Film Notes: Oaks renovating to become multipurpose center

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The Oaks Theater is scaling back its movies while it renovates the 75-year-old venue to add a pair of stages inside the theater along with a full-service bar in the lobby and a kitchen upstairs.  

The Oakmont theater, which opened Nov. 18, 1938, will become a multipurpose entertainment venue that will still show classic and cult films but also welcome live music, speakers, improv and stand-up comedy and install cabaret-style seating in the back of the auditorium. A new manager and programmer, Joe Wichryk II, is helping to oversee the transformation.

“We’ve cut all of our programming except for the Moonlit Matinee series,” he said Wednesday, with “The Breakfast Club” proceeding as scheduled at 10 tonight and decisions about future bookings down the road. The theater’‍s website at and its Facebook page will have updates throughout construction.    

“We’‍re getting new electric service to the building, and eventually we’ll have to stop showing films,” he said, although he expects the newly configured space with upgraded sound and lighting will be ready in September.

The changes, which will include a large stage in front of the screen and a second one in the back, along with flex seating of tables and chairs, will cost the theater some seats. Capacity will drop from the current 430 to 300 to 350, and the traditional concession stand will give way to a bar and possibly light entertainment such as acoustic duos or a keyboard player.

The Oaks has been hobbled by having a digital projector but one that is not DCI or Digital Cinema Initiatives compliant, which means it cannot show some of the new Hollywood releases. However, its equipment will allow it to show older movies and to welcome filmmakers who want to showcase their work.

Some nights might feature both a live performance and a movie, either before or after, depending on the nature of the entertainment. The name of the landmark at 310 Allegheny River Blvd. is staying the same.

“We will still be the Oaks Theater. We want to continue to maintain the integrity of this longstanding tradition,” said Mr. Wichryk, who is also part of the Pittsburgh-based comedy troupe Hustlebot. “We don’t want to alienate people who grew up with it. We just want to add to the experience you get coming to the Oaks.” 

Actress on hand for film

Actress Caroline Fogarty will be at the Hollywood Theater, 1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont, today for a 7 p.m. screening of the indie movie “As High as the Sky.” Ms. Fogarty is a graduate of Upper St. Clair High School and Penn State University.

In her first feature, writer-director Nikki Braendlin explores the fragile bonds between sisters. Ms. Fogarty plays Margaret, who is jilted by her fiance and manages her loneliness by obsessively and compulsively organizing her already perfect home. When her older sister and 10-year-old niece arrive unexpectedly for what seems like an indefinite visit, Margaret’‍s carefully structured life is thrown into disarray. 

Ms. Braendlin said in a press release, “I wanted to explore probable causes of these behaviors as well as potential ways to heal. I have experienced OCD symptoms, and they worsen when I’‍m working through a particularly difficult time. I was interested in examining the ramifications of someone who has never learned to identify, and thus process, her emotions at all.

”Additionally, and simultaneously, the film explores the complex and diverse relationships among mothers, daughters and sisters.“ 

Tickets are available in advance at or at the door for $8 for adults and $6 for seniors, children under 12 or students with valid IDs.

The movie, a winner at the Palm Beach and Sonoma international film festivals, is 91 minutes long and also is available on DVD along with such platforms as Amazon Instant, Hulu and Cinema Libre on Demand. 

In brief 

Jeff Boller will lead free 3-D for kids workshops for children 7 and up, plus their parents, at the Penn Area Library in Harrison City at 1 p.m. Wednesday and the Norwin Public LIbrary at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday. Participants will make 3-D comics and learn how to create 3-D art at home. Contact the libraries for information. … Findlay Zotter, a 2009 graduate of CAPA and 2013 graduate of Drexel University’‍s film school, has been accepted into the Directors Guild of America’‍s two-year assistant directors training program.

Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: or 412-263-1632. Read her blog:

Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: or 412-263-1632. Read her blog:

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