Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The countdown to 'Frau im Mond,' the movie that introduced the pre-launch countdown

The backwards 3-2-1 countdown to a rocket launch is a common practice. But where did it start?

Look no further than the world of silent film, where German director Fritz Lang chose to use it to increase the drama of mankind's first-ever lunar voyage.

That voyage was depicted in 'Frau im Mond,' or 'Woman in the Moon' (1929), Lang's final silent, a bizarre film that imagines a Weimar-era German space program that was never meant to be.

In the film, the countdown looks pretty much as we've always known it: 10, 9, 8, and so forth. The only difference is that at zero, instead of saying "Blast off!" or something like that, in 'Frau im Mond' it's "Jetzt!", the German word for "Now!"

On the lunar surface: a hiking expedition in search of—what else?—gold!

And NOW a different sort of countdown is underway: as of noon today (Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019), we've passed the four-day mark in terms of the time remaining before the launch of this year's Boston 24-Hour Sci-Fi Marathon.

The annual marathon, which includes a screening of 'Frau im Mond' this year, begins on Sunday, Feb. 17 at noon at its long-time home, the Somerville (Mass.) Theatre in Davis Square.

As tradition demands, the marathon starts with a 35mm print of the 1952 Warner Bros. cartoon 'Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century.'

And it then runs for 24 hours, all through the night and straight through to noon on Monday, Feb. 18. And a countdown is appropriate because the marathon constitutes an epic voyage all its own: about 500 fanatics join together for 24 hours filled with cinematic visions of other worlds gone by or yet to come. Strap yourself in!

On this year's program are a dozen feature films, with most shown via 35mm vault prints: titles such as 'Dr. Cyclops' (1940); 'Andromeda Strain' (1991); Escape from New York (1987); 'Roller Ball' (1975), and a clutch of others, highlighted by a 70mm print of 'Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country' (1991).

And then there's 'Frau,' countdown and all. Ever since I discovered it, I've thought of it as the forgotten companion to Lang's 'Metropolis' (1927), its famous predecessor.

And for a long time I've wanted to accompany it at the 'Thon, as it's called by long-time devotees. And sometime early on Sunday evening (when it's slotted to run), I'll get my wish.

Why the 'Thon? Because I think it's the perfect audience for this flick, in which Lang merged his appetite for pulp sci-fi stories of the era with what was then cutting-edge scientific know-how.

In the 1920s, German scientists were in the forefront of rocket propulsion. In making 'Frau im Mond,' Lang tapped noted rocketry experts such as Hermann Oberth, who received equal billing to the film's stars in the credits.

After World War II, many German rocket experts contributed to the U.S. space program, most notably Werner von Braun (a big fan of 'Frau im Mond') but scores and scores of others.

So what we see in 'Frau im Mond' isn't total fantasy, but a draft of NASA's Apollo moon program 40 years before it became reality.

The Eagle has landed, about 40 years early.

And in this year of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's moon landing, it's only fitting that the 'Thon include 'Frau im Mond' on the program.

Tickets for the Sci-Fi Marathon are $90 and cover admission to the whole event; you can buy online at www.bostonscifi.com.

Alas, it's not possible to get tickets for each individual film. But if you'd like to catch 'Frau im Mond' another time, I'm accompanying it at several other venues later this year.

For more info, check out the "Upcoming Screenings" page on this site.

But if you can make it to the 'Thon, I can promise you it will be a 'Frau im Mond' like none other.

Plus you get 'Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century' in 35mm!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tubas and pot luck and movies, oh my! Plus thoughts on scoring 'Woman in the Moon' at this year's Boston Sci-Fi Marathon

First, if you're wondering what a concert looks like from the perspective of a tuba player, here you go:


On the podium is Dani Rimoni, director of the Dino Anagnost Youth Symphony Orchestra of New Hampshire. We're just finishing the first movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, which has no tuba part, which allowed me to take the picture.

This is at a concert on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Manchester (N.H.) Community Music School in which my Yamaha concert bass tuba and I sat in with the low brass during the group's winter performance.

I'm technically not qualified to be in the youth orchestra, as I'm not a youth. (Also, I don't play nearly at the level as these kids do!) But there's apparently a something of a shortage of low brass players, and it must be truly severe if they called me to sit in.

