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Performing arts center offers movies for community entertainment

By Bianca Montes , Bianca Montes
Aug. 30, 2014 at 3:21 p.m.
Updated Sept. 1, 2014 at 2:46 p.m.

Hanna Driskell traveled from Yoakum with her two daughters Avery, 3, and Jordan, 5, to see the  Walt Disney animations film "Frozen" showing at he Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts. The children and their parents sang along to the films music tracks, which everyone seemed to have memorized.

Five-year-old Callie Harvey drew in her breath and nearly fell out of her seat when Princess Elsa walked through the auditorium door at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts.

"Elsa," she whispered.

"Elsa," she then screamed, trying to garner the attention of the Disney princess - her all-time favorite princess.

Callie and her parents, of Edna, joined a sold-out crowd in July to sing along to the 2013 Disney hit "Frozen."

The movie screening, the first with the new digital projector, was a success, said Sue Prudhomme, Victoria College cultural affairs director. Victoria College acquired the center about two years ago.

Since then the college has worked to offer movies to the public. The purchase of the new digital projector helped push the project ahead.

Prudhomme said she hopes to acquire a new, motorized screen that would allow for more frequent viewings and less time spent dismantling their current screen on loan from the Victoria TX Indie Film Fest.

Bringing the silver screen to downtown bolsters the mission of revitalizing the area, she said.

"We expected a good start, but we weren't expecting such an overwhelming start," Prudhomme said. "I guess you can say we started with a bang."

Western features, a double showing of the original 1954 "Godzilla" with the 2014 remake and short films hosted by the Victoria TX Indie Film Fest were also shown this summer.

Plans are to continue showing movies throughout the year.

Prudhomme said her plan is to make a "difference in the culture of downtown" by working with the Main Street Program and the city to foster a community in the area.

The Welder Center will offer films in several programming themes, including family programming, second-run blockbusters, iconic Texas and critically acclaimed films that didn't make a first-run screening in Victoria.

Movie aficionados may also select their own film for screening through the Welder Center's partnership with Tugg.com, Prudhomme said.

"Visit the Tugg.com website and select a film from their library, then select the date for viewing at the Leo J. Welder Center," she explained. "The person or organization who requested the film becomes the promoter for the film screenings and can post the event on Facebook, email friends and spread the word. Once a minimum number of tickets have been sold, the event is confirmed."

Community members are encouraged to call the Welder Center's booking office at 361-485-8540, ext. 2, to help select a date for their Tugg.com event.

It will be scheduled among the many activities happening at the Welder Center, including Theatre Victoria productions, Victoria Ballet Theatre performances, Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival screenings, Victoria Bach Festival, Crossroads Community Band, Ballet Folklorico, regional school productions, dance recitals and nonprofit fundraisers, along with Victoria College choir and band performances.

Christi Harvey called the event worth the drive, and although she and Callie saw "Frozen" six times in the theater, the singalong was "really cool."

Inside the theater, children not only sang along to every song in the movie but also spoke nearly every line.

Amber Villarreal, of Victoria, brought her daughters to the theater with a group of friends, She said she appreciated the planners choosing a family-friendly movie to start with. Villarreal said her daughters, ages 3 and 4, watch "Frozen" every single night at home and since they always sing along, "Why not sing along here, too?"



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