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Saturday night delight

 The Byrd Theatre in Richmond, built in 1928, is an architectural delight, with 1,400 seats and its own Wurlitzer pipe organ.
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Date published: 1/18/2003

FRIENDS INVITED ME along to Richmond last Saturday to share in what turns out to be one of the best nights out I have had in ages. And I am not going to keep it secret.

How about dinner out in a trendy section of town, a stroll to check out more than a dozen other neat places to eat, stopping to shop--window and credit-card versions--at blocks of clever stores and--the pièce de resistance--catching a concert and a movie at one of the most fantastic theaters in the United States.

This is no casual exaggeration. This is Saturday night in Carytown, topped off with a film at the Byrd Theatre.

While it is hardly something new and unknown to Richmond-area residents, Carytown--which is not easy to find from the freeway--is not so well known to those of us who live 50 or so miles up the interstate.

Friends Hal and Jodie Wiggins picked us up for the hour's drive down. Darkness had fallen by the time we parked on a side street off Cary Street, the narrow main drag that gives the area its name.

We ogled a few stores, then checked out prices at several restaurants before settling on Farouk's House of India, a favorite of Wiggins. The food was fine, the service friendly, the conversation enjoyable and the bill reasonable. What more could you ask?

None of us had bothered to see what might be playing at one of the two evening shows at the Byrd, a historic movie palace from the days when Hollywood was king and a Saturday night movie was traditional highlight of the American week.

Turns out we were lucky on that score, the 7:30 p.m. feature being "The Emperor's Club," starring Kevin Kline. From the days when I was a frustrating academic problem for my parents, I could strongly identify with life in a private high school. I highly recommend it for those who, like me, are fierce educational traditionalists.

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