Hamburg Strand Theater on 4th Street offers a lineup of special events and film showings, starting with “The Lion King” July 26 to Aug. 1, the documentary “Centralia: Pennsylvania’s Lost Town” July 27 and 28, a live performance by Elvis impersonator Jeff Krick Sr. on Aug. 6 and another showing of the new German documentary “Hiwee wie Driwwe – The Roots of PA Dutch” on Sept. 15.
“We like to bring all kinds of different activities to the theater in addition to our regular features and film showings,” said Stephanie Adam, coordinator at Hamburg Strand Theater. “I’m excited about the events because it brings people from the community into the theater and creates excitement in the community.”
The response from the community for these special events has been positive, said Adam.
“Everybody is appreciative and thanks us for bringing these special events to the theater. It shows in the attendance,” she said.
Much of the lineup is by patron request.
“We’ve had a lot of popular showings of Centralia and there are still requests so we’re bringing it back for another weekend,” said Adam.
The documentary “Centralia: Pennsylvania’s Lost Town,” released in 2017, is about a small coal mining town overcome by a massive underground mine fire, as told by the people who lived through the fire. The film will be shown at Hamburg Strand on July 27 at 11 a.m. and July 28 at 1 p.m.
By popular demand, the Strand is once again showing the German documentary “Hiwee wie Driwwe – The Roots of PA Dutch” at 1 p.m. on Sept. 15. The theater received a really good response from the first showing in July.
“Everybody’s in the lobby afterward … speaking Pa Dutch,” said Adam. “English was not the common language that day.”
German filmmakers Benjamin Wagener and Christian Schega took the film on a U.S. tour this summer, including showings at the Kutztown Folk Festival, Berks History Center and Hamburg Strand. About 90 minutes long, the documentary is about the PA Dutch culture and language, its history and the Palatinate region in Germany, where much of the film was shot. About 50 percent was filmed in Germany, and the other half filmed in Pennsylvania. Large parts were filmed at the Kutztown Folk Festival two years ago.
“What is great is people will see the similarities of the people in Germany and the people here because there are so many things that are the same that it is great to see. I hope they enjoy it and they realize that all of the people are the same in some kind of way,” said Wagener during his recent visit to the Kutztown Folk Festival.
What is unique about these events is that some of these are films not shown everywhere.
“The megaplexes don’t typically show these types of movies and if they do, it does not include the interactive part of it. We put a personal touch onto the movies that we show,” said Adam.
The film “Dust Nuggets” — shot at more than 10 locations across the Berks County region and features about 100 locals as principal actors and extras — will be shown at 1 p.m. on Sept. 29. The Schott Productions film received a Berks County Community Fund Rural Arts Grant and is the first feature-length project by filmmakers Sue Lange and Andrew Pochan.
The story centers on KK Colson, manager of the Dust Nuggets band. She’s in a coma and dreaming the film’s narrative about her life with the band. There are leaps of fancy interspersed with flashbacks of reality, much like what happens in an actual dream.
Classic Movie Nights and Faith Nights also have been successful, said Adam. Classic Movies, shown the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m., include “Jailhouse Rock” on Aug. 13, “Gone with the Wind” on Sept. 10 and “Halloween 1” on Oct. 8. Faith Night movies are faith based and are preceded by an introduction by a local pastor about the film and afterward there is a faith-based Q&A discussion. Upcoming movies include “Facing the Giants” Aug. 27 and “Driving Miss Daisy” Sept. 24, at 7 p.m.
For Halloween, the Strand will show “Back Road,” a modern "cabin in the woods" horror/thriller film (not appropriate for children) at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 and 19. The annual showing of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 is usually a sold out show (advance tickets only). This includes prop bags and features an interactive experience.
Special events include crowd favorite Elvis impersonator Jeff Krick Sr. performing Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. The first 10 rows usually sell out fast. The remainder is general seating. The Elvis film “Jailhouse Rock” will be shown Aug. 13 at 7 p.m.
“He does a great performance. He has a following. He’s really authentic,” said Adam. “With Elvis we have an almost-sold out crowd.”
The special events continue with “Frozen 2” featuring Lunch with Anna and Elsa at noon on Nov. 23 (advance tickets) and the “Polar Express” Christmas Party with Santa at noon on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 (tickets at the door).
A capital campaign continues to raise funds to maintain and upgrade the theater facility. The Strand is applying for grants, for which they need matching funds, for electrical and heating projects. Much of the additional funds raised from special events go toward the capital campaign.
For more information, visit http://hamburgstrand.org/.