Norfolk Theater Offers More Than Just a Movie

Now that “Netflix and chill” is so last semester, the Naro Cinema (the Naro) welcomes people back to the traditional movie-going experience with open arms.

Although there are a few different cinemas in close proximity to the college, the 80-year-old Naro Cinema on 1507 Colley Ave is a viable option for students who want to enjoy a movie.

“Every Virginia Wesleyan College student should go to the Naro Theater because of the unique culture that the theater brings to the surrounding area,” Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom Dr. Craig Wansink said.

Wansink highlighted the importance of community involvement for students. He recommended that students attend the Wednesday night movie to participate in the community discussions which will follow the show. This discussion allows everyone to share their own takeaways and engage in dialogue with one another. Students have the opportunity to walk away with new knowledge gleaned from diverse opinions.

“My perspective of the Naro Theater is that they purposely show movies that deal with deeper themes and have a purpose of provoking thoughts by playing movies with hard hitting topics,” Wansink said.

Daniel Petro, a sophomore at Virginia Wesleyan College, experienced exactly what Wansink talked about when he visited the Naro.

“I’ve been to the Naro Theater before because I live close by, and it was definitely way different than going to see a movie at AMC, but in a positive way. I left the theater still feeling like I was watching the movie because my family and I continued to talk about it when we drove home,” Petro said.

On top of viewing and learning from the movie, students can easily turn a trip to the Naro into a day trip for Norfolk exploration. Additionally, the diverse array of restaurants and different events at the Norfolk Scope Arena serve to keep students entertained.

The theater originally opened in 1936 and has been controlled by Art Repertory Films since 1977.

Despite being a single-roomed movie theater, the Naro is successful because of the variety of films shown on a daily basis.

As technology advances the Naro Theater has made changes to shift from dependence on projection films to digital.

Naro employee Emma Needham explained that about two years ago the Naro ran into problems raising funds for the conversion to digital. Despite doubts about the theater’s survival, the Norfolk community came together with donations to keep the theater alive.

Although the majority of films shown are digital, the Naro still occasionally uses the old projection style.

“Flickit! Fridays’ are a major event Naro Cinema hosts one Friday a month where there are more concession options including alcohol. On Oct. 14, ‘The Return of the Living Dead’ is playing at 9:15 p.m. There is also an after party for the event that the audience is encouraged to go to,” employee Claire Parker said.

Needham and Parker both emphasize how amusing the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” is for every audience that comes to see it. This event, which is easily the Naro’s most popular event, takes place on each second, fourth and fifth Friday of the month. It involves a live cast and affords moviegoers the opportunity to arrive in costume.

The consistency of the cinema is what attracts people to it, Parker explained. Although the movies cycle through every two or three weeks, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” plays consistently, as well as Wednesday documentary films. The documentary films attract locals who are interested in the social issues that the films explore. The low concession stand prices for homemade food are also a huge draw for college students.

Next time Netflix is buffering, grab a friend and head to Colley Avenue in Norfolk and check out a movie at the Naro.

Luke Chiasson

(Photo: Luke Chiasson | Marlin Chronicle)