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'West Side Story' launches 'Cine Brunch' season in Oakmont

| Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010

Randy Collins says he wants to remind us of how powerful the medium of film is in our lives.

One way the manager of The Oaks Theater plans to do that is by continuing, with the support of Oakmont Carnegie Library, a second season of the family friendly "Cine Brunch" series, introduced last fall.

Once a month, beginning Saturday with 1961's "West Side Story," the Oaks again will serve brunch and host a classic film.

Collins says the response has been positive and attendance grew steadily, with November's "The Sound of Music" and December's "White Christmas" brunches selling out and October's "Rear Window" showing strong interest.

"In general, people were very enthusiastic about the brunch being a new and exciting way to experience classic films," he says.

The goal is to present beloved new and old classic films on the big screen and preserve the theater-going experience provided by the single-screen cinema. "The biggest component of this is the social one," Collins says. "People come together and break bread over films that they love. All the films are screened as intended, in glorious 35 mm."

On the second Saturday of each month, through May, patrons will be able to eat brunch, provided by the Boulevard Bistro and Oakmont Bakery, at the theater before and during screenings.

Collins says the theater will continue to create a welcoming atmosphere with music from or related to the films and subdued lighting during brunch. "Many people have commented that this element of the brunches is great because it gets people to mingle and connect. It's really connecting people in a positive way," he says.

In addition, each film will screen without the brunch options on Sundays.

The first three films in the new series each were requested multiple times he says. "West Side Story" will be followed Feb. 13 by the Pittsburgh-made "The Bread, My Sweet" (2001) and March 13 with "To Kill A Mockingbird" (1962). The return to baseball season is heralded with Kevin Costner on April 10 in "Field of Dreams" (1989). Barbra Streisand closes the lineup May 8 in 1968's "Funny Girl."

"'West Side Story' has had a recent revival and certainly can be counted among the most beloved movie musicals. 'The Bread, My Sweet' certainly has a bit of a local mythology attached to it, and is a great film for a special Valentine's brunch. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is a personal favorite. 'Field of Dreams' is experiencing a bit of a revival with its 20th anniversary. 'Funny Girl' was remastered recently, so there are some lovely prints out there," Collins says.

He wanted to include films from different genres, as well as time periods. "I have had a tough time finding many of the classic titles on 35 mm, so I've had to work with what is available to me," Collins says.

Stephanie Zimble, library assistant and archivist, again will offer brief background introductions before each screening.

"I've really enjoyed being able to see people's enthusiasm when it comes to these films in The Oaks series," Zimble says. "People have fond memories associated with these films, and adults are enthusiastic about exposing their kids to some of their favorites."

Additional Information:

'Cine Brunch' film series

The film: 'West Side Story'

When: 10 a.m. brunch, 11 a.m., screening Saturday

Where: The Oaks Theater, 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont

Admission: $10 in advance ($12 at door) for brunch and film (film repeats 11 a.m. Sunday for $6, without brunch). Advance tickets can be purchased online or at the theater box office.

Details: 412-828-6311 or Web site

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