And although there's no tuba in Beethoven's 5th, there IS in the Academic Festival Overture by Brahms, which was also on the program. And so I got to bomp along with the trombones when Brahms got frisky with his orchestration.

Also on the program was a medley of music from 'West Side Story,' but somehow no tuba part was printed. So I played off a string bass part, coming in judiciously to avoid making it sound like an oompah band during "I Feel Pretty."

Maestro Rimoni, conducting from a piano score, seemed to like what I was doing: at rehearsal, at one point during a soft transition, I hit it just right doubling the double bass, and he mentioned later that it sounded really powerful.

But I had no time to bask in the glow of the only compliment I've ever received for my tuba playing, as I had to dash an hour north to make it in time for the Campton Historical Society's annual Pot Luck and Silent Film event!

Yes, this is what winter in New Hampshire looks like, both scenically and culturally.

I was there to accompany the silent film, which was Buster Keaton's 'Our Hospitality' (1923).

But the pot luck supper is a highlight, and there's always a few surprises. This time it was a shepherd's pie in which taco sauce was used. It worked!

Buster killed, as usual. As the years go by, I've found that of all the Keaton features, 'Our Hospitality' seems to get perhaps the strongest overall response from audiences.

Yes, 'The General' and 'Steamboat Bill Jr.' are popular and always get a reaction. 'The Navigator' is among my personal favorites, but only once have I seen it produce a sustained laugh-out-loud response. And whatever else happens, 'Seven Chances' always springs to life when the brides start marching down the streets.

But 'Our Hospitality' has emerged as the most all-around sure-fire Keaton opus. Why? Well, it's a great balance of story and comedy, and a great introduction to Buster's unique visual humor, and perhaps its historic setting (in the 1820s) helps it seem somehow universal and accessible to our modern eyes. ('The General,' set in the 1860s, has this going for it as well.)

Well, for whatever reason, it happened again last Saturday night. 'Our Hospitality' was greeted with constant outbursts of astonished laughter (to use Walter Kerr's phrase), and a foot-stomping ovation at the waterfall rescue. I mean, it just really works.

This weekend brings a pre-Valentines Day screening of Rudolph Valentino is 'The Eagle' (1925), and then the weekend after that brings a screening that represents the culmination of eight years of badgering.

Ever since I discovered Fritz Lang's 'Woman in the Moon' (1929) and the Boston Sci-Fi Marathon (held every Presidents Day weekend, now in its 44th year), I've wanted to bring them together.

And now, after eight years of badgering, and wheedling, and imploring, and other words I'm too lazy to look up in a thesaurus, my dream is finally happening.

On Sunday, Feb. 17, I will enter the Somerville Theatre sometime after 6 p.m to accompany 'Woman in the Moon' before an audience of 700 hard core sci-fi fanatics.

It's not your usual silent film crowd. But that's the point!

Some people dream of getting the Congressional Medal of Honor. Some people just want their kids to respect them. For me, this is it — for years now, accompanying 'Woman in the Moon' at the Boston Sci-Fi Marathon is all I've ever aspired to do.

And now it's about to happen. And if you'd like to be on hand to witness this transit, I'm pasting in a press release below that has all the info.

For me, I'm elated. I'm ecstatic. I'm, I'm...hey, get me that thesaurus!

* * *

A promotional poster for 'Frau im Mond' (1929).

TUESDAY, FEB. 5, 2019 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jeffrapsis@gmail.com

Boston Sci-Fi Marathon highlighted by early silent German space travel epic that predicted Apollo program

'Woman in the Moon,' Fritz Lang's pioneer fantasy about mankind's first lunar voyage, to be shown with live music during 44th annual Presidents Day weekend event

SOMERVILLE, Mass.—A sci-fi adventure hailed as the first feature film to depict realistic space travel will be screened this month as part of the annual Boston Sci-Fi Marathon over Presidents Day weekend.

'Woman in the Moon' (1929), directed by German filmmaker Fritz Lang ('Metropolis,' 1927), will be shown with live music during the 24-hour event, which starts at noon on Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville.

