I spent a Sunday afternoon dazzled by professional ballerinas pirouetting across a Russian stage. Two days later, I was in the audience for a lavish musical production at the Royal Opera House of London. Cost prohibitive, you ask? Not at all. What about the long flights, customs, international airports, language barriers and the exchange rate? I avoided them altogether. I went to the Ritz 13 in Columbus.
Carmike Cinemas presents another stunning season of its Ballet in Cinema and Opera in Cinema series. The concept behind the program is simple: bring world-class performances to theaters across America. Productions are streamed live via satellite and then shown again later during an “encore” night, in case you missed the original.
I was skeptical. I’ve watched old Cirque de Soleil videos on my TV and the film quality just didn’t do it justice. But the high-definition images on Carmike’s silver screen are crisp and real as life, and the cinematography is skilled.
Whether you see the live or encore screenings, the caliber is the same — stellar. But there are also a few advantages local theater-goers enjoy over their international counterparts.
Comfort: At the recently renovated Ritz 13, the seats are spacious and soft. I saw views of the tightly packed crowds on location. Believe me, we had the best seats in the house.
Convenience: There’s an element of ease at the movie theater you just don’t get at the exclusive playhouses of Europe. Attire is as formal or informal as you want. Children are welcome. English subtitles and programs are provided. And you won’t need your opera glasses because the camera zooms in close to the action.
Cuisine: While I suspect the Palais Garnier in Paris frowns on munching hot dogs mid-act, in Columbus you have a full selection of cinema food to choose from. As an added bonus, Carmike provides complimentary coffee and pastries to enjoy with the show.
Culture: You don’t need an extra ticket to go behind the scenes. During intermission there are interviews with the cast, from the star to the stagehands. Or you might learn the history of the theater or performance. You might, as I did, get a glimpse into the life of a great diva — and find out that she really is a diva.
That alone is worth the ticket price, which is $20 for ballets and $25 for operas. Groups discounts available.