To help Columbus celebrate Pride Week, Short North Stage will bring movies back to the historic Garden Theater for the first time in least three decades. Starting June 9—the Saturday before Pride Weekend—the new theater troupe will present twelve mainstream films with gay or Lesbian themes. Some either won or were nominated for Oscars; others are just fun and fitting for the upbeat mood of the week. There will be double features every night except Sunday, June 10 and Friday, June 15. (See the schedule below.) Admission is free. Beer, wine and cocktails, along with other concessions will be available.
The Pride Week Film Festival represents another way Short North Stage seeks to utilize the long-dormant Garden—once the pride of the neighborhood—for community-wide purposes beyond its primary mission of musical theater. Recently the company has used the theater to host a series of cabaret performances, a drag performer, an avant garde traveling acting troupe, a Short North flea market, a book-signing, an old-style variety show with a popular band—and next month even a local high school reunion.
If the Pride Week festival proves popular, Short North Stage plans many more movie series in the future with a variety of themes.
The Garden is the second oldest surviving theater in Columbus; only the Southern Theater is older. Construction on the main part of the building began in 1917 on the site of a carriage house and stable for the working horses of Columbus. That stable was built around 1850 and there was a paddock on most of the block. A portion of that stable and carriage house persists as the back wall and foundation of the present theater structure. Apparently the Garden was the first theater in Ohio to be air-conditioned and other aspects of the building were quite advanced for 1920 — including its reinforced concrete construction and the façade which is decorated with some of Columbus’s earliest examples of Art Deco motifs.
The Garden Theatre opened Thanksgiving Day 1920 amidst great celebration. Cellist Ferdinand Gardiner played at that day's festive matinee and again with the rest of his piano trio at a gala evening showing. The new Garden was a state-of-the-art movie house with a single screen for showing silent films (and later "talkies"), and it had a sunken garden enclosed with a fragrant boxwood hedge decorating the orchestra pit.
The theater was described as having “resplendent pale blue and copper-colored accents.” Some early 20th century maps of Columbus label the current Short North area as the Garden District. The corner of 5th and High was “the vortex of Short North social life” into the 1950’s and 60’s.
The theater was on the vaudeville circuit and then later became a burlesque house. It then became a movie theater in the 1950’s and 60’s showing Westerns and Hollywood musicals. But by the 1970’s the area was in decline and it became a venue for pornographic films. The building's facade and interior structure fell into disrepair.
In 1996 the property became home to the Garden Church and its ministries for urban youth. The group renovated portions of the building, but then moved on when the opportunity to buy a nearby church became available around 2004. A group of investors bought the building and planned to convert it to a condominium complex, but those plans never materialized, and instead used the theater auditorium for storage.
In September 2011, Short North Stage, a new professional regional theater company, reopened The Garden as a live performance, movie and events venue. It operates events in both the smaller “Green Room” cabaret space and in the partially renovated main stage area, which will be the location for the film festival. The group continues to raise funds toward the complete renovation of the main theater.
FILM FESTIVAL SCHEDULE:
Shows at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.
Doors open at 6:30.
The Garden Theater, 1187 N High Street, Columbus OH. Admission is free; donations appreciated.
June 9 – Saturday
BOYS IN THE BAND—7 p.m.
The trailblazing 1970s drama about a close-knit group of gay friends who gather for a birthday party. When the booze starts to flow—and a straight male arrives—the evening takes a turn for the bitter.
CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC –9 p.m.
The screen debut of the Village People with Olympic champion Bruce Jenner added to the mix. A New York DJ-songwriter (Steve Guttenberg) lands a record deal, and creates a new super group by bringing together six singing macho men from Greenwich Village. Based on a real story, it’s an adventure in fantasy and disco fever.
June 11 – Monday
BOYS DON’T CRY—7 p.m.
Violent and gritty, this harrowing movie won an Oscar for Hilary Swank, who plays a transgendered young man searching for love and acceptance in a small Midwestern town. Based on a true story.
THE HOURS—9 p.m.
This gripping drama follows the parallel lives of three 20th-century women: incomparable writer Virginia Woolf, an unsatisfied 1950s housewife and a modern-day book editor who's losing her former lover to AIDS.
June 12 – Tuesday
WERE THE WORLD MINE—7p.m.
When his drama teacher casts him as Puck in his school's upcoming production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Timothy (Tanner Cohen) turns in an inspired performance, whipping up a fittingly Shakespearean love potion with the power to turn people gay. He begins, of course, with the school jock -- the object of his affection.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH—9 p.m
This classic rock musical features John Cameron Mitchell as an East German rocker who becomes Hedwig after a botched sex-change operation and travels across the United States with a stage show in pursuit of her ex-boyfriend.
June 13 – Wednesday
DESERT HEARTS—7 p.m.
Uptight literature professor Vivian Bell heads to Reno in 1959 for a quickie divorce. While staying at a ranch to establish residency, Bell meets a casino worker 10 years her junior. Bell finds herself increasingly drawn to the open and self-assured lesbian, and their developing intimacy releases buried emotions Bell has never explored.
MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE—9 p.m.
This breakthrough 1986 movie featuring Daniel Day-Lewis focuses on the friendship of two young men struggling to survive in racially tenseThatcher England. Pakistani Omar and his old school chum Johnny use stolen drug money to renovate a launderette. Through their struggles they refuse to hide the sexual side of their partnership.
June 14 – Thursday
THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT—7 p.m.
The delightful 1994 fable of three Australian drag queens on their journey across the Outback in a broken-down lavender bus named Priscilla. Unparalleled fun with a disco beat, outrageous and plenty of ABBA.
GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS—9 p.m.
This comedic 2003 romp follows the intertwined stories of three roommates -- Evie, Coco and Varla -- all actresses who are struggling to claw their way up through the brutal Hollywood hierarchy. The female leads are all played by men in drag, bringing an even more outrageous perspective to the already-bawdy proceedings, which incorporate spoofs of classic films such as Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve and Mommie Dearest.
June 16 – Saturday
TORCH SONG TRILOGY—7 p.m.
This film adaptation of Harvey Fierstein's Tony Award-winning Broadway play traces three distinct episodes over a 10-year period in the life of middle-aged gay man Arnold Beckoff as he tries to find a lasting relationship. The film is a riotously funny and poignant story of an aging drag queen and his attempts to connect with someone. Anne Bancroft co-stars as Fierstein's mother along with Matthew Broderick in one of his earliest roles.
BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER –9 p.m.
In this hilarious 1999 satire, Megan Bloomfield lives a "normal" teen life as a cheerleader dating the captain of the football team. But her parents and friends suspect Megan is gay because of "clues," such as her distaste for kissing her boyfriend. Shipped off to True Directions -- a camp designed to shove her back in the closet -- Bloomfield meets tomboy Graham Eaton who helps her recognize her sexual orientation.