Movies and more at Center Stage Theater

Center Stage Theater manager Suszann Gatewood finishes cleaning the facility’s popcorn machine. The theater is inspected each month via random, unannounced visits.

If you’re looking to enjoy a quick flick, NAS Patuxent River’s Center Stage Theater is an obvious and affordable option; but did you know the theater offers much more than just movies?

“The theater can be rented out for programs, training, and presentations,” explained Suszann Gatewood, theater manager. “It can even be rented for birthday parties and celebrations.”

With seating for 366, the elevated stage and projection screen offer the perfect combination for disseminating information to small or large gatherings.

“There’s a computer available, or you can bring in your own laptop and hook it up,” she noted. “There are microphones and [video teleconferencing] is available, so participating remote locations can be shown on the screen off to the side.”

The rental fee for the theater is $250 up to four hours, or $500 up to eight hours. Some weeks and times of year are busier than others.

“This week the only thing in the theater is something to do with chiefs’ season, but last week we had two different things taking place every single day,” Gatewood said.

For $110 for a three-hour block, the theater can also be rented – at certain times and days – for birthday parties and celebrations, which includes the price of a movie chosen from a varied list of available selections, rated G through R.

“People can bring their own cake and ice cream,” Gatewood noted, “I’ve seen people bring in an entire class of kids for a birthday party.”

Since October, the theater has been serving the full line of Starbucks coffees, both hot and cold, making it easy for Pax personnel to pull in for their favorite drink before heading to their desk.

“There’s espresso, Frappucinos or lattes; there’s even Matcha tea,” Gatewood said. “And we serve some muffins and pastries too. That’s available from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.”

The newest addition to the theater’s repertoire is the hot lunch special – a hot dog, medium drink and bag of chips for $5. Or, as Gatewood noted, “people can just buy the hot dog itself; we have cheese and chili as toppings.” Served daily from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., patrons can eat lunch while sitting out front in the small shaded patio area.

The show must go on

First and foremost, though, the theater is all about the movies, and while Navy Motion Pictures books the movies for the entire country and overseas, individual theaters can select titles from a list during the timeframe they’re available and choose to run or not run them.

Gatewood said the most popular movies at Pax River are usually family movies or the superhero blockbusters.

“But one particular movie stands out and that’s ‘The Blind Side’ with Sandra Bullock,” she added. “Every time we showed that it sold out, and almost nothing sells out like that.”

Occasionally, the studios will offer the Navy a free sneak peek at a new movie before it’s released in theaters, but Gatewood said they never know what will come in or when, noting, “we can’t request anything, it’s just random.”

Center Stage shows movies Thursday through Sunday for $5 per adult ticket and the concession stand is open selling popcorn, snacks, hot dogs, soda and Starbucks drinks. Wine and beer is also expected to be available for purchase in the near future.

“But you can’t leave the premises with it,” Gatewood said. “You’ll have to drink it at the theater.”

The MWR Community Recreation Tickets & Travel Office, Building 2655, coordinates all theater reservations and payments.

“Contact them at 301-342-3648 and they can handle the paperwork and take credit card payments,” Gatewood noted. “Anyone over there can help.”