News Column

Free music and movies event comes to Bradenton

July 7, 2013


July 07--A lot of people have gotten used to watching movies at home. Realize Bradenton and the Manatee Players are trying to bring people back to the theater.

Starting later this month, the two groups will jointly sponsor a Sunday series called "Music & Movies" at the Manatee Performing Arts Center that will pair live music and popular films.

"It's a way for us to give these movies a theatrical flair," said Janene Witham, executive director of the Manatee Players. "And it's a way for us to showcase a nontraditional use of our space and to bring in a new audience base."

Best of all, the three events scheduled thus far in the series are free.

It gets going July 21 with a screening of "Fried Green Tomatoes," the 1991 film that stars Kathy Bates as an unhappy housewife and Jessica Tandy as a lonely nursing home resident who enthralls Bates with her stories. The Wirebeaters, a Manatee County bluegrass band, will play before the film.

Next up is "Chicago," the Academy Award-winning adaptation of the Kander and Ebb musical that stars Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Jazzvocalist Eve Caballero and performers from the

Manatee Players will entertain. That show is set Aug. 18.

Finally, on Sept. 15, is "The Birdcage," Mike Nichols' remake of "La Cage aux Folles" starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Opening for that film is actor Berry Ayers as Beneva Fruitville, who's best known as the host of drag queen bingo nights at area venues. This one's not suitable for kids.

For all three events, the music starts at 6 p.m. and the movie starts at 7 p.m. Food (such traditional movie fare as popcorn and hot dogs) and beverages will be on sale.

Something some people may not realize about the new Manatee Performing Arts Center is that it features a state-of-the art movie system with a digital projector and surround sound.

Witham said the performing arts center offers a cinematic experience as good as in any movie theater.

A quarter-million-dollar grant from the Selby Foundation enabled the center to purchase the system.

This three-show series is kind of a trial balloon, Witham said. If it proves popular with audiences, "Music & Movies" could become a permanent, year-round part of the center's programming.

Manatee Performing Arts Center is at 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. Advance tickets for "Music & Movies" won't be available, but the Manatee Players' box office at 941-748-5875 is the place to call for more information.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow


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