Letter to Editor: The Strand Theatre, a great treasure

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Dear Editor,

Your recent article on The Strand Theatre and Westside Theatre Foundation (WTF) obtaining a lease from the new owners of the building that has long housed this treasure of Vicksburg was a welcomed relief.

First, COVID and then new ownership of the building created intense uncertainty and stress about the continuance of the insightful and thought-provoking entertainment offered there.

This new lease, even if significantly more costly than previous, lifts the concern that many of us in the community had that entertainment we valued would be lost. Entertainment offered at The Strand is wide-ranging with facets appealing to myriad interests, styles, and tastes. Presentations such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show (whether as the movie or live theatre), Manhattan Shorts, the annual screening of Oscar Nominated Shorts, Opera on Sunday afternoons, edgy thought-provoking live theatre, music in many forms including expert discussion of the Beatles’ discography, the occasional free movie, classics from the past such as those directed by Hitchcock, kitten video, recent Oscar-nominated and often winning films that were not screened locally, foreign films, Indie films produced in Mississippi; I could fill your paper with so many more examples of entertainment that was in jeopardy had a lease not been forthcoming.  We in Vicksburg are lucky to have this treasure so ably crafted and nourished by Jack Burns and Daniel Boone.

But even as this major obstacle to continuance has been hurdled, sustainment is based on participation by us, the theatergoers. This weekend Los Hermanos/The Brothers, a documentary film about two brothers, who are extremely gifted musicians, separated by the geopolitical chasm created by the estranged relationship of Cuba and the United States will be screened.  The genre-bending score by Aldo, one of the brothers, is electrifying and worth the ticket price just to hear his amazing music.  The following weekend the 25th-anniversary screening of 1996 Oscar winner Fargo, a dark comedy (not for everyone) will occur. Then on the 12th of June, the Strand presents a documentary on the life and art of the global icon Frida Kahlo.  On 10 July, comes my favorite offering, Howard Hawks’s Bringing Up Baby; a screwball nonsensical comedy from the past starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. I urge you and your readers to check out the whole summer schedule through the Strand website and FaceBook page so you may appreciate the broad appeal and depth of entertainment offered and select the ones you will attend.

As one last plug for The Strand: the variety of craft beer is delicious, and the popcorn is fragrant and always free.

Respectfully,

John Martin

Vicksburg, Miss.