'Wishin' & Hopin'' film premiere will bring movie stars to New London

The movie version of Wally Lamb’s comic novel “Wishin’ & Hopin’” will have its world premiere at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Garde Arts Center in New London.

The film, shot in and around Norwich, stars Molly Ringwald, Annabella Sciorra, Meat Loaf, Conchata Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, Danny Nucci, Wyatte Raiff, Quinn McColgan and Chevy Chase.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the producers and a meet-and-greet in the lobby with Lamb and the actors. Before the screening, there will be a private cast and crew reception.

“Wishin’ & Hopin’” was made by Synthetic Cinema International, which is based in Rocky Hill. Producers are Andrew Gernhard, Zach O’Brien and Shane O’Brien, and executive producers are Wally Lamb, Richard Lucas and Bonnie Farley-Lucas.

“Wishin’ & Hopin’” was filmed this summer, with a great number of local extras, at Norwich Free Academy as well as other locations in Norwich, Jewett City and Willimantic. The towns stand in for the fictional Three Rivers, Conn., where, in 1964, Felix Funicello is a fifth-grade student at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School. This is a coming-of-age tale set during the Christmas season.

Lamb, who grew up in Norwich, taught English and writing at NFA for 25 years before becoming an associate professor of English at the University of Connecticut — and a bestselling author. His novels include “She’s Come Undone,” “I Know This Much Is True,” “The Hour I First Believed” and “We Are Water.”

Gernhard said that Lamb and he wanted the movie premiere here “so the folks that supported the project from the state could be the first to enjoy it.”

After that, it will be released in New York City and Los Angeles and other markets.

Colin Theys directed “Wishin’ & Hopin’” from a screenplay by John Doolan.

Admission to the Nov. 23 screening is $25 for adults, $15 for ages 16 and under. Partial proceeds from the premiere will be donated to St. Vincent de Paul Place (Norwich), The New London Community Meal Center (New London), and the Covenant Soup Kitchen (Willimantic).

For tickets, call (860) 444-7373 or visit gardearts.org.

k.dorsey@theday.com

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