The New Canaan Playhouse: The Deluxe Edition
Published 1:25 pm, Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Seen a movie in New Canaan lately? Notice anything different? No, it's not the exorbitant price of popcorn and candy. It's new seats and state of the art 3D digital projectors. Gone are the days of long dusty film reels and scratchy black and white images. Well the black and white images have admittedly been gone for a long time, but the new digital projection makes for some crystal clear resolution. The initiative to renovate the Playhouse was a joint project with Bow Tie Cinemas and the town.
"We've converted most of our circuit to digital projection," Joseph Masher, chief operating officer of Bow Tie Cinemas, said. "That means there is no more film. The films are now delivered on a hard drive, a very small little hard drive which you plug into the projector. We get e-mailed a `key' that allows you to run the film for a certain number of days. For the digital projection we just put in two brand new silver screens. The theater is fully 3D capable."
On top of the all the new improvements to the screen and images, Masher also explained the upgrade to the sound system. Up until now, the Playhouse only had mono sound as opposed to stereo because the walls dividing the two screens previously had been hollow, allowing sound to pass through it easily.
"So now what we've done is put some soundproof batting on that wall. We've put drapes on the wall and a wall carpet on the lower half. So now the sound is all absorbed by the drapes, the wall carpet and the sound batting so you don't hear a lot of the crossover," Masher said. "And the theater for the first time has surround sound. It is actually the latest and greatest technology and it's probably one the best presentations you'll see in any theater."
The seating arrangement has also changed Masher said. Originally there was no center seating with rows of chairs lined up on the left and right with one aisle in the center. The new formation of seats allows for more seating towards the middle.
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"This is called the continental arrangement where you have two side aisles and the best seats in the middle of the row," Masher said.
In addition to the new continental arrangement, balcony seating has also been added, an area which had been closed off since the 1970s, Masher said. The section has 13 extra seats for those who prefer to watch their favorite films from the very back of the theater. Take a few steps up from the balcony and the original projection room is right there. However, the difference between the way the room is now from the way it was in the 1920s are the futuristic, reel-less $250,000 digital projectors.
"So all this equipment you see with the 3D capabilities and the screens and everything is about $250,000. It's a pretty significant investment," Masher said. "And it really is rare to see somebody -- I'm not patting ourselves on the back -- but it's showing how much we enjoy our relationship with the town of New Canaan and really enjoy this theater that we felt this was really worth the investment."
Masher added that they chose not to digitize the Greenwich three-screen theater and instead went with New Canaan because of Bow Tie's relationship with the town. New Canaan took care of the renovation of the storefront and the new ADA compliant bathroom while Bow Tie and New Canaan jointly did the seats and Bow Tie took care of the new projection and sound equipment. Town Council approved $45,000 for the new seating last year along with $20,000 for the new bathroom and store front window. First Selectman Jeb Walker called the partnership with Bow Tie a success for New Canaan.
"The project speaks for itself. The quality of the screens and equipment is great. The good news is the wonderful relationship with Bow Tie that the town has," Walker said. "Getting the seats in was a collaborative process. Getting the window done was a collaborative process. We worked jointly on getting the ADA compliant bathroom done. It's been a very good relationship that gets better with time as we learn how to be a landlord and they learn how to be our tenant."