At The Bedford Playhouse, a different kind of moviegoing experience awaits
In 1947, the Bedford Playhouse opened its doors to the public, and to the consternation of some locals. An editorial at the time cautioned, “it may change our way of living by bringing crowds from the outlying districts.”
Seventy-five years later, the Bedford Playhouse is still in operation. Now, though, its leaders hope the nonprofit center’s films, arts programs, events, and updated bar and cafe will draw crowds from all across Northern Westchester and Fairfield counties.
The Playhouse carries first-run and classic films, and caters to the moviegoing experience with a 4K projector and surround sound. “The experience is immersive,” Dan Friedman, director of development for the Bedford Playhouse, said. “It’s a 37-foot screen. If you’re a movie fan, there are films that you’re going to want to see in that theater because the experiences can’t be replicated, even if you have an outstanding home theater set-up.”
In addition to films, the Playhouse hosts live music, stand-up comedy and author talks. Earlier this month, the Playhouse held a live stage reading of The Tin Man, a play from Katherine Ambrosio, followed by a Q&A with the playwright. The Playhouse has also hosted trivia nights, a Classic Tuesdays series featuring Academy Award-winning movies, and a “Let’s Talk” series with guest speakers focused on mindfulness and self-love.
“Everything outside of first-run films has been built up based on audience request,” Friedman said. “Even though most of what we do is film related, we do try to do as much arts and culture programming per year as the schedule and weather permits.”
While many theaters were forced to shutter during the pandemic, Friedman said the Playhouse remained afloat through the help of supporters. “The community has been very generous to us and opened up their wallets when it came time for donations,” he said.
As COVID-19 restrictions have eased, patrons have continued to show support by slowly making their way back for in-person events. Friedman said that the Playhouse is cautiously optimistic about its ability to make steady progress back to pre-pandemic levels of attendance.
Returning patrons will encounter a number of improvements to the Playhouse, including a bar and cafe with a menu designed by Bedford-based chef Matt Safarowic.
“The Playhouse Cafe is an important part of our facility because it gives the audience members and non-audience members the opportunity to enjoy food, have refreshments and small bites and provides a great ambience for the facility,” Friedman said. “When we do live music, we always try to have a schedule for the cafe so that people who are either coming or going to the performance can enjoy it.”
The Cafe primarily serves dinner, and the bar is open most evenings, though Friedman said that they hope to begin opening earlier for coffee and lunch as business picks up.
“I would encourage people, if they haven’t been and they are comfortable coming to the movies again, to give it a shot,” said Friedman. “I think once they come in and experience it, they’ll put us on their rotation for theaters that they frequent.”