Every night at the Castro, crowds roar as the mighty organ rises – and no, that's not a euphemism. Showtime at this 1922 art deco movie palace is heralded with Wurlitzer organ show tunes, culminating in sing-alongs to the Judy Garland anthem 'San Francisco.' Architect Timothy Pflueger's OTT Spanish-Moorish-Asian style inspired the Wizard of Oz sets, but earthquake-shy San Franciscans avoid sitting under his pointy metal chandelier.
The Castro Theatre's neon marquee and entry window displays announce upcoming features, including silver-screen classics and film festival premieres. But check the website well ahead to score tickets to the Castro Theatre's wildly popular drag reenactments of cult flicks – from Valley of the Dolls to Mean Girls – and singalong musicals, including Bohemian Rhapsody and Wizard of Oz. At audience-participation events, everyone is given kits containing glow sticks, bubbles, and noisemakers to punctuate the movie's most dramatic moments. This is not your typical movie-going experience, but more like Rocky Horror Picture Show – only without rules or a script. When the Castro bursts with bubbles and wisecracks, it's quintessential San Francisco – and a cinema experience like no other.