On the opening night one half of the entrepreneurial duo behind the scheme Esther Patterson told the assembled guests of family, friends and contractors that it had been a fantastic journey from the start to now and that she hoped they would enjoy what it would bring to the town.
By last night Esther was still busy greeting VIP guests to the venue and pinching herself to make sure it was all true. They had got the seats in. The sound system was working and they were serving bubbly and nibbles to an appreciative audience gasping with delight at the decor.
“I am so happy. I can’t really believe we are here but we are and I am so delighted everyone loves it,” she said.
Stepping inside the building which is to house Wirksworth’s new cinema is like finding yourself in The Tardis.
It is amazing how vast the former Weston’s electrical shop is and it’s no surprise the duo behind the project realised its great potential when they first saw it. You wouldn’t recognise it from few weeks ago as now it is stunningly decorated and buzzing with energy.
Esther’s husband and the other half of the team, Paul Carr, was always more laid back about the scheme and confident they would make it. He was right but now he is at pains to thank everyone who helped them get to the opening night – from builders and electricians to volunteers who scrubbed, cleaned, painted and even refurbished the wonderful cinema seats.
The business savvy couple bought the former shop with the intention of using the top floor as a studio for Esther’s other business – hand-blown glass lighting, Curiousa & Curiousa.
“We had always wanted to open a cinema and we realised the ground floor, which was dark and cool, was the perfect space – so then it was just a case of sorting out planning permission,” said Paul.
Wirksworth has been without a cinema since 1967 when the original one in what is now Stone’s Builders Merchants closed its doors.
The couple reckon that is plenty long enough and intend to bring the glamour of the big screen back to the town in style with all the trimmings and quite a bit more.
The auditorium has 52 seats with three delux vintage sofas on the back row, six eclectic armchairs and 40 refurbished 1930s cinema seats.
There is a bar and food in a spacious café area, which will be serving tapas style snacks, cakes and ice cream.
“The bar blends the best of British with a touch of Manhattan – think kitchen sink drama meets Woody Allen,” said Esther.
Each month there will be themed events nights which might involve a live performance, dressing up, comedy or even links to the National Theatre and Wirkworth’s twin towns in France and Germany.
Working alongside the couple are Isabel Cordero Padilla who is responsible for the front of house and Dan Patterson who has been behind the cinema’s website.
Since embarking on the project the team have been busy building an audience and making sure it is one of the main subjects on the lips of Derbyshire film fans.
The opening night film was the classic – A Streetcar Named Desire starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh.
Even this decision has a link to the past. “In a great photo of the original cinema in its heyday this was the film on show so we figure we are bringing it back full circle,” said Paul.
Tickets and the full July programme are online at http://www.thenorthernlightcinema.co.uk where you can also become a member.
For pictures of the opening night go to http://on.fb.me/12OHng0
Artsbeat will be talking to cinemagoers this week and comments and pictures will be in the August issue.