The Dude Abides

Friday, June 3, 2011

The time for The Dude, it turns out, is the weekend of June 10-12; and the place is the Lyric Flagler Center in downtown Stuart, which will kick off its dinner-and-a-movie series with showings of "The Big Lebowski."

"We wanted to do something different and something that will utilize the qualities that the center offers," said John Loesser, executive director of the Lyric Theatre and its recently opened adjunct, the Flagler Center. "We had always envisioned for the center to have dinner and cabaret shows, and then it dawned on me that we could do dinner-and-a-movie shows there as well."

"The Big Lebowski," the 1998 cult favorite by the brothers Joel and Ethan Coen starring Jeff Bridges as "The Dude," the ultimate slacker, and John Goodman as his bombastic bowling buddy, Walter Sobchak, was an obvious choice to start the series.

"'Lebowski' is a movie that there's always a demand for," Loesser said. "We screened it to a packed house at the Lyric last year and had a great cross-section of people from teens to folks in late 60s. 'Lebowski' fans will go see the movie on an annual basis. It's like 'It's a Wonderful Life' at Christmas: Every year you want to see it."

Loesser approached Steve Brust, the chef at the Flagler Grill in downtown Stuart, with the idea of "menuing" a dinner to serve to bathrobe- and bowling shirt-wearing "Lebowski" fans.

"I knew that it had to be really good food," Loesser said, "and I wanted it to be themed with the movie, not just pizza a nachos."

Is this your homework, Larry?

Brust had never seen "Lebowski," Loesser said, "but he got it that night, watched it and came back with the perfect menu."

That menu includes Bowling Ball Meatloaf with Lane-lubed Mashed Potatoes and Pin Carrots, Tumbleweed Salad with Marmot Dressing and a "toe-tally" sweet ending for dessert. There also will be vegetarian alternatives.

Shows will be at 7 and 10 p.m. June 10 and 11 and at 7 p.m. only June 12.

"A 10 p.m. show is pretty late for Stuart," Loesser said, "but I'm constantly being asked to do later shows. So we'll see if Stuart really has some night owls."

Dinner will be served buffet-style half an hour before each screening and won't be served during the show. Cost is $20.

"Plus, we'll be selling bottles of wine for 20 bucks," Loesser said. "So it's a great night out for a great price. It was very important to us to make it both quality and affordable."

Careful, man, there's a beverage here!

Wine with dinner is great; but what about The Dude's favorite drink: the white Russian?

"Absolutely, there will be white Russians," Loesser said. "We'll have a full bar available until the movie starts, and I expect there to be a run on white Russians."

And for the non-alcohol-imbibing crowd, how about The Stranger's drink of choice: sarsaparilla?

"Great idea," Loesser said. "We'll have to do that."

Warning: The film contains more than it's fair share of four-letter words.

"If people are offended by a whole bunch of foul language," Loesser said, "they're not going to enjoy the movie."

Other films in the dinner-and-a-movie series will be a melange of adult and family fare.

"We wanted to have a variety of movies that would appeal to a broad audience but still have a certain irreverence to them," Loesser said. "And a couple of them — 'Pee-wee' and 'The Princess Bride' — offer that and also are movies that you can bring the kids to but are favorites of adults as well."

I like your style, Dude

Movies at the Flagler Center will be shown on a 14-by-10-foot screen — not exactly IMAX, but plenty big for the room.

The room, which Loesser describes as "like an elegant supper club, extremely comfortable," seats up to 80 for each show. Reservations are strongly recommended.

"We've gotten 100 reservations so far," Loesser said Wednesday morning, "which is phenomenal because, when you think about it, people don't really think about getting reservations to see a movie. I'm kind of worried that people are going to make last-minute plans, show up and we'll be sold out."