Thursday, February 10, 2011

Susannah York; and the VIP experience

I was saddened by the death of British stage and film actress Susannah York. She died Jan. 15 from advanced bone marrow cancer, a week after turning 72. For me as for many others York, like Julie Christie, was emblematic of British film in the era of the Swinging Sixties (remember those?) She had roles in some of the most memorable films of the era including Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963) and A Man for All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann, 1966). I’ll especially remember her in The Killing of Sister George (Robert Aldrich, 1968) where she played the young innocent sex toy Alice 'Childie' McNaught to Beryl Reid’s June 'George' Buckridge . Over the past decade I was fortunate to catch York perform live at The Ark in Ann Arbor, where she took her touring The Loves of Shakespeare’s Women performing soliloquies from female roles of the Bard. RIP Susannah.

Meanwhile I was in London Ontario last month and saw what high end movie going was all about. I attended a screening of Barney’s Version at Westmount Cineplex, one of three Ontario theatres to have a separate VIP section. Sure, you pay five dollars more ($16.25) compared to a regular adult ticket. But it might be worth it especially if you’re planning a night on the town. (Good thinking Cineplex!) First of all you enter the VIP section from the main lobby. There are glazed doors that automatically open after you pay your ticket. You enter an upscale environment not unlike a nightclub or trendy art gallery. There is a long bar and numerous lounge tables and chairs. The area has its own restrooms - natch. The theatres themselves feature bigger more comfortable and reclining chairs and smaller auditoriums. They’re 100 seats each. When buying your tickets you’re shown an illuminated screen seating chart and  pick your seats. The seats have adjoining tables where you put food and beverages including alcohol. Prior to the start of the movie servers come to your seat to take food and drink orders. Menus include five cocktails such as the Cineplex Caesar ($6.95) and foods like the Deluxe Nachos and Smoked Turkey Ciabatta each under $7. A Cineplex spokeswoman said the VIP auditoriums sell out “ahead of any other auditorium showing the same film.” But it makes sense. Why split your time going out to eat and drink somewhere else and then drive to the cinema when you can have it all in one place?

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