Audiences return to yesteryear when the Mauch Chunk Opera House features silent film accompanied by the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra on Sunday, October 12.
When the Opera House was purchased in 1925 by the Comerford Company of Buffalo, NY, silent film had already come into its own, featuring box office stars Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and many others.
Originally built in 1881, the Opera House was remodeled to accommodate the tastes of the day, and provide state-of-the-art entertainment to residents and visitors who arrived in town (then known as Mauch Chunk) from New York’s Penn Station by the trainload, several times a day.
Audiences saw top-shelf ensembles performing scores written specially for the silent films they watched. If Charlie Chaplin was poked on the head, there was a musical sound for it that was written into the score. It wasn’t as if the orchestra simply performed a soundtrack: the music was integral to the experience of viewing the film.
Courtesy of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, that’s what a 21st-century audience will get to experience on Sunday, October 12 at 6 PM. Conductor and orchestra leader Rick Benjamin is able to present a fascinating experience that takes audiences back in time.
The orchestra was founded in 1985 by Benjamin and prompted by his discovery of an enormous cache of musical arrangements belonging to a theater orchestra, once led by Arthur Pryor. Benjamin organized a number of his fellow students at Juilliard to perform the material, and in 1988 The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra made its public premiere at New York’s Alice Tully Hall as the first period instrument ensemble to appear there.
Featuring the silent film stars Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd, the films speak to an earlier time when these actors were famous and America’s music was Ragtime.
Read the Opera House’s fascinating interview with conductor Rick Benjamin, here.
Tickets cost only $25 for this one-of-a-kind experience and purchased online 24/7 at mcohjt.com, or call the Opera House box office at 570-325-0249.