "Plus, the screen is large and widescreen, which is appropriate for the presentation of such widescreen classics as Oklahoma!"
It isn't just the widescreen demands of many classic musicals that make this an appropriate series with which to kick off the library-ImaginOn's cinematic marriage: The genre's fastidious attention to sound and scenery also played into the decision.
"Since I began showing theme-oriented summer film series in the early 1990s, I have presented every genre under the sun -- with the exception of musicals," notes Shapiro. "The reason I held off was due to the fact that the main library auditorium is not well suited for the presentation of musicals. The stereo quality is rather thin. However, once I heard what the sound system was capable of in the Wachovia Theater -- and once I knew how wonderful the visual quality of the film presentation would be -- I immediately knew the musical would be the perfect genre to showcase the library's new movie theater."
The film series "From Busby to Bollywood: Classic Musicals" will be presented at 2pm Sundays in the Wachovia Theater at ImaginOn, 300 E. Seventh St. The titles: Footlight Parade (June 4); Top Hat (June 11); Stormy Weather (June 18); Meet Me In St. Louis (June 25); On the Town (July 9); Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (July 16); Oklahoma! (July 23); Hair (July 30); Devdas (August 6). Admission is free. For more info, call 704-336-6217.