Gateway Film Center and Nina West Presents…

Hope Madden Hope Madden Gateway Film Center and Nina West Presents…
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Ladies and gentlemen, filmgoers and songbirds — Nina West.

Nina West Presents returns to the Gateway Film Center. Allegedly, it is “bigger, louder and sing-songier than ever!”

GFC will host Columbus’s “Super Drag Queen” and her new series of sing along musicals beginning Saturday, April 1 with The Sound of Music.

“I’ve always loved my partnership with Gateway,” said Andrew Levitt, Nina’s alter ego. “In my opinion, it is the best theater in the city. I’m really lucky, and I’m really thrilled that I get to be part it with of my own little twisted film series.”

Those who enjoyed Nina West Presents in its previous incarnation can expect some fun surprises.

“This time around it’s all sing-along films,” Levitt says. “You’ll be able to see the words on the screen, sing-along, and I’m encouraging people to come in costume.”

Why sing-alongs? Levitt said the programming came from a brainstorming meeting with GFC President Chris Hamel.

“It was just a spit-balling conversation, like what would I want to see and hear, what would I be excited about,” Levitt recalled.

“Chris and I were talking about films and about sing-along versions, so he said, ‘Wait a minute, how would you feel about doing a sing-along series?”

“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” said Levitt. “That makes complete sense, because I do show tunes on Sundays at Union Café, which is a big sing-along night. It was perfect.”

Hamel and Levitt collaborated on the lineup, which opens with Robert Wise’s 1965 Oscar winner The Sound of Music.

“The funny thing about Sound of Music is that April 1st is the day that the movie premiered in the Sixties, so it’s the anniversary, which is crazy,” he said.

“When I was a kid, Sound of Music was a family event,” Levitt said. “It’d play every Easter. We would all gather around the television when Sound of Music would come on TV.”

Nina West Presents aims to make it an event again.

“We’ll have prizes for best costume and some other surprises to enrich the participation experience for our audience,” Levitt said. “We’re working to make this a really neat and different kind of film going experience.”

You can mix and mingle with Nina before each film at 4:30 p.m.

“I’ll be talking with people about the film and getting them excited about what’s in the film,” Levitt said. “The goal is to have participation. We get to do things along with the film. Give it a little texture and make it more of a unique experience.”

Nina’s juggling more than just the film series.

“I work all over the city, actually,” Levitt said. “Opening April 21 I have a big show called Ohana (opening at Axis Nightclub), which is all about trying to bring people together during a really difficult time. It’s something that resonates with a lot of people. That’s kind of the big project I’m working on right now, other than the film series. But I’m constantly working, I’m always at Axis or Union cafe every weekend.”

In the meantime, you can fill your heart with the sound of music and mingle with Nina this Saturday.

Full line-up:
• April 1 – The Sound of Music – official sing-along version
• July 1 – Grease – official sing-along version
• Oct. 7 – Little Shop of Horrors – official sing-along version
• Dec. 23 – Nina West Holiday Pageant

Each Nina West Presents begins with a 4:30 p.m. mixer at the film center, followed by a 6 p.m. show time.

Tickets are available at gatewayfilmcenter.org

Read more from Hope at MADDWOLF and listen to her horror movie podcast FRIGHT CLUB.

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