Portsmouth’s historic Commodore Theater opening its doors Friday after 3-month closure

Living Local

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Lovers of the silver screen will see a silver lining starting today. The Historic Commodore Theater in Portsmouth is opening its doors today.

While most theaters are closed, the Commodore got the green light to reopen because of its restaurant-style seating.

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Fred Schoenfeld, the owner, says it’s going to take a lot of getting used to the new restrictions due to COVID-19.

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“I’m just sort of bracing myself to adapt to the changes,” Schoenfeld said.

A bucket of popcorn is a staple at the movies. It sits on the concession stand ready to hold the warm buttery treat. Now, it sits next to a new essential, hand sanitizer. A sign of the times.

“We are going to do the recommended social distancing procedures which would be staggering our table seating so people are at least 10 feet apart, checking temperature upon arrival for staff as well as customers,” he said.

Big name cinemas like AMC remain closed in our area for now, and when they do open, there will likely be very few films on the marquee.

At the Commodore, they’re known for playing older films.

“We do show older films once in a while because people love to come and see them,” Schoenfeld said.

Across the water in Norfolk, another independent theater is patiently waiting for their turn to reopen.

The Naro is in the dark for now, waiting on the governor’s word. The owner tells WAVY he already has a plan.

“If he (the governor) says a 25 percent limit, which I would say is probably a good number, we can still have 130 people in here. with 130 people, we could probably make it,” said Thom Vourlas, co-owner of the Naro.

If you’d like to support The Naro, they hold a sidewalk popcorn speakeasy outside the theater every Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Commodore will reopen Friday with the showing of Wonder Woman from 2017. This is because of the lack of new film releases due to the pandemic.

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