“Downton Abbey.” Here in the States, our first introduction to the Crawley family was in January 2011 on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater. And after that first season we were hooked, wondering how we would manage to wait until the following January for the next season. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to the characters we’d come to love when the series ended in 2016.
“Downton Abbey” fans across the globe are more than ready to see the full-length film being released nationally on Sept. 20 … But, here in the Boothbay region, thanks to the Harbor Theater, we have the opportunity to see the film Sept. 12!
"From the minute I heard that Downton Abbey was coming in September I knew we wanted it, and booked early,” said Harbor Theater Director Helen Meserve. “That led to the sneak preview offer, and, of course the costume contest seemed a natural. Who wouldn't want to dress like Lady Crawley or the Dowager … or even Carson!”
In the film, the Crawleys and staff are preparing for a royal visit from the King and Queen of England. Writer Julian Fellowes picks up the storyline late in 1927 and has created a script filled with all the elements we love – scandal – romance – intrigue (hopefully Lady Mary will not be the center of the latter again) all back at Highclere Castle in Hampshire.
According to Julie Miller of Vanity Fair, “The film's storyline was inspired by an actual royal visit that King George V and Queen Mary made to Wentworth Woodhouse, a country house in Yorkshire, in 1912 – to ‘restate the importance of monarchy.’ Like the real trip, “Downton Abbey's” royal extravaganza includes a spectacular parade – created with hundreds of extras in period-precise costumes, cannons, and horses – and white-tie wining and dining. The event is so large in scale that Carson, the family's beloved former butler played by Jim Carter, comes out of a palsy-induced retirement to return to Downton and ensure that nary a teaspoon is out of place.”
You can hardly wait, right?
Now, back to Boothbay Harbor and the Harbor Theater. The sneak peek evening begins with a costume contest and reception at 6:30. If you plan on dressing like one of the characters, and entering the contest, be sure to arrive early - 6 p.m.
And the categories and prizes are … First Prize: Best Portrayal of a Character – four $10 passes to the theater; Second Prize: Most Outrageous – three $10 passes to the theater; Third Prize: Most Elegant – two $10 passes.
Here are the deets on the contest: Judges Patricia Renfro, Connie Jones and this A&E editor/writer will mingle with the crowd, nibbling on canapés catered by Eventide Specialties. Decisions will be made by 6:45 p.m. when the contest ends. Prizes will be awarded just before the film starts at 7 p.m.
Remember there are a number of period costumes to choose from as the series spanned the late 1890s through 1925. Check out costume ideas by visiting Downton Abbey Twitter, re-watch episodes (available on Masterpiece Theater/PBS website if you have a PBS Passport. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Amazon Prime.
And now ... (like you really need one) a character refresher: Lord and Lady Crawley - Robert and Cora; the daughters Crawley: Mary, Edith and Sybil; Violet Crawley (don’t let Dame Maggie Smith intimidate you!), Lady Rose, Isabel Crawley and son Michael Crawley; Martha Levinson (Cora’s mother played by Shirley MacLaine). The staff: Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore, Anna Smith, Mr. Carson, Daisy Mason, John Bates, Mrs. O’Brien, Robert James-Collier (the nefarious Thomas Barrow), Joseph Moseley (the footman/valet).
Tickets, $8 for Harbor Theater members and youth under 18; $10 for non-members, are selling fast for this brilliant event. According to Helen Meserve, as of Friday, Aug. 30 there were only 60 tickets left!
As Mr. Carson said, “If you’re tired of style, you’re tired of life.”
Show off your Crawley style at the Thursday, Sept. 12 screening of “Downton Abbey.” If for some reason, like you’ll be out of town, have to work or your kids are down with chicken pox ... or this sneak peek is sold out, never fear! It will return to the Harbor Theater’s silver screen on Sept. 20 for one week.
Oh, and on the off chance you’ve never been to the theater, it’s at 185 Townsend Ave. in Boothbay Harbor.