The screening is a highlight of the 44th year of the Science Fiction Marathon, which bills itself as the nation's longest-running genre film event. This year's marathon includes a total of 11 feature films, many presented using 35mm or 70mm prints from studio vaults.

In addition to 'Woman in the Moon,' titles include 'Rollerball' (1975), 'Andromeda Strain' (1991), and 'Inner Space' (1987), and Dr. Cyclops (1940).

'Woman in the Moon' holds a special place in this year's line-up, in part because of the 50th anniversary of the actual Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, which it anticipated in many remarkable ways.

On the lunar surface: 'Woman in the Moon.'

" 'Woman in the Moon' is a great and at-times bizarre film, one that must be seen to be believed," said Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist who will create live music for the screening.

Director Fritz Lang, responsible for the groundbreaking sci-fi epic 'Metropolis' (1927), planned 'Woman in the Moon' as another step in his quest to stretch cinema's visual, story-telling, and imaginative capabilities.

The rarely seen full-length version of 'Woman in the Moon' follows an intrepid band of German space pioneers as they attempt mankind's first voyage to the lunar surface, where they hope to find large deposits of gold.

The film, made with German rocket experts as technical advisers, anticipated many of the techniques used by NASA for the Apollo moon launch program 40 years later. For example, a multi-stage rocket is employed to escape Earth's gravity, and a separate capsule is used to reach the lunar surface.

Willy Fritsch prepares to pull the lever.

The film is also noted for introducing the idea of a dramatic "countdown" prior to launch, which later became standard procedure in actual space flight. Critics regard the film's extended launch sequence as a masterpiece of editing and dramatic tension.

But 'Woman in the Moon,' with its melodramatic plot, also stands as the forerunner of many sci-fi soap opera elements that quickly became clichés: the brilliant but misunderstood professor; a love triangle involving a female scientist and her two male colleagues; a plucky young boy who yearns to join the expedition; fistfights and gunfire and treachery on the lunar surface.

Added to the mix is a vision of the moon (created entirely on a massive studio set in Berlin, Germany) that features a breathable atmosphere, giant sand dunes, distant mountain peaks, and bubbling mud pits.

The moon as imagined by Fritz Lang.

"Including 'Woman in the Moon' in this year's Sci-Fi Marathon, with its foreshadowing of the Apollo program, is a great way to acknowledge this year's 50th anniversary of mankind's actual landing on the moon," Rapsis said.

"And as a past vision of a future that didn't quite come to be, it really gets you thinking of time and how we perceive it."

Rapsis, a resident of Bedford, N.H., will improvise live musical accompaniment during the screening, using a digital synthesizer to recreate the sound of a full orchestra and other more exotic textures.

'Woman in the Moon,' a full-length feature than runs more than 2½ hours, should not be confused with the much earlier film 'A Trip to Moon,' a primitive "trick" short movie made by French filmmaker George Méliès in 1902 and famous for the image of a space capsule hitting the eye of an imaginary moon man.

"Unlike the Méliès film, there's nothing primitive about 'Woman in the Moon,' " Rapsis said. "It's silent film story-telling at the peak of its eloquence, with lively performances, imaginative camera angles, and superb photography."

Bad timing is one reason that 'Woman in the Moon' (titled 'Frau im Mond' in German) is not as well known today as 'Metropolis,' its legendary predecessor. Lang completed 'Woman in the Moon' just as the silent film era was coming to a close.

As one of the last silent films of German cinema, 'Woman in the Moon' was unable to compete with new talking pictures then in theaters, making it a box office flop at its premiere in October, 1929.

However, German rocket scientist Hermann Oberth worked as an adviser on the movie, and it developed cult status among the rocket scientists in Wernher von Braun's circle starting in the 1930s. During World War II, the first successfully launched V-2 rocket at the German rocket facility in Peenemünde had the "Woman in the Moon" logo painted on its base.

During the war, the Nazis tried to recall and destroy all prints of 'Woman in the Moon' due to its detailed depiction of state-of-the-art rocket propulsion technology; in later years, this served to make the film even more hard to find. For many years, the film was available only in cut-down 16mm versions that ran as short as one hour.

