Two historic Pittsburgh cinemas to reopen for films, live music, and more | Arts + Entertainment | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Two historic Pittsburgh cinemas to reopen for films, live music, and more

click to enlarge The Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill in 2018 - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
The Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill in 2018
The pandemic has made casualties of some beloved Pittsburgh venues. Fortunately, some places have managed to weather the crisis, including two of the region's historic cinemas. And they are planning to reopen soon.

The Oaks Theater in Oakmont and the Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill will soon be welcoming customers back for movie screenings, live music, and other in-person events. The Manor will officially open on Fri., April 23. The Oaks Theater will open on Fri., April 30.

Both venues have been largely closed since mid-December in order to comply with Gov. Tom Wolf's shutdown guidelines after Pennsylvania, and much of the U.S., saw a major spike in positive COVID-19 cases and related deaths last winter.

Manor owner Rick Stern says he feels this is the appropriate time to reopen as a "significant percentage of the population is vaccinated and those people are anxious to get out of their houses and get back to a more normal and social life."

The announcements should put to rest any fears over losing two venues that have served their communities for generations, especially after the Rex Theater, Brillobox, and other popular spots have closed due to COVID-19-related losses. Both theaters have been mainstays in Pittsburgh, boasting many decades of operating between them. The Manor has been open for nearly a century, and the Oaks originally opened in 1938.

According to the Manor website, audiences will be able to see the latest big-screen adaptation of the hit video game Mortal Kombat and various Oscar Nominated Short Films programs. There are also several films coming soon to the Manor, including the foodie documentary The Truffle Hunters, as well as Spiral, the latest addition to the Saw horror movie franchise. The concessions stand and small bar will also be open selling drinks and food.

The Oaks confirmed the news via an official email saying that after "almost a year hiatus of live events, we will be returning this May 2021 with an array of programming including live bands, comedians, kid’s shows, singles events and of course MOVIES." The venue already has May and much of June planned out, with several live tribute bands, comedy acts, and movie screenings, as well as a 40-plus singles trivia night.

The Manor has adapted somewhat during the pandemic by offering private screenings, where small parties of up to 20 people can rent a theater for between $150-170, depending on the day of the week. The Oaks adopted a similar approach by renting its theater out and offered to display messages on its marquee for just $75.

Both venues will also reopen with COVID-19 safety precautions in place, including limiting capacity and requiring customers to wear masks and social distance. Manor has been abiding by rules set by CinemaSafe, a nationwide program created by the National Association of Theatre Owners to ensure movie theater management adheres to protocols set by various health organizations. According to a story by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Manor has also tried to make the space safer by remodeling the bathrooms and installing foot-openers on auditorium doors so patrons can avoid touching surfaces.

Stern says he looks forward to seeing crowds back, especially in the months to come.

"The spring and summer film releases are beginning to flow and starting in May and into the summer, there will be a lot of terrific movies," says Stern. "There is nothing like watching a movie on the big screen, with great sound and others, laughing or crying, and a bucket of popcorn in your lap!”

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