BR Gallery’s Movies & Music on the Lawn returns for its biggest year yet

Harold Lloyd will open the 2014 Movies & Music on the Lawn season, but the closing act in September is a surprise.

“It’s something we weren’t sure that could be done, but it came through,” Jason Andreasen says. “But we won’t be announcing it until the June 28 Movies & Music on the Lawn.”

Andreasen is the Baton Rouge Gallery’s director, and he promises the grand finale film will be a celebration.

“It’s the going to be the biggest Movies & Music on the Lawn event in the series’ 25-year history,” Andreasen says.

But that doesn’t happen until Friday, Sept. 26. There are still four movies preceding it on the schedule.

The series runs on the last Saturday of each month from May through August. September is the exception, when the show will take place on a Friday.

Movies & Music on the Lawn pairs up iconic films of the 1920s and 1930s with local contemporary bands, which perform an original, on-the-spot film score. This means the score is created while the film is projected on a huge inflatable screen behind the gallery.

“The lawn is the perfect place for this series,” Andreasen says. “It’s where the old City Park swimming pool used to be. Now it’s grassy, and it forms a bowl, where the audience can sit. And when you look toward the back, you can see audience members sitting at the top of the bowl as the sun sets. It’s really a great sight to see.”

Especially when a movie draws a crowd of more than 400 people, which happened last year.

“When I first became director, Movies & Music was drawing a crowd of about 100, which was good,” Andreasen says. “But now, it’s grown, and toward the end of the series last year, we had some of the biggest crowds ever.”

So, here’s the drill: for $5, moviegoers will gain admission, along with unlimited popcorn. They can bring blankets on which to sit in the main area, along with non-alcoholic drinks.

The movie begins at either 8 p.m. or sundown, whichever comes later.

The series will begin with the 1922 Harold Lloyd slapstick comedy “Grandma’s Boy,” on Saturday, May 31. The story follows a timid coward who can’t muster the courage to woo his girl. He’s also afraid of his rival, so his grandmother gives him a magic charm used by his grandfather during Civil War days, which enables Lloyd’s character to face his fears.

Denton Hatcher and the Soapbox Blues will create the soundtrack with their rockabilly sound.

Next up will be the 1928 thriller, “The Man Who Laughs,” based on Victor Hugo’s novel about a man with a freakish, carnival-like grin, on Saturday, June 28. Electronic musician Matsy will provide the soundtrack.

On Saturday, July 26, the series will feature the 1927 love story, “Sunrise,” starring George O’Brien and Janet Gaynor with band Minos and the Saint incorporating folk and experimental music into the soundtrack.

Then there’s Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 murder mystery, “The Lodger,” on Saturday, Aug. 30, with England in 1819’s atmospheric sound providing the music.

But Andreasen isn’t talking about September’s selection. He won’t even give a hint.

“You’ll have to wait until June to find out what the movie is going to be,” he says. “I’ll just say that it’s going to be big.”

In the meantime, everything else is ready to go. Baton Rouge Gallery will finish installing its June show, featuring work by three new gallery artists, Heather Ryan Kelley, Isoko Onodera and Jessica Sharpe, before the screening of “Grandma’s Boy,” meaning there will be new artwork to see.

The gallery also bought a second popcorn machine last year to accommodate its growing crowd.

“So, we’ll have two popcorn machines going again this year,” Andreasen says.

All that’s left is for the audience to sit back, eat popcorn and laugh at Harold Lloyd.