The owners of Tin Pan Theater will slide back the old timey metal door to their new space off Tin Pan Alley this Friday and, in doing so, revive the good old American tradition of going to the movies.The art walkers that file in will belly up to the small handcrafted wooden bar marked by pine inlays on walnut for beer and popcorn. They'll slide into old red velvet chairs from the Hollywood Theater in Portland. They'll grow quiet as the room is darkened by heavy black curtains sliding over large windows on the alley. They'll turn their eyes to the small screen and watch a movie.
"We're trying to bring back that old style of entertainment," said Esme LaVoy, who co-owns the theater with her partner Micah LaVoy, founder and former co-owner of Sparrow Bakery and Bread LaVoy.
First Friday's open house is the first time the two will open the theater to the public. They will run a 10-minute trailer for Occupied Cascadia, a documentary filmed by a friend of the couple, every hour on the hour between 5 and 8 p.m.
Regular showings will begin Tuesday, April 10, with early, evening and late night movies. The first films to run will be Melancholy with Kirsten Dunst, Crazy Horse about a strip club in Paris, and Man with a Movie Camera, a Russian silent film with no actors and no story.
"We're not hitting any of the movies the other theaters have," said Micah LaVoy.
Instead, they are focused on "original programming" bringing some films people recognize, but many from off the beaten path, they said.
Their bread and butter will be documentaries, independent films, locally made films, foreign films and "some of the artsy mainstream films," which they hope will generate conversation for patrons.
"We're wanting to really create a space where there is culture," said Esme LaVoy. "Where after the movie you want to bring your friends to it because you want your friends to discuss it with you."
It's not all deep and meaningful, though. They're planning to offer Cult Classic midnight showings starting later in the spring with films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They'll do Spaghetti Western nights with all you can eat spaghetti, and Saturday morning cartoons, too.
"We are trying to just hopefully hit a huge demographic of people," said Micah LaVoy.
Food, beer and wine will also be served, with a focus on local products and drinks.
The larger goal is to establish a quality, lasting business that the two could grow into a regional venture with other boutique theaters in other cities. If that works, the two hope to pass the business on to their kids. Esme has three children from a previous relationship and the two are expecting a baby due in July.
"It's the whole Ma and Pa concept," said Esme LaVoy. "But, a fun business that they might actually be into," added Micah.
In the meantime, the two will focus on cementing the theater's role in the community by hosting other events like author readings, musical events and a space for discussions about community issues.
As hokey as it sounds, the two hope Bendites will take ownership of the new theater as their own- that's how they already see it.
"It's not ours," said Esme LaVoy. "It's the community's."
Tin Pan Theater
869 NW Tin Pan Alley, Bend