Theater to reopen with celebration

General Manager Troy Anderson and Assistant Manager Kris Hicks enjoy the soft opening of Lazy Mac’s in the Old Mill Playhouse at Lake Sumter Landing.

Old Mill Playhouse at Lake Sumter Landing Market Square reopens this week, kicking off with a soft opening of the new and improved Lazy Mac’s Taco Shack on Monday and the planned opening of one auditorium in the movie theater on Friday. Lazy Mac’s new features include a redesigned bar, updated food and drink menus, daily happy hour, weekly live music Tuesdays through Saturdays, a to-go window for food and drinks and outdoor music and dining. Starting in March, there also will be weekly comedy shows at the new Lazy Mac’s Laughs comedy club. The movie theater opens with updated movie pricing, new release movies, options for private events and theater rental in the other auditoriums and possible sports event viewings down the line.

Spencer Novak, executive director of hospitality for The Villages, said it feels fantastic to be reopening.

“Old Mill Playhouse has a central location for The Villages residents. (This) gave us the opportunity to open Lazy Mac’s at the same time,” Novak said.

Old Mill’s reopening will include a celebratory event from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 22 with happy hour specials and a mariachi band from 3 to 5 p.m. and T-shirt and koozie giveaways.

“News of the World” starring Tom Hanks, the first movie scheduled, will play at 2:30, 5 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 to March 4. The theater will be open Thursday though Sunday each week with a new title every two weeks on Friday.

Upcoming new release titles will include “Black Widow,” “Free Guy,” “Spiral” and “Fast and Furious 9” in May; “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “Jungle Cruise,” in July; “Deep Water,” and “The King’s Man” in August; “Death on the Nile” in September; “No Time To Die” and “The Last Duel” in October; “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Mission: Impossible 7” in November; and “Nightmare Alley,” “West Side Story,” “Spider-Man,” “The Matrix 4,” “Sing 2” and “Sherlock Holmes 3” in December, according to Novak.

There are plans to open the other auditoriums in the theater, but the process is moving slowly for now, Novak said. For now, those auditoriums are available for private rental. Sports events, including a possible March Madness event, are being considered.

Social distancing measures in the theater will include recommended masks for guests and daily health screenings, required masks and frequent hand washing for staff members, 6-foot social distancing, one-way entrances and exits, 40% capacity with groupings of two, four and six seats with 6 feet between groups, available hand sanitizer, recommended self-health checks before entering and a thoroughly enhanced cleaning procedure before and after all movies.

The reopening is another step toward getting entertainment going again, said Brian Russo, executive director of entertainment.

“As I’ve been saying through all of this, it’s baby steps, but always steps forward,” Russo said.

One step forward were the updates to Lazy Mac’s, which now boasts a redesigned bar with an updated drink menu including upgraded tequila and rum selections with tequila flights, full bar selections and traditional Mexican sodas, new craft drinks and margaritas with a signature frozen strawberry margarita served in a fresh pineapple, new wine list with special varietals and drink specials including a free sixth beer with the purchase of a bucket of 5.

Happy hour will be from 3 to 5 p.m. every day starting today featuring $3 house wine, house sangria, domestic draft beer and house margarita.

Additionally, the food menu has been revamped to include authentic Tex-Mex selections with fresh produce from The Villages Grown. The restaurant will feature live music from 3 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday and Taco Tuesdays and Thursdays with $3 tacos and Mariachi bands.

Twenty-one-and-up comedy shows also will take place every Tuesday and Wednesday, beginning March 9 at the new Lazy Mac’s Laughs comedy club. Tickets start at $15, plus a minimum two-item purchase per person off the food and drink menu and are available to purchase through The Villages Box Office.

Among the changes, patrons can soon purchase movie tickets online. A new ticket kiosk will be located in the lobby of Old Mill soon after the reopening, which will allow patrons to pick up online tickets and purchase not only movie tickets but any Box Office offering including concerts and shows.

“Our goal has been to make things as easy as possible, and combining ticket sales into one operation really helps accomplish that goal,” Russo said. “People will now be able to purchase tickets to anything going on from the same place.”

In addition to expanding movie ticket purchasing opportunities, Box Offices will consolidate locations to ones that are conveniently located on each square, Russo said.

The box office at Brownwood will remain at its current location and will shift hours of operation to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. The Lake Sumter Landing Box Office is relocating to Old Mill, open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Sunday or until the final screening of that day. The Del Mar Box Office will close and relocate to The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. The Savannah Center Box Office will cease daily operation and will be open for will call only, one hour prior to showtime. The Remote Box Office will shift its hours of operation to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Staff Writer Liz Coughlin can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5304, or liz.coughlin@thevillagesmedia.com.