film & tv
12:00 AM EST
October 21, 2011
You can see the Bolshoi Ballet perform The Nutcracker in Moscow, the Royal Ballet perform Romeo & Juliet in London and Don Giovanni at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and you won't have to spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets.
For $25, Cleveland Cinemas' Cedar Lee Theatre will take you to stages throughout the world for a performance of a classic opera or ballet.
"HD makes you feel as though you're actually in the theater watching a live production," says Jonathan Forman, president of Cleveland Cinemas. "You get a close-up of somebody dancing or singing that you wouldn't actually see if you were in row ZZ at the theater."
Three years ago, Emerging Pictures, a company that broadcasts live and recorded performances from some of the most famous theaters in the world via satellite, approached Forman about working with the Cedar Lee. With attendance down, he saw it as an inventive way to bring in new customers.
Having heard of other theaters that served hotdogs and beers while showing sporting events, Forman even served hors d' oeuvres and champagne at some of the Cedar Lee's early showings. "We found that opera aficionados come purely for opera; they don't want any of the amenities," he says.
Since its start, Forman says turnout has been great, even when live performances require theatergoers to come out as early as 10 a.m. Several hundred people showed up for a live performance of the Bolshoi Ballet's The Nutcracker last holiday season. The Bolshoi Ballet will perform The Sleeping Beauty Nov. 20 and 23 and The Nutcracker again Dec. 21.
"If there's something that's really of interest to the public, they'll show up," Forman says. "Even if it's not at a conventional theater-going hour."