Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck died last year, but his band's recording of "Take Five" will be an emblem of cool for years to come. It already has been for more than 50 years. The song popped into my head during the Aug. 14 reception for Point Cinema's new Take Five Lounge. I wonder if this space can withstand the tides of cool, too.
Marcus Theatres execs in suits and ties leaned on midcentury-style furniture, cocktails in hand. Naturally, Mad Men came to mind. A few of the bartenders' specialties remind me of vodka-guzzling ad man Don Draper. Plus, Don and his actress wife, Megan, would recognize the photos on the lounge's walls. Large black-and-white movie stills encourage visitors to discuss Hollywood's Golden Age.
Cinema manager James Bryan says some of these prints are nearly impossible to find elsewhere.
"We have one of Laurel and Hardy that's very rare," he says. "It makes the lounge a little more special."
One of my favorites is an image of the 1923 silent comedy Safety Last! Harold Lloyd clutches the hands of a skyscraper clock whose facade has started to break. The look on his face is priceless. Near the entrance is another gem: a shot of John Wayne directing The Alamo.
The back of the 100-person space has a 20-foot-wide HDTV, which Bryan plans to use for casual film screenings and broadcasts of Badgers and Packers games.
"The screen is probably the biggest draw, other than the bar," Bryan says. "We want the lounge to be a place people come and hang out with friends, even if they're not going to the movies."
It's worth a trip to see the design features alone, especially if you love looks from the 1920s through the '60s. In a nod to mod, Schroeder and Holt Architects paired clean lines with circular shapes. Booths are half-moons, and lamps sport shades made of concentric cylinders. A massive light near the entrance reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright's design for the Monona Terrace fountain. It marries the lounge's midcentury elements with flourishes inspired by earlier eras, like the bar's Prairie-style lighting panes and the Art Deco typeface of the restroom signs. (Fun fact for typography nerds: This font was created by Wisconsin's Morris Fuller Benton.)
The other circles tend to be thin-crust pizzas. Sourced from Zaffiro's, a popular Milwaukee eatery, they can be taken into the screening rooms, along with beer and wine, says Marcus communications manager Carlo Petrick.
The Take Five Lounge replaces an old auditorium. Other renovations include new box office and concessions areas, automated kiosks for ticket pick-up, and a huge Marcus marquee atop the building.
"Pretty much every corridor has been updated. We added a kitchen area and changed the color scheme, and there are all-new seats except for the Ultrascreen seats, which are about a year old," Bryan says. "People are blown away by the lounge, and they're even excited about the new frozen yogurt machine. There's something new everywhere you look."