When people think of the Edmonds Center for the Arts, they generally think of the big acts they book — at least as big as a 700-seat auditorium can be expected to draw. Graham Nash was here not too long ago, and Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt are coming soon. Both sold out almost immediately. But the ECA is much more than that.
Among many other things, they are currently running three film series:
There’s their Saturday Matinee series, which is designed to attract young viewers. They also have a newly-minted Sunday afternoon film series that will be inaugurated a week from this Sunday with the classic film Harold and Maude.
But one of the most inspired programs they’ve developed is their Cabaret Film Series.
The idea is to pair local musical talent with classic films that have musical theme.
It puts the ECA’s state-of-the-art cinema system to good use, and helps local acts connect to a great venue.
For instance, in their first season, they got the ball rolling with West Side Story, the classic 1961 musical that featured the music of Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics of some kid named Stephen Sondheim. They paired this musical with the Jake Bergevin Quartet, which entertained cabaret guests beforehand with jazzy music including some compositions written especially for the event.
As they launch their third year, the cabaret portion of the program almost always sells out, so they’ve added tables to accommodate a total of 150 guests this year. It’s actually kind of fun just to hang out backstage where the cabaret is held.
A lot of thought goes into the pairing. There’s even a cocktail created in honor of each event — snacks, wine, beer and other beverages are also available for what is essentially a little happy hour pre-function before the movie.
Gillian Jones, who’s been with the ECA for five years, first as Education and Outreach manager and more recently as Director of Programming, searches high and low for local talent to bring to the cabaret stage.
She’s looking forward to another fun series this year.
They’ll lead off this year’s series this Thursday, Nov. 8 (6:30 p.m. cabaret, 8 p.m. film) with A Mighty Wind, (2003) directed by Christopher Guest, creator of the hilarious This is Spinal Tap and Best In Show, and Waiting For Guffman, among other films.
This mockumentary follows 1960s folk acts as they reunite to play a live TV concert at New York’s Town Hall. Guest often works with actors he’s worked with in the past. Among other familiar faces, you’ll see Eugene Levy, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr. and Jane Lynch. Lynch will be appearing at the ECA Nov. 24 when she presents her holiday show A Swingin’ Little Christmas.
To precede Thursday’s film, Jones tracked down the local musical team of Miles and Karina who came to her attention through their involvement with Northwest Film Forum. They been doing a lot of accompaniment to silent films.
Influenced by recordings from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, Miles & Karina are described as “delightfully quirkish, sometimes disturbing, often beautiful — and always entertaining.”
Performing as a quartet Thursday, they’re capable of covering virtually all American styles, with Karina on accordion, ukulele and glockenspiel, and Miles playing guitar, banjo, fiddle and percussion.
In January, look for Crazy Heart, (2009) with local band The Warren G Harding’s.
In March, Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic, (2004) with Steve Zissou.
In May, the Cabaret series will bring Pretty in Pink, but instead of a musical guest, the ECA will feature a dance. Attendees will be invited to participate in a preshow ’80s style prom. Expect to see lots of big hair, blue eye shadow, and shoulder pads!
Learn more at www.edmondscenterforthearts.org.
— By James Spangler