One of the most infamous skating scandals in history came to the Garde Arts Center in New London, Connecticut. The hit movie I, Tonya follows the story of competitive figure skater Tonya Harding as she climbs her way to the top of the skating world against all the odds. Her life tends to be going in the right direction to becoming an Olympic champion until the infamous Nancy Kerrigan attack. On February 18th, the Garde Arts Center brought this to life bringing in people from all over.
On a bright sunny and unusually warm day in February, there was chatter in the lobby between the ushers getting in their position as the popcorn was popped. There was chatter among everyone about the hit movie coming to life. When the doors opened many more came in talking more about the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan story. Not only was the movie I, Tonya being talked about, but upcoming movies Phantom Thread on February 28th and Darkest Hour on March 1st. Some people were stopping looking at some of the posters hanging in the windows at the Garde for upcoming movies Loving Vincent on March 7th and Call Me By Your Name on March 4th.
When the theater opened everyone was welcomed into a theater while popular figure skating program music played. While they made their way to their seats photos of upcoming events like Andrew Bird on March 2nd and Lyle Lovett on March 3rd flashed on the screen. There were photos of popular events that took place in the past, as well as sponsored events the Garde had hosted. There were some photos showing the some of the employees hard at work to keep the Garde up to date for patrons coming in. There were even photos of the Garde from before the renovations like World War II campaigns and the bar during the 1950’s.
Back in the lobby, while people stopped to grab food and drinks at the bar there were some people who had stopped and looked at future posters for future events like Popovich on March 16th and David Sedaris on April 14th. But, there was a special table that showed the Garde’s active involvement in the community. Together with Bethsaida Community Inc. and Safe Futures a purple donation box was set up. Both of these fantastic outreach programs help out victims of domestic violence and homeless families who have fallen on hard times. Adorned with a bouquet of orchids many had stopped to look at the box to help out these organizations for struggling families.
When the time came for Steve Sigel to take the stage a flood of people made their way in the theater. After giving a word of welcome he made a few light jokes about the movie I, Tonya before announcing the BANFF Mountain Film Festival for Winter sports fans. He proceeded to talk about the awards and nominations I, Tonya has earned. Many people were intrigued to learn the choreography done in the movie was done by the same woman who choreographed the 2002 Winter Olympics. Then he announced the audience was in for a special treat; a short film about Wally Lamb. The popular author has written books that take place at the Garde.
When the lights went down advertisements for sponsors for the Winter Cinema Series at the Garde Arts Cinema played: Secor Subaru, Atlantic Broadband, and the Thames Heritage Museum. All of these sponsors are proud to sponsor the Garde Arts, not only for the cinema series, but many other events. Then the Wally Lamb movie had played. In this short movie filmed at the Garde he talked about his life growing up around women and how it influenced his work. He spoke about his books that take place at the Garde and popular female silent director Lois Weber. When the film finished a preview for The Shape of Water on March 9th played and the movie began.
Following the harrowing story of Tonya Harding’s life as she overcame the odds to become a champion figure skater. Remade interviews with Tonya, her mother Lavona, and ex-husband Jeff Gillooly flashed on the screen leading many to laughter and sighs of shock at the same time. When the movie had ended many people stayed in the theater to watch the credits as they were intrigued by Tonya Harding’s untold story. As people made their way outside they talked about I, Tonya along with the story. Only the Garde Arts Center could bring to life a movie like I, Tonya. The legendary movie palace in New London, Connecticut was able to bring a story like this to life.