If you haven’t, you are invited to step back in time to the 1920s when you could have watched the legendary classic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” starring Lon Chaney. The Palace’s screening of this classic will feature Tommy Stark playing an original score on the mighty pipe organ just like it would have been “back then”. These increasingly popular Silent Movie Nights support both the Palace Theater and The Hilo Theatre Organ Society that maintains the impressive organ.
This silent screen version of the often filmed (I mean, even Disney remade this one!) novel by Victor Hugo remains a powerfully entertaining movie nearly 90 years after its release. Filmed in 1923, the movie is older than the Palace Theater itself!
Lon Chaney gives a brilliant performance as the grotesque bell ringer Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. He is deaf and half blind; his only joy in life is ringing the cathedral bells.
Chaney wore a fake “dead” eye, a wig, a putty nose, a plaster hump and braces on his legs. Chaney hobbles around, constantly licking his lips and grimacing, making his version of Quasimodo so memorable! This incredibly dedicated actor never relied on those outward trappings to carry the part and manages to convey real emotion in several scenes.
Set in 15th Century Paris, ten years before Columbus discovered America, “Hunchback” personifies the word Gothic. It begins on the annual Festival of Fools. The one day when the oppressed subjects of King Louis XI’s tyranny get to let loose and have some fun. Quasimodo gets crowned King of the Fools during the revelry.
Tommy Stark, a member of the Hilo Theatre Organ Society, enjoys the process of selecting a film, then preparing his musical background to accompany the on-screen activity. He reports that only at the actual performance does he finally put the music and what he watches together so it is “fresh and truly live.”
Reports Stark, “The Hilo Theatre Organ Society has an exciting announcement: The Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, California has donated a very rare set of pipes for our pipe organ. The set of ‘Serpent Post Horn’ pipes will being us a ‘snarly bright trumpet sound’ built and voiced by famed pipe organ builder Kenny Kukutt of Los Angeles.”
“We’ve wanted this extra sound for years but the $15,000 cost has been prohibitive,” he adds. “we may not have it in time for this show but stay tuned. The Palace will let you know when to listen for the new sound.”
If you would like to help maintain or repair the pipe organ directly by making a restricted donation to the organ, you can donate to the Palace Theater noting that your donation is for the “organ fund”. All donations remain a tax deductible donation under IRS guidelines. Both the Palace Theater and the Hilo Theatre Organ Society are 501c3 non-profits. The presentation of Silent Movie Nights are fundraisers to benefit the theater and to maintain a fund to keep the mighty pipe organ entertaining the Hilo community.
Says Morgen Bahurinsky, Executive Director of the Palace Theater, “We hope to see the theater packed with silent movie, Lon Chaney and pipe organ fans. We are so lucky to have this amazing piece of musical equipment in our historic theater. Please come and enjoy. It is an experience you will never forget.”
Make plans now to come on Friday, September 22nd at 7pm! Tickets remain at $10 for presale and $12 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at the box office or over the phone with a credit card at 934-7010, M-F, 10AM-3PM.