Wolf Trap presents drive-in movie series

Wolf Trap presents a summer drive-in movie series. (Wolf Trap)
WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Wolf Trap Drive-In

Wolf Trap is one of the most beloved summer entertainment venues in the D.C. region.

During the pandemic, it’s adapting from crowded concerts to socially-distanced events.

“It is [a] crazy, sad, frustrating year for all of us,” Wolf Trap CEO and president Arvind Manocha told WTOP. “We’ve really been unable to do the core of what we do over at Wolf Trap National Park. … Ultimately, we had to cancel the live concert season that we had planned. We moved a lot of concerts into next year, but that left us with a void.”

To fill that void, Wolf Trap is launching a special drive-in movie series this week.

“Drive-in movies have been allowed ever since Stage 1 in Virginia,” Manocha said. “We can pop up for a week, do a series of movies that are musical in nature. It’s not exactly the Wolf Trap experience, but it gives people an opportunity to come out to the park, sit in their car or next to their car, do picnics and things they would typically do on the lawn.”

Wednesday presents the mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap!” (1984), Thursday brings the musical “Mamma Mia” (2008), Friday offers the animated flick “Sing” (2016), Saturday delivers the musical “Dreamgirls” (2006) and Sunday wraps with “Dirty Dancing” (1987).

“We picked them all because they have music at their core,” Manocha said. “They’re all classic, great movies. … When you hear any of the titles, you immediately think about the soundtrack. I think that was our guiding principle: When you hear the title of this movie, what’s the first thing you think about? In almost every one of these cases, it’s music.”

Parking opens at 7 p.m. with screenings at 8:30 p.m. in the East Lot of Wolf Trap.

“The drive-in is going to operate like a traditional drive-in in the sense that you’re in a parking lot, you parked your car and there’s a screen on one end of the lot,” Manocha said. “The lot that we’re using is the one just at the base of the entrance to the park.”

What social distance guidelines are they implementing?

“Essentially, you have a designated spot and then a spot next to your car where you can sit outside and picnic,” Manocha said. “Those areas are then distanced from each other so that nobody is in each other’s bubble.”

Feel free to bring your own picnic. Food is available for purchase but must be pre-ordered.

“When you drive in, you can pick up your snack pack at a tent,” Manocha said. “There’s no concession window because of the pre-purchasing and delivery of the snack pack, so we ask that you’re either in your car or in your adjacent picnicking spot. If you’re outside your car, we ask that you wear a mask.”

Parking spaces are currently sold out, but ask your friends on social media to carpool.

“We were very thrilled and happy and quite grateful that there was such a positive response and people have lined up and reserved all of those parking spots,” Manocha said. “But you never know, if you have a friend or neighbor who has a spot and only has two people going, maybe he or she will take you and your friend to sit in the backseat.”

In the end, Wolf Trap is doing its best to provide entertainment during a unique time.

“It’s just a way for us to say, ‘Look, we know it’s not a regular year and this is not the normal thing, but it is something that we can do together as a community to be at Wolf Trap for a very concentrated period of time this summer,'” Manocha said.

He can’t wait for the venue to get back to normal concerts, hopefully next summer.

“I personally am very optimistic,” Manocha said. “This is an intermission, the show is not over yet, the science will catch up, we will have a safe environment, and when that happens, Wolf Trap will be ready to welcome our huge community of music lovers back.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with Arvind Manocha (Full Interview)
Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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