Sold-out free show included hundreds dressed as characters from the 1920s-era series.

More than 300 turn out for Downton Abbey’s Season Four premiere at The Strand

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:00pm

    ROCKLAND — Despite the freezing cold temperatures Saturday night, Dec. 14, hundreds of locals, many in 1920s period garb, gathered at the Strand Theatre for the Season 4 premiere of the cult-following show Downton Abbey.

    “It was a lot of fun. We had more than 300 people, almost a sold-out crowd. People really got dressed up for this,” said Jana Herbener, marketing manager.

    For those who might have heard of the name, but not seen the shows, Downton Abbey is a British period drama television series created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and PBS Masterpiece.

    It first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom and Ireland in September 2010, and on PBS in the United States in January 2011. Four series have been made so far.

    The series, set on a Yorkshire country estate, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era — with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy.

    The event drew the die-hard fans of the show.

    “Those who came in costume looked like they could have stepped right off the set,” said theatre manager Liz McLeod.

    Herbener, a follower of the show herself said:  “There’s something really compelling about this show. People just like to sink into this world. Characters are very believable to me, they have their foibles and their charms. I think it’s real escapism, that time frame, that setting; it’s really appealing to people.”

    She said some folks were so invested in knowing what happened after Season 3’s cliffhanger, they skipped the preliminary photos to get right to their seats. During the Season 4 premiere, she said, “They were some gasps and laughing out loud when Maggie Smith would toss off one of her acerbic comments.”

    MPBN, a sponsor of the free event, held a 1920s costume contest for attendees before the show.The winner was Rachel Oakes.

    “She looked like she could have been one of the Crawley daughters, like a flapper,”said Herbener.

    The Strand Theatre has been opening itself up to hip, new directions, with this type of event.

    “We’re always open to new things, like this,” said Herbener. “MPBN approached us to do the screening here. They had already done one showing at Portland Museum of Art. Charles Beck came to introduce the program and they had some giveaways like the summons bells that you see in the show [whenever the Crawley family wants one of the servants to respond to a need].”

    Coming up Jan. 2 from the National Theater of London, the Strand Theatre will offer two HD broadcasts of Frankenstein.  What's particularly interesting is that the actors are well-known and popular—Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC's Sherlock, and Star Trek: Into Darkness) and Jonny Lee Miller (CBS's Elementary, and Trainspotting); will switch roles in the two productions. The 2 p.m. show stars Cumberbatch as Dr. Frankenstein and Miller as the Creature, and in the 7 p.m. show, they alternate roles.

    For information about all Strand Theatre films, live music and performance events, and HD broadcasts, visit

    All photos courtesy Dan Lambert/MPBN

    Kay Stephens can be reached at