This year marks the third annual ‘A Very Melba Christmas’ presented by the Melba Theater of Batesville, with the assistance of local business partners.
The 2018 edition of the series consists of 10 different movies with 17 showings beginning on Friday, Nov. 23 with The Star. The animated film tells the story of Jesus’ birth through the perspectives of the animals surrounding the event.
The Star, showing Friday, Nov. 23, as part of “A Very Melba Christmas”
Thanks to community business partners, “A Very Melba Christmas” series movies are offered free to the public while seats last. The theater holds 410 and can accommodate six wheelchairs. (The Dec. 2 fundraising screening of The Santa Clause will have a $5 ticket charge. More info below.)
“Doors open one hour before showtime and often times the line begins forming before our workers have even arrived to prepare for the show,” says Adam Curtwright, who along with his wife, Mandi, and fellow partners Janelle and Joe Shell, is a co-owner of the Melba. “To see the excitement on the kids faces, and honestly their parent’s faces as well, makes all the hard work and preparation worth it.”
It’s more than simply booking the films and popping the popcorn. The Curtwrights and Shells have recruited more staff, scheduled dozens of school groups, contacted local businesses for partnerships and of course, decorated the interior and exterior of the theater to add to the overall ambiance. “We want our decorations to flow with and compliment the wonderful lights put on by the city,” Joe Shell proudly states. “It’s a lot of work but something we are very proud of.”
Adding to the overall experience last year was fake snow. Thanks to Precise Heating & Air, Mandi Curtwright’s dream of a snowy Christmas came true. “We wanted to create something to take our movie goer’s experience over the top and the fake snow was perfect,” she said. The machines were sponsored by Precise and were positioned above the marquee so that as attendees exited the theater, they would walk out to a gentle snowfall. “It was magical,” said Mandi.
Another special surprise this year was confirmation that actor Judge Reinhold will return with a screening of the Disney hit, The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen on Sunday, Dec. 2, for a fundraiser event benefiting The Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranches. “We loved having Judge Reinhold attend previously and are excited to have him return,” says Janelle Shell. “He was so down to earth and answered audience questions which was very cool.”
Reinhold, who co-stars as “Neal” in the film, is best known for his roles in the Beverly Hills Cop series, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and television’s Seinfeld. Reinhold is also encouraging attendees to bring an unwrapped Christmas present appropriate for ages 6-18 for the children who live at the Ranch.
Reinhold in The Santa Clause, which screens Sunday, Dec. 2, as part of “A Very Melba Christmas.” The actor will make a special appearance at the screening.
“The Youth Ranch has been around for over 40 years,” said Reinhold. “The children who live here come from all over the state. Even though they aren’t with their biological families, the staff loves them and raises them like their own family, and they are proud to live at the Ranch.”
Tickets for this special benefit screening are $5 each and can be purchased at the door or at the Melba’s website here. One-hundred percent of each ticket sold will be donated to the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches.
It has also been confirmed that “Cousin Eddie” and his rundown RV will be back as well to celebrate National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation which is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 9, and Thursday, Dec. 20. Each year, Brad Cheatham has donned the bathrobe and entertained guests as one of the film’s most colorful characters as they wait in line.
Visit melbatheater.org or the Melba Theater Facebook page for updates and information.