The idea of making a movie screening into an interactive event sounds simple. After all, families do it all the time, when they shout dialogue back to favorite characters at home in the comfort of the TV room.
It's another thing entirely to buy a ticket to an outdoor screening, dress up as a movie character and throng on a hillside with others to sing along with Julie Andrews in the beloved (although critically trashed) 1965 film "The Sound of Music." (Judith Crist labeled the film "icky-sticky"; Walter Kerr called the stage musical "too sweet for music"; Pauline Kael wrote the movie was the kind of "sugar-coated lie people seem to want to eat," an opinion that allegedly got her dismissed from McCall's magazine.)
The Park City Performing Arts Foundation is closing its summer season by staging the "Sing-Along Sound of Music," an outdoor screening hosted by Heather Menzies Urich, a Park City resident who as a teenager played Louisa in the film. Kym Karath, who played Gretl, will join Urich to sign copies of the The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook, published by the actors who portrayed the Von Trapp siblings in the movie.
"We want to create an event that was so clearly for families," said Teri Orr, the foundation's artistic director. "We love the idea of trying to present a movie outdoors we wish we could all be in convertibles with little speakers hung on the side. And Park City loves nothing more than dressing up."
Others might be skipping the costume part, but still want to participate in the fun. Orr mentioned a staff member who plans to wear a name tag saying: "Me, a Name I Call Myself."
The idea that grew into a company hosting interactive movie sing-alongs was born nearly 15 years ago, when residents at a retirement home in Scotland loved singing along to "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," said Ben Freedman, producer of the for-profit Sing-a-Long-a Productions, based in the United Kingdom.
The company hosts 50 events annually in North America and about 200 in the rest of the world. This summer, a Sing-a-Long-a event sold out the Hollywood Bowl for the seventh year in a row.
In a state like Utah that loves to sing, making movies into events is becoming something of a tradition, according to Jim Faulkner, marketing director of the Salt Lake Film Society. The local nonprofit has been hosting a "Sing With Maria" event in December since 2009. "We've noticed a lot of people returning year after year to 'Sound of Music,' and people request different movies," Faulkner said. Next up? "Sing with ABBA: 'Mamma Mia!' on Sept. 29.
The Film Society launched its series out of another famously interactive movie experience: "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," the 1975 cult classic that has been screened locally at Halloween for more than 20 years.
The events include a prop bag and costume parties along with your ticket, but the real thrill, Faulkner said, "is being able to sing freely in a crowd where everyone is letting loose."
Have fun singing 'Do-Re-Mi'
The Park City Performing Arts Foundation presents "Sing-Along Sound of Music," hosted by Heather Menzies Urich, a Park City resident who as a teenager played Louisa in the film, and Kym Karath, who played Gretl in the film. They will sign copies of the The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook, published by the actors who portrayed the Von Trapp siblings in the movie.
When • Saturday, Sept. 1; gates open at 4:30 p.m.; costume contest, vocal warmups and book signing; screening at 7 p.m.
Where • Deer Valley Snow Park Amphitheater, 2250 Deer Valley Drive, Park City
Tickets • $15 general admission, $25 reserved seating; at 435-655-3114 or at the venue. Discounted tickets are available for children under 16 and seniors.
Also • Coolers are permitted; 9-inch height restriction on chairs
Take a chance on 'Sing With ABBA'
The Salt Lake Film Society hosts a costume party and interactive screening of "Sing with ABBA: 'Mamma Mia!' " before the return of its annual "Sing With Maria" screening in December.
When • Saturday, Sept. 29, 2 and 6 p.m.
Where • Tower Theatre, 876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $5 tickets, with $10 donation, at the door