Joel Derefield had an idea: Given the convenient location of the Uptown Lounge, adjacent to Yelm Cinemas and frequented by audience members both before and after shows, why not throw an event for the 91st Academy Awards – aka the Oscars?
“It seems like a perfect fit,” says Derefield, a mainstay of regional community theater who recently branched out into several film projects. “There are a lot of movie fans who love Yelm Cinemas and Uptown Lounge, including myself. An Oscars party is a place where we can gather, have some great food and adult libations, share in the award-night experience and discuss film.”
When Uptown Lounge General Manager presented the idea to Kelsee Dodson-Carter, Marketing & Advertising Director for Prairie Park (the parent company of the lounge, cinema and Prairie Hotel), she was immediately on board. “I’ve always wanted to throw an Oscars party because we have Yelm Cinemas next door,” says Dodson-Carter. “It just makes sense.”
The Oscar night festivities will run from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 24 and will include a red carpet and photo booth for guests to take home pictures of themselves. “We’ll have prizes for best dressed and a celebrity look alike contest,” says Dodson-Carter. “You can also come dressed as your favorite character.” Line Critchfield, Executive Director of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce, will be hosting the event, and guest will have an opportunity to vote on their favorites in the contest. The winners, as is only appropriate, can give acceptance speeches.
Every television in the lounge will play the awards ceremony (with the volume on, unlike during normal business hours). Guests can expect rounds of Oscar bingo, and during the commercial breaks, Uptown’s regular Tuesday night trivia host will present Oscar trivia questions. “We’ll mute the sound and try to get in as many trivia questions as we can, at least during some of the commercials,” says McCarten.
Oscar-themed food and drinks will also be available, starting with the New York Oscar, a steak topped with asparagus, crab cakes and béarnaise sauce. “It will mostly be a regular menu, but we’ll include a few special features,” McCarten says.
Next door, Yelm Cinemas will be playing Best Picture nominated films all day on the 24th. Manager Noah Aden is working with a booking agent to arrange a special viewing. “The Oscars get people reflecting over the past year in film,” says McCarten. “They might come in and see a movie they were just reminded of or one that was nominated which they haven’t seen yet.”
This year, those include:
“Roma,” a portrait of a domestic worker’s journey set against domestic and political turmoil in Mexico during the 1970s from director Alfonso Cuarón. (10 nominations)
“The Favourite,” a period comedy-drama from Yorgos Lanthimos depicting the vying efforts of two cousins to be favorites of England’s Queen Anne. (10 nominations)
Box office record smasher “Black Panther” from director Ryan Coogler, the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture. (7 nominations)
Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” based on the true story of an African-American police officer in the 1970s who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan. (6 nominations)
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Freddie Mercury biopic focusing on events leading up to Queen’s iconic Live Aid performance, final direction by Dexter Fletcher. (5 nominations)
“Green Book,” another film based on true events, in this case a friendship between an African-American classical and jazz pianist and his bodyguard during the 1960s from director Peter Farrelly. (5 nominations)
Audience favorite “A Star is Born” from first-time director Bradley Cooper portraying a doomed love affair set in the music industry. (8 nominations)
“Vice”, a biographical comedy-drama based on the tenure of former Vice President Dick Cheney from director Adam McKay. (8 nominations)
Derefield believes the local audience will be receptive to the Oscar event. “Yelm has an amazing, creative artistic spirit that enjoys all aspects of the arts and creative endeavors,” he says. “The Triad Theater, Yelm Cinemas, Jazz in the Park, Shakespeare in the Park and the Yelm UFO Festival and Symposium are all great examples of arts and entertainment in our community.”
The evening will present an opportunity to share the Oscar night experience with other film-lovers and discuss favorite movies. “The idea is to enjoy the night and celebrate cinema arts,” says Derefield.
The Uptown Lounge will be taking reservations for the evening, but walk-ins will still be welcome. In Dodson-Carter’s words, “It’s going to be a night of rolling the red carpet out for our guests and enjoying an awesome night of the best in film.”
For more information about the Uptown Lounge, visit their website.