Saturday, 10 April 2010

A trip to the Plaza

Last night myself and my good friend Layla went to Stockport's beautiful art deco Plaza Cinema to watch Blue Murder at St Trinnian's.

The Plaza is one of those treasures that is right on your doorstep, yet not that well known about. Let me tell you about our evening:

We met outside the entrance in front of glass panelled doors under an awning lit up with old school light bulbs. The whole building is very impressive from the outside, and I felt excited to be seeing a film inside. I could imagine how it might have felt going to the cinema back in the day, when it was a big event at the end of the week.

After being greeted by the doorman and buying our tickets (a very reasonable £6 each) we made our way upstairs to the fully restored tearooms. A riot of pearl colours, and mint green wicker met my eyes! Apparently the tearoom has been decorated exactly as it was back in its heyday, by using photos of the time, even the carpet is of the art deco style, and wouldn't look out of place on an episode of Poirot.

We had to drink our teas fast so as not to miss the organist who played until 7.30pm. Imagine taking your seats in a grand ornate art deco jewellery box whilst having a man play the organ which rises from the floor all lit up in pinks and creams! Our seats were in the upper circle which meant we got a great view of the entire interior, including the columns and screens decorating the walls and the beautiful emboidered stage curtain. (A gift from one of the patrons so Layla tells me)

As the organist slowly lowered back into the floor the lights dimmed and the curtains opened... and we were treated by a comedy short of Laurel and Hardy! The audience loved it and it was good to see the duo of decades ago can still have a crowd in stitches!

After a short interval where ice cream was available to buy from round the neck of an usherette, the main film began. Blue Murder at St Trinian's was made in 1957 and has an all star cast of British comedy greats including George Cole as Flash Harry, Joyce Grenfell as an incompetent police woman and the ever seductive rogue Terry Thomas! But that wasn't all, the 'school swot' was played by Stockport's very own blonde bombshell Sabrina! A woman with an 17inch waist(!), Sabrina was the Northwest's answer to Jayne Mansfield. Despite being billed next to Alistair Simms (another favourite) she was only in the film for a few minutes, reclining on a bed reading a book while awe struck policemen 'searched' her room.

The film was brillinat fun and got lots of laughs. I was quite shocked when the picture began to flicker then race then stop altogther. But this minor technical hiccup only added to the authenticity of visiting a fully functioning vintage cinema. The picture was soon back on the screen and we were once again able to immerse ourselves in diamond thefts, Itallian royality and sexy schoolgirls in VERY short skirts!

We had a fab night and I would highly recommend a visit to anyone else with a penchant for vintage style, classic old school and a longing for the good old days!


Gerald (Hyde DP) said...

By eck I saw that picture at the local flea-pit first time round. I've been watching the facade of Plaza unveil itself over the last year or so. Some friends went to see a show there a few weeks ago and were full of praise for the restoration work.

Gemma Parker said...

Yes it is impressive at the Plaza and that film is so good, they certainly don't make them like that anymore!

Kittie Howard said...

What a fun evening. Your description made me feel as though I was right there with you. I'm thinking, as you hinted at, that the film flickered on purpose, just like before. And no one does comedy like the Brits, absolutely no one! I'm so happy when our PBS station shows one of your comedies...I mean, the wit, the fun, just delightful. And what a beautiful post this is, thank you!

Gemma Parker said...

Thank you Kittie! The film was shown on the original projector and actually had a mishap causing the film to speed up and stop! But as I say it worked, it made me appreciate the evening even more. I love to think that that could have actually happened the first time the film was shown, but I'm sure the audience would have been less hey-ho about it back then! :)
I'm so glad you've had similar showings where you live!***