What do you get when you combine 1400 eclectic people in San Francisco's famous Castro neighborhood, a juried mermaid costume contest (for adults and children), 1400 pearl necklaces and 1400 jars of bubbles?
My friends, you get the Little Mermaid Sing Along at the Castro Theater.
Build in 1922, The Castro Theater is an impressive historic landmark here in San Francisco that has hosted Sing Along musicals, along with hundreds of other films and live events, for the last 80+ years. This past week, the theater hosted my all-time favorite cult classic, The Little Mermaid.
L and I walked into the theater without expectations. We knew we loved the movie as kids (loved the movie), so that was enough for us. When we were handed a colorful gift bag full of sparkly props at the door by "Ariel" herself, we knew we were in for a real treat.
The interior of the theater is classically grand -- the huge gold-embossed cathedral ceiling took my breath away. On the stage, an organist in a tuxedo played songs from the movie that reverberated throughout the theater. We took our seats and opened up our goody bags, happy to discover a golden paper crown and pearl necklace to wear right away. We also discovered a glow stick, party popper, small jar of bubbles, a silver plastic fork (dinglehopper) and a noisemaker/clapper thingy.
As people took their seats, I looked across the audience and found myself beaming as I gazed down upon hundreds of gold crowns.
"Ariel" got up on stage and kicked off the show, which began with a costume contest for children, followed by a costume contest for adults. The most beautiful man I've ever seen dressed up as Prince Eric. My childhood fantasy was brought back to life -- I still want to be part of his world.
Finally, after much anticipation, the show began. Ariel instructed to make as much noise as possible - whether through our singing or general "clean" commentary about the events on screen. L and I sat next to a hilariously rambunctious group of guys that didn't hold anything back, cat calling Ariel when she rescued Eric from the exploding ship ("Oh yes she DID!") and booing Ursula every time she appeared ("You are so UGLY I can't even stand it!").
We shook our plastic clappers every time Sebastian scurried across the screen, blew our bubbles when Ariel took her grand bath in Eric's castle and popped our party poppers when they FINALLY smooched at the end. Wow. 4,000 party poppers and streamers flying = magical, magical kiss.
I have to admit how touched I was by the music and lyrics of this movie, now that I'm seeing it as an adult. I didn't understand it all as a kid, even though I knew every word by heart.
I'm ready to know what the people know...ask 'em my questions and get some answers...What's a fire and why does it - what's the word? Burn? When's it my turn? Wouldn't I love, love to explore that world up above? Out of the sea...wish I could be...part of that world.
After the movie ended, all 1400 crowned men, women & kids left the theater and dispersed along Castro Street with their pearl necklaces still on. I felt like it was New Year's Eve, Halloween and my birthday all in one night. Thanks, Castro Theater, for keeping the kid alive in all of us and the part of us that believes that a true love's kiss is really all it takes.
I speak for everyone when I say that we look forward to many more Sing Along's together.