PORT TOWNSEND — The date is set. The ending, in fact a beginning, is a happy one.
The Rose Theatre, the two-screen cinema closed by the pandemic in March 2020, will reopen July 28, owner Rocky Friedman has announced.
“The Rose reopens! How I have longed to write those three words,” he proclaimed in his email newsletter, noting that, when the big day comes, his big screens will have been dark for 499 nights.
First will come a special screening on that last Wednesday of July for Rose Theatre members. Those are supporters who have signed up at the “Super 8” level of $50 per year — $40 for those 35 and younger — or at the higher tiers, which range from $100 annually up to $2,000.
The selected film will be announced this week.
July 29 will bring a soft opening, with a screening of “The Truffle Hunters,” the story of the 70- and 80-year-old Italian men who seek the precious white Alba truffle, and in so doing, find the secret to a delicious life.
Like all Rose screenings, this one will have a personal introduction from a theater host as the curtain rises at 7:30 p.m.
Then comes opening night, July 30, when the general public can choose between two new movies.
In the larger Rose Theatre, it will be “Summer of Soul,” Questlove’s documentary about the 1969 Harlem Culture Festival. In the smaller Rosebud, “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It” will light the screen.
Tickets will go on sale at 3 p.m. Wednesday at www.rosetheatre.com, or — for those who want to walk up to the Rose box office at 235 Taylor St. — in-person sales will be open from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Friedman noted that although Washington state permits theaters to fill to 100 percent capacity, he’s chosen to undersell his by one-third in order to let people spread out.
In an interview Friday, he said just 106 of the Rose’s 158 seats will be available to ticket buyers. Of the Rosebud’s 79 seats, 53 will be sold per screening.
“You will find hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the theatre. Both of our HVAC systems now have MERV 13 air filters installed, which remove very fine particles from the air, as well as potential allergens, and airborne germs,” Friedman wrote in his newsletter.
MERV, or minimum efficiency reporting value, is a rating of the filter’s efficiency in cleaning the air. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports those rated 13 or higher are efficient at capturing airborne viruses.
“Eventually we will [install the MERV filters] at the Starlight Room,” Friedman told the Peninsula Daily News.
The Starlight, the sofas-and-chandeliers venue upstairs from the Rose, is slated to open in September after more work is done.
The Rose’s reopening-week movies, “Truffle Hunters,” “Summer of Soul” and “Rita Moreno” will play at least through the week until Aug. 5. Matinee screenings will be sprinkled in daily except on Monday and Tuesday, when the theater will be closed.
When it comes to masks, the Rose will follow the state’s protocol: Patrons who aren’t yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must wear masks indoors. Those who are immunized can go maskless.
“We’ll be operating the way a lot of businesses are,” Friedman said, “on the honor system, not carding people at the door.”
If patrons prefer to wear face coverings, “that’s entirely their option,” he said, adding that, on a recent trip to Seattle, he saw many people doing so.
“I’ve gotten numerous, numerous emails congratulating us” on reopening plans, Friedman said.
There have been some questions from customers, but mostly it’s been, “Oh, boy. Great news.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz, senior reporter in Jefferson County, can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]