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Magic of Main Street Movies - arts and entertainment - 3/9/2010
Joan OSullivan Lengyel

Last week at the Sayville Library an adult program, "Magic of Main Street Movies" was presented by me, Joan O'Sullivan Lengyel.

I opened the program by showing how "Magic of Main Street Movies" came into being. I mentioned being a member of the Theatre Historical Society of America and the UK counter-part Cinema Theatre Association. The attendees were able to view my theatre renderings from Maine to California. As I showed the paintings, I gave the history of each movie house. A question was asked about the medium I was using. In the beginning it was pen and pencil (as a sidebar I made mention of collecting my "tools" in my travels). I would incorporate pencils especially from the USA and perhaps some twenty odd countries around the world.

Next on the agenda was a slide presentation by fellow THSOA member, Orlando Lopes. In this show you saw the following theatres. Roxy, Radio City Music Hall, Valencia, Paradise, Loews Jersey, Paramount-Brooklyn and NYC, the Fox also Brooklyn, Loews 175th street and the Loews Kings and of course our beloved Patchogue and Bay Shore houses. There was room for some of the "neighborhood" houses also. " I remember it was a nickel to get in, I paid ten cents". Do you remember "dish night" and the talent contests?" The audience was becoming animated with their memories and busting with glee to recall "the good old days". The banter could have continued but there was one more item.

As mentioned above, past Director NYC/ Metro Area member of THSOA Orlando Lopes, had one more contribution to make. The audiance was shown a film that was made over forty years ago that he had joyously restored. The film was documented by an 89 year old projectionist. His last job being at the "Kings". Breaking into sobs the elderly gentleman brought us face to face with the vacated, water damaged, vandalized hulk that was once Brooklyn's largest indoor theatre. We filled up with what we were viewing and asking, "how could this be allowed to happen?" BUT, hot off the press, the "Kings" is set for a 70 million restoration.

We are fortunate in Sayville to have our own main street, family run theatre, yes the Sayville Theatre. The magic is being removed from many main streets in America. Lindenhurst lost the battle to keep their theatre. Islip theatre went to the eleventh hour before it was saved from the wrecking ball.

Last call was being announced and we got out of the Library just under the wire. We were all teenagers that night with our individual and shared memories of the "Magic of Main Street Movies".


About the Author:
Joan O'Sullivan Lengyel now says she "freelances in creativity". With her love of the movies she started to sketch the facades of movie theaters across the US which she turned into boutique stationery, presently being sold at the Islip Art Museum Gift Store. Wanting to expand her interest she sought out and joined the Theatre Historical Society of America. THSOA has a yearly Conclave which travels to different parts of the US. This year it is the mid-west and more theatres to be explored.. THSOA has an international membership so now many of Joan's pals are from the UK. Last year she joined their organization the "Cinema Theatre Association" which gives her the opportunity to travel Europe to seek out "more" movie houses. One memorable visit to Scotland was a special treat, a personal full day tour of the theatres of Glasgow. (thank you Gordon and Gary). Speaking of Scotland, one Scot has been part of Mrs. Lengyel's life since she saw him in the movie the "Phantom of the Opera" namely, actor Gerard Butler. Her friend said you should be on Mr. Butler's payroll as a publicist/promoter. Joan did get to be an extra in his most recent film "The Bounty Hunter", which was payment enough. Joan calls Mr. Butler her creative "muse". She will be attending the Premiere of the film and the after party. "Bounty" was not her first first foray into movie acting. Joan appeared in a movie that was filmed in our own Sayville Theatre, "The Maltese Murder Mystery".

Joan is a member of the Sayville Wet Paints and was an officer for many years. She was introduced to the National League of American Pen Women, joined, and within a few years became the President of the Suffolk Branch. She is preparing to join "Women Sharing Art" Joan is also a Lecturer and a Teacher

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