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How It Started at the Coolidge Corner Theater

This narrative by the former Coolidge Corner Theater program manager, Clinton McClung, was entered into the guestbook of the prior version of this site. I was very happy to find it there and we corresponded after that. As I had planned once I redid the site a bit, here in his own words is how it all got started:

February 21, 2005

Howdy. I'm the programmer over at the Coolidge and I just found your lovely site all about the sing-a-long event! How flattering - and how nice to know that this is starting a trend all over the country! I thought you might like to know a little history about the event... and know that we are planning to do it again in the near future. I haven't set the date yet, but sometime in May or June (probably the weekend after we do our Freaks and Geeks pajama party).

I'm a huge Buffy fan, and we have a giant screen (duh) upon which I'd always been dying to see the show. So, what the heck, I started working on doing some sort of movie event. First I tried contacting Mutant Enemy and Fox, where I was waylaid by silly lawyers before I even got a chance to really get into it. That was about two years ago or so. After more futile attempts, I gave up and decided to just do it without charging admission, so as to forego any copyright issues.

I met with the local theatre group - Queer Soup - who a few years ago put on a loving parody-tribute to Buffy called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer's High School Reunion" and brainstormed some ideas. Right away I thought of the sing-a-long show, not so much due to Rocky Horror (which I like, but find a little mean spirited), but in the more loving spirit of the sing-a-long Sound of Music/Wizard of Oz trend that's been popping up (especially in England). We did the Sound of Music show for a whole week a few years ago. It had interactive bags, etc. I figured if people loved that so much, then imagine how Buffy fans would react!

Queer Soup helped me brainstorm some interactive ideas and call-backs. And as you know they also did a couple of numbers. Response was mixed, I know, but they were doing it out of love and were instrumental in pulling the whole night together. I couldn't have done it myself. And for the record, I love their "Bite Bite Bite" parody - I think the lyrics may have been a little hard to hear, though.

I had no idea how the show would be received, as it was mostly a labor of love, but we had 600 people for our Saturday midnite show in October! We had interactive kits to go along with the show, but I'd only made 250. And I thought that was thinking too big. We've never had a Buffy con in the Boston area (dammit!), so who knew...

It worked out okay, though. Even though we didn't have quite enough interactive kits to go around, the crowd were all incredibly into it and sang along at roof-raising volume. Our cast didn't act out the show - but we did lead the crowd in the interactive events and just stood up front acting silly (I did, however, do a mean broom dance).

We showed Hush afterwards to help fill the rest of the night, but a lot of people were spent by then. Still, I think the two episodes go well together. Next time, I think we'll show an episode that the audience votes for and announce what it is during intermission.

Not long after, the Alamo contacted me (Tim League is very nice, and we often share programs and ideas) and said they had the same idea and wanted to know how it went. I sent them all the details and said "run with it", and so they did. I had no idea that they've done it more than once, but that's great news. I'm so glad it's catching on!

I've been planning on doing the show again, but didn't make any announcements yet as I've been trying to get someone from the cast to come out for the show, either Eliza Dushku (who I know isn't in the ep, but who is from Boston) or Amber Benson (who I keep pestering, but still can't get to commit). But now I really need to just do it again, special guest or no.

I'd love to hear any suggestions and ideas from anyone at the show about what we need to do differently next time (below are a few of my own changes). And if anyone would like to be a part of the show next time, I'm looking for partners/volunteers.

Some changes for the next Buffy sing-a-long
* more finger puppets!
* have the cast wave around dry-cleaned shirts during "got the mustard out"
* stupid bubbles didn't work very well. Next time we'll have party poppers and shoot streamers all over at the end of the song
* forget the parking ticket, next time people should wave their underwear in the air (I got to find a bulk of cheap underwear)
* call backs are welcome, but at the start of the show I want to make an announcement that there should be no mean-spirited derogatory statements against women, cause that's antithetical to everything the show stands for. If anyone is being mean-spirited, everyone is supposed to stand up and point at them and yell "you suck!" (or something). I did this to one jerk at the back of the theatre during the last show, but I think it would be great if the audience were a unified front.

Clinton McClung
Program Director, Coolidge Corner Theatre




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