Post-Edwardian English aristocracy meets mid-20th century American modernism Friday evening when Richland’s Uptown Theatre plays host to the fifth-season premier of PBS’s Downton Abbey.
The Uptown Theatre is among 130 movie houses across the country showing the season premier of the British period piece ahead of its Jan. 4 U.S. start date.
The fifth season has been unfolding on British television screens since late September.
Friday’s event starts with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by the screening at 7 p.m. Both are free to attend. Showgoers are encouraged to dress in 1920s fashion for the reception, which should see the theater’s lobby turned into a Roaring ‘20s shindig.
“It won’t be the ‘20s necessarily in England, but the ‘20s here,” said Tom Hungate, a program manager with PBS-member station Northwest Public Television at the Washington State University-Tri-Cities campus.
Walla Walla’s Gesa Power House Theatre also is holding a preshow gala and screening Friday. The gala begins at 5:30 p.m., and a limited number of tickets are available for $50 apiece. The screening begins at 7:30 p.m.
In Richland, EastLake Church began leasing the Uptown Theatre earlier this year, a move that helped rejuvenate the old movie house that sat vacant for about a decade.
EastLake uses the building for its Sunday services, while the concert promoting group MUX stages shows at the theater. MUX promoted its first concert at the Uptown Theatre in early October.
“It’s going to be our first non-concert event here,” said Brent Johnson, a teaching pastor with EastLake Church.
Johnson hopes the Downton Abbey showing introduces a new segment of Richland to the Uptown Theatre’s happenings.
“You’re typical NPR listener and the target audience for this is probably educated and older,” Johnson said, drawing a contrast to the younger concertgoers who might attend a show at the theater.
The Downton Abbey season four premier was held at the Richland Players’ theater last year and attracted nearly 200 people.
Hungate is hoping for 200 to 250 this year. The change in venues mainly came about by happenstance. PBS and Masterpiece organizers had hoped to return to the Players theater, but the venue was unavailable. Johnson said he was approached by a PBS representative this fall who was interested in having the event at the Uptown Theatre.
“This is more them pursuing us, which is kind of cool,” Johnson said.
The Friday showing of Downton Abbey is book-ended by two other holiday events at the Uptown Theatre.
As part of Richland’s annual Winterfest, the Uptown Theatre will be showing two holiday classics — It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story — from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday. On Dec. 6, community members will be able to take photos with Santa Claus in the theater’s lobby from 2 to 4 p.m.
More information about the Downton Abbey showing is available by calling Sarah McDaniel, Northwest Public Television’s membership director, at 800-922-4220.