The Curtain Rises on A New Playhouse Experience


By Peter Barhydt

The show must go on and it will. The Playhouse, a cherished landmark for generations, is reopening its doors after an extensive renovation. Under the stewardship of Cinema Lab, led by CEO Luke Parker Bowles, The Playhouse aims to redefine the movie-going experience with a blend of nostalgia and modern comfort.

While the four walls of the playhouse remain the same, when you walk through the doors everything is new.

“The essence of The Playhouse is community,” Parker Bowles said during a recent walkthrough of the facility with the New Canaan Sentinel. “We wanted to create a space where families can come together, enjoy a meal, watch a movie, and simply relax. It’s not just about the films; it’s about the entire experience.”

One of the standout features of the newly revamped Playhouse is its diverse concessions offering. “We have our own concessions. We have amazing empanadas, popcorn, pizza, and chicken fingers,” Parker Bowles noted.

The layout is designed with families in mind. “This is really the concessions’ part, so if you’re a family, it’s easy to come in this way, get all your food, and then go straight into the theater,” he explained.

Adjacent to the concessions area is The Playhouse Pub, a cozy spot for adults to unwind. The space, designed by Daniela Parker Bowles and her partners, Kristen Childs and Alicia Bohn of DNA, and will feature both indoor and outdoor seating. “Four round tables that are going to be 40 inches that seat four to five and then two long tables that seat eight each,” Parker Bowles remarked. The space’s versatility allows it to be rented out for various events, ensuring it remains a lively and functional part of the venue.

The heart of The Playhouse is its theaters, which have been upgraded with the latest technology to provide an unparalleled viewing experience. “We have 12 speakers in each theatre, which allows for a rich auditory experience. From that speaker you can hear the birds, and from that speaker you can hear the person cry out, so you’re actually leaning in rather than sitting back,” Parker Bowles explained.

The seats, lush and deep are sourced from Holland, offer comfort without the bulkiness of full recliners. “We don’t believe in full recliners. Our seat go back to the perfect angel to enjoy the show,’ he said, emphasizing the balance between comfort and space efficiency.

The Playhouse aims to be more than just a cinema. It’s envisioned as a community hub where residents can gather, work, and socialize. Brandon Jones, Chief Marketing Officer said, “We have Wednesdays; it’s closed to members, and we have event nights. And also, people that have birthday parties or whatever. We are already have 36 bookings for the space.”

Looking ahead, The Playhouse has an exciting lineup of films and events. “We have Despicable Me, Fly Me to the Moon, Twisters, Deadpool and Wolverine in August, Harold and the Purple Crayon,” Jones listed. He highlighted “Fly Me to the Moon” as a must-see, praising its engaging story and strong performances.

The Playhouse will also host alternative programming, including live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and the National Theater from London. “We will do other programming. We do retrospective film series. We do have sensory-friendly film series. We do First Friday Frights, where you bring in a horror film,” Parker Bowles elaborated.

The reopening of The Playhouse signifies a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation. Parker Bowles and his team have meticulously crafted a venue that respects its storied past while looking forward to the future.

“This town, I feel like really comes alive Friday afternoons where the kids are out of school and they’re riding their bikes, they’re walking up to the town center,” said Brandon Jones. “And this is a safe place where people can go and meet up.”

As The Playhouse prepares to welcome back the community, the excitement is palpable. It’s more than a cinema; it’s a place to create memories, one film at a time.

With its grand reopening set for this weekend, The Playhouse is set to become a cornerstone of New Canaan’s cultural and social scene. Under Parker Bowles’ leadership, it promises to offer a unique, multifaceted experience that caters to all ages and interests. As the marquee lights up once again, it signals not just the return of a beloved venue, but the dawn of a new era for community entertainment.

For more information on upcoming shows and memberships, visit The Playhouse’s official website or follow them on social media.

Next week the New Canaan Sentinel will have coverage from this Thursday’s red carpet opening night.

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