Club indigo keeps on thriving, by Sierra Cheatham and Joe Kirkish

Years ago, people predicted an early demise for Calumet Theatre’s food and film program, Club Indigo. However, it caught on and is now alive and kicking with its fifteenth season beginning in March.
Club Indigo’s whole new series of films and taste-tested group of chefs will not disappoint the growing audience of regulars who put the monthly event high on their entertainment priority list.
Still, according to retired film professor Joe Kirkish, creator of Club Indigo, it has been a long, sometimes arduous haul—selecting films, seeking sponsors for the film rentals, technically improving the screenings and snagging the best catering chefs in the area for the buffets that match each film.
“I spend about thirty hours a week working on it,” Kirkish said. “I start with a list of 100 out of two or three thousand movies. Then it’s down to sixty, thirty and when I get down to twenty, its like sweating blood to throw half of them out.”
Before the creation of Club Indigo, Kirkish and the other members 0703ahinof the Calumet Theatre board weren’t completely satisfied with the state of the theatre. The building caught the eye of someone at Michigan State University, who obtained a grant for restoration of the facility. Visuals done in art deco style now adorn the walls and ceiling.
Post-redecoration, there still was the issue of creating activities to get people to come to the theatre. The original intent was to use the adjoining ballroom and fill the theatre more often than the occasional live presentations—rarely more than five or six per year—and to draw in audiences beyond the immediate area. Kirkish figured one way to get people into the theatre was to start some sort of monthly program.
“Not any one thing would work,” Kirkish said. “Not just a film or dinner alone. I put the two together and made it into a Friday night activity. I went to the Keweenaw Co-op and had their chef cater a complete buffet for that movie’s theme.”
The combination was a hit. Popularity grew as the technology of Club Indigo advanced, such as the second projector added to avoid delays in reel changes, and eventually a DVD projection system that replaced the old 16mm projectors that were on loan from Michigan Tech. A new projection screen was purchased to replace the old, yellowed one. At present, the results are up-to-date and patrons show their appreciation by regular attendance.
The old rectangular tables in the ballroom were replaced with friendlier, round tables to make the dinners more sociable. Chefs are chosen for their experience and execution of a wide variety of ethnic foods—Italian cuisine is made for a movie from Italy, and southern cooking for a movie located in the south.
Club Indigo gradually succeeded as a pleasant monthly event, made more so with the modest cost for an evening of good food and a movie. At present, the combination of buffet and film is kept to $17 for adults, with half price for children. The film alone is $5 for adults and again, half for children. During the summers, especially with tourists and visitors, entire families found they could enjoy the food and film combination for less than what would be spent in a fast food restaurant and a commercial movie—and with the treat of a chef’s specialty unique to each event.
The buffet begins at 6:00 p.m., and the movie at 7:15 p.m.
“I’m happy to say that it’s done what I wanted it to do—get more people to the theatre, get people to enjoy movies and eat good food,” Kirkish said.
Reservations for the buffet can be made at least a day in advance by calling the theatre at 337-2610.
Movies are selected to fit into two basic genres: tried-and-tested golden oldies that people enjoy seeing on the big screen again, and a rich variety of celebrated foreign and American films rarely seen at local theaters.
Films for the 2007 season are:
• March 16—John Wayne in the greatest film he ever made in or out of Ireland: The Quiet Man.
• April 13—A British romantic fantasy about love, life and the Other Place, Stairway To Heaven.
• May 11—Kurosawa’s swan song, a visual masterpiece: Dreams.
• June 8—A must see, touching Iranian movie, Children of Heaven.
• July 6—An American classic, Bogart & Hepburn in The African Queen.
• August 10—Lost Horizon; on the big screen it’s incredible.
• September 21—One of the greatest silent films from Germany’s Fritz Lang: a sci-fi fantasy, Metropolis, with an appropriate musical sound track.
• October 26—Yet another droll comedy from Norway, Kitchen Stories.
• November 16—Fellini’s most romantic paean to his childhood in Rome: Amacord.
• December 7—A final tribute for Frank Capra in his salute to life and Christmas: It’s a Wonderful Life.
—Sierra Cheatham and Joe Kirkish

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.