On August 19, I had the privilege of attending The Garde Arts Center in New London, Connecticut to see the hit movie Love & Friendship. This film was part of the Summer Film Festival at The Garde in which seventeen critically acclaimed films were shown. During the festival films such as Eye in the Sky starring Alan Rickman, The Innocents a French film, the comedy The Nice Guys and the captivating film Midnight Special. As a young child, I had participated in dance recitals and I have seen several live shows throughout the years at The Garde, but nothing compared to this moment. As I was preparing to watch my first film at The Garde, I noticed how happy everyone seemed to be. The ushers were gladly accepting the tickets given to them by the patrons, while the bartenders joyously served them. Then the lights flickered in the lobby filled with beautiful finger painted portraits; it was time to go take my seat.
As I made my way to the balcony, I noticed the house manager was making his final rounds to let people know that the film was starting. Shortly, after I sat down, Steve Sigel made his entrance to thank everyone for coming. However, this was no ordinary thanks to the audience; he had no problem welcoming the new patrons to The Garde. In a segment, he started The Garde’s Embarrassed Audience Member. In this he welcomed two new patrons who had never set foot inside The Garde Arts Center. By showing his gratitude towards them for coming he told everyone a little about each of them. One of them was a mechanic from Groton, Connecticut who has always wanted to see the inside of the theater. The other was a well known television producer from New York who was happy to be inside the historic theater for the first time. After Steve finished up with this segment, he thanked the audience and sponsors again giving the cue for the theater to darken for the show.
The reel then started with showcasing the films that were to be shown as part of their film festival and asking the audience to silence their cell phones. As the movie started the audience grew silent with the opening scene. Throughout the film, there was laughter at the jokes made about Connecticut in this Jane Austen film. You see, Love and Friendship is based on a novella by Jane Austen by the name of Lady Susan. In this film, a widower who has a reputation for being a flirt tries to make the best arrangements for her daughter while dealing with a tarnished reputation. There were many jokes that were from the 1790’s that everyone seemed to get.
As the movie ended, the lights came back on giving the audience the path to the lobby. In the lobby, the audience made their way towards the exit, but not without hearing how wonderful the film was. It seems that Love & Friendship had been shown in movie theaters, but to some of the audience members there was something special about The Garde. This historic theatre first opened the doors in 1926. There is an aura that makes The Garde Arts Center unlike any other entertainment venue in Southeastern Connecticut. With the 2016 Summer film festival screening movies including: Maggie’s Plan, Miles Ahead, A Bigger Splash, Sing Street, and The Man Who Knew Infitity, are just to show how much The Garde has taken initiative into adding culture to Southeastern Connecticut. As The Garde enters its 90th season, there is a special touch that the theater palace has to offer. My time viewing Love & Friendship at The Garde Arts Center was enjoyable as an adult same as it was when I was a child.