While the Lafon Arts Center is relatively new and a cutting edge facility, it’s going old school this month for its latest event.
The center will host a Drive In doubleheader movie event on Saturday, beginning at dusk and featuring – fittingly, with Halloween around the corner – Hotel Transylvania and Addams Family Values.
Concessions will be sold at the event and proceeds will go toward the Destrehan and Hahnville high school theatre programs.
The event was result of some brainstorming sessions aimed at finding ways for the center to provide entertainment options for the community while also respecting COVID-19 restrictions and requirements.
“Of course, we’re limited on the seating we can sell in the theatre, and that restricts us from being able to provide the leading quality of entertainment people have been finding out we’ve been having during our first couple of years,” said Chris Melohn, Lafon Arts Center Director. “So we had to think a little outside the box, and came up with something we hope we can continue to provide for folks while dealing with these parameters.”
The center will have two 40 foot inflatable movie screens set up outside on the lawn facing the center, with the audience vehicles facing outward.
“Our parking lot is shallow and long, so we’re going to have two screens out there so people aren’t arching their necks over,” Melohn said.
Attendees are encouraged to dress up in costume for the event in recognition of Halloween.
“We want it to be fun and themed. Even though people are going to be in their cars and distanced, we thought it would be a fun opportunity to get dressed up, particularly for the kids. We don’t know what trick or treating will really look like, so this is a chance to wear that costume and enjoy some Halloween movies,” Melohn said.
Traditional concession items like popcorn, chips, candy and soda will be sold, but in addition to that there will be jambalaya and Subway box dinner options available for pre-order (orders must be in by 7 p.m. Friday via the Lafon Arts Center website). Outside food is not permitted, as the concession proceeds are aimed at helping DHS and HHS theatre, but one may purchase a food permit from the Lafon website to bring food and snacks from home, with those proceeds also going toward the high school theatre programs.
As for the features themselves, things kick off with Hotel Transylvania, the 2012 animated film centered around the story of Count Dracula, who owns the hotel the film is named for, a place where monsters can check in to rest from human civilization. When the human-free hotel is unexpectedly visited by a decidedly human traveler, he must hide that fact from his fellow monster, lest his hotel’s future be cast into doubt. Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez and Kevin James are among members of a star-studded cast of voice actors.
Closing the event will be the 1993 film Addams Family Values – commence snapping your fingers – the sequel to the smash hit The Addams Family that hit theatres two years prior. The comedy brings viewers back into the home of Gomez and Morticia Addams, and their children Wednesday, Pugsley and newborn Pubert, whom isn’t very well-received by his older siblings. The family hires a nanny named Debbie who has bad intentions – an eye on marrying, and killing, Uncle Fester and collecting his share of the Addams’ Family fortune. Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston and Christopher Lloyd star in the film.
Melohn said that if this month’s drive in is well received, there are preliminary plans to perhaps continue it on as a regular event.
“If all goes well, we’ll try to do a holiday themed one in December,” Melohn said. “If the community shows this is something they want, we’ll keep putting our energy into it. If not, we’ll look for other opportunities for engagement. Our sponsors have been incredible. They’ve backed us and believed in this from the beginning, and we’ve been able to do this without using any tax dollars to produce the event.”
It’s a litmus test during what is an evolving reality for the arts center, its patrons and the school system’s theatrical community. Because of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the limitations it creates, Melohn said that at the moment, it’s not known when traditional live productions will be able to take the indoor stage once again.
“Unfortunately, that’s all based on where we go with the pandemic,” he said. “The social distancing requirement doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere for the time being, so we’re kind of on standby with that. We’ve had a lot of great things on the docket for the coming year, and all of those companies are affected, whether they’re postponing tours or rebooking for the following season. We’re keeping in contact with everyone to ensure that when we do reopen, people can come enjoy all of the programs they’ve come to expect.”
In the meantime, he hopes a silver lining can be found through the brainstorming events like the drive in that could, in theory, remain in rotation even when things return to normal.
“It forces you to think outside the box and maybe in doing so, you find some programs that could become longstanding in the future,” Melohn said. “And you might look back 10 years from now and realize you found something the community loves to do.”
All tickets sold will be pre-order via the Lafon Arts Center website, and tickets will be scanned beginning at 5:30 p.m. Attendees are asked to arrive as close to 5:30 p.m. as possible and the event should last approximately 3.5 hours in total.