The Beacon Theatre in Burns Lake recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. The week of Feb.21 to Feb. 27 saw numerous feature films, a concert, and a special Frozen II sing-a-long happen, all as a way to mark the years that have passed with a touch of fun.
Trevor Stewart, a member of the Lakes District Film Appreciation Society (the organization that runs the theatre now) helped organize some of the events, including the concert.
“The night started out with a band called the Barkers… they do kind of folk music and also a bit of country… Later in the ngiht we had this band Celtic Clover, who are sort of an Irish trio,” Stewart said of some of the performances at the concert.
“And I hired two youth musicians to play the youth performance because, you know, if you don’t have an idea how, then I think it’s really hard to find a place in Burns Lake to play,” he added.
Stewart is a musician himself, and still quite young—being only 20 years old—so knows the difficulties young performers can experience in finding work around the town.
The two youth musicians he hired were Elizabeth Phair and Courtney Wainwright.
Busking for Beacon ended with a bang, too, he said, with a performance from a local legend.
“We have been fortunate enough to have this woman, Thea Neumann, come to our community, who is a trained jazz singer. And she’s just an incredible performer, and just has a beautiful voice,” said Stewart.
Throughout the week, the Film Society brought in films like Judy—Judy Garland’s biography picture; Parasite—a Korean dark comedy thriller, which won Best Picture of the Year at the 2020 Oscars; a recorded live performance of a one-woman show called Fleabag; All the King’s Men, which was released the year the Beacon Theatre first opened (and won multiple Academy Awards in 1950, including Best Picture); and a Met Opera Film; in addition to the Frozen 2 showing, where they played the film, and had song lyrics scroll across the screen for kids to read, when the songs came on.
Parasite is somewhat controversial, because of its dark nature. But Stewart is happy the Film Society chose to show it. Be forewarned, there is some murder involved, but it’s also extremely well done, he said.
“it’s a very funny movie, but also shocking in some parts,” he said. “I think it’s important as the Film Society to bring in something like that, that pushes people boundaries and challenges people’s perspective on just what a movie could be,” he added.
According to John Illes, treasurer of the Film Society, part of the reason they hosted the Busking for Beacon concert was to generate funds to pay for a new roof and new trusses on the theatre. If the repairs aren’t made by Oct. 15 of this year, they will have to close it for the winter, he said.
Overall, Illes feels the celebration week was a success.
“We were not expecting large numbers of attendees. Our large attendance figures are usually seen for Disney animated features or super-hero movies,” he said in an email to Black Press.
“I think the thing that I enjoyed the most was the variety. Usually the Beacon shows only one movie per week and sometimes two. This week we showed seven different features! – this gives us a chance to show movies that we normally would never be able to do like Parasite and Judy both academy award winners,” he wrote.
As for the Frozen II turn out, it wasn’t huge, but it was an enthusiastic crowd.
“Turn out has been smallish for Frozen II, averaging around 20 children. But they were definitely singing at the top of their lungs. I must admit that it is pretty cute,” said Illes.