But pristine and complete 35mm copies of 'Woman in the Moon' did survive in several European archives. Today, restored prints are amazingly clear and sharp, Rapsis said.

" 'Woman in the Moon' is technically one of the best-looking silent films I've ever seen," he said. "If you think all silent films are grainy and scratchy-looking, 'Woman in the Moon' will change your mind. It's like an Ansel Adams photograph come to life."

"Although 'Woman in the Moon' is available for home viewing, this is a motion picture that should be experienced as intended: on the big screen, with live music, and with an audience," Rapsis said. "There's nothing like it."

'Woman in the Moon' will be shown as part of the 44th Annual Boston Science Fiction Marathon, which begins on Sunday, Feb. 17 at noon at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, Mass.

Tickets to the 24-hour marathon are $90 per person and available at www.bostonscifi.com. Tickets for individual movies shown during the Sci-Fi Marathon are not available.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Cheap eats and cheap seats in Keene, N.H., plus Keaton, Valentino screenings coming soon

The marquee last Tuesday night at the Colonial Theatre in downtown Keene, N.H.

I can't wait to tell you all about this week's screening of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (1923) at the Colonial Theatre in Keene, N.H.

But it says a lot about my priorities when I have to say first that I was flat-out amazed by the meal I had just before the show down the street at Lindy's Diner.

Really! Two chicken croquettes, mashed potatoes with gravy, a generous helping of carrots—mind you, all served piping—plus two rolls and butter, and coffee with refills, all for...$8.18!

Can you believe it? I actually took a picture:


On a cold night with snow starting to fall, this was just what the doctor ordered. Really—if prescribed, I believe it would mitigate the symptoms of most afflictions, physical or mental.

In any case, it was great show prep for the on-screen visual feast to come at the Colonial.

And, given my inexpensive meal, would it not seem equally amazing that the admission price for our screening of 'Hunchback' was the sum of...35 cents!

Really? 'Hunchback' on a cold Tuesday night in Keene, N.H., and an absurdly low admission price? What's going on here?

What was going on is that the Colonial's grand opening night was exactly 95 years ago: Jan. 29, 1924. And the opening night attraction, yes, was 'Hunchback,' the Universal blockbuster starring Lon Chaney.

And yes, admission that night was 35 cents per person.

So last Tuesday night in Keene, the audience and I all joined in to recreate not just the early movie-going experience, but also opening night at the Colonial, a terrific medium-sized theater which continues to serve Keene and the surrounding Monadnock Region as a first-class (and now non-profit) performing arts center.

And the comedian in me has to observe that a 35-cent ticket price isn't about to endanger their non-profit status. Har! (Rim shot here, please.)

With a snowstorm looming, no one was sure who might show up, despite the bargain entrance fee. But we got a healthy crowd, and it didn't take long for 'Hunchback' to get everyone absorbed. Reaction was gratifyingly strong throughout.

I think it's a great film for music: lots of scenes that lend themselves to the big lines that I like to spin.

I've done the film quite a few times, but not recently. One element with which I've never been satisfied is the music I create for Esmeralda, the gypsy girl, which always ends up sounding too slow and too much like the Habanara from 'Carmen.'

This time, I deliberately used different material: specifically, a 3/4 riff that I created for action scenes in 'Zorro' (1920) starring Douglas Fairbanks. It worked really well as a theme for Esmeralda! Specifically, it has a modal flavor, and so I could use it to shape some of the big scenes so "her" music was referenced, at least harmonically.

Anyway: another reason to support recycling!

The film got a big ovation, and I had some great conversations afterwards with people who couldn't believe the score was improvised live.

I try to illustrate how it's not all that unusual by pointing out that we're doing it right now: we're having a conversation in real time, and we're not following a script.

The folks at the Colonial were excellent to work with, and there's been enough of an audience interest to merit exploring a regular series of screenings to round out the Colonial's offerings.

I would love to work with them on this, as I love how a venue such as the Colonial are perfect places to exhibit films from a century ago in the way they were intended to be shown.

Plus, these films were designed from the ground up to be experienced by a group of people coming together. And a hundred years later, we need that kind of experience more than ever!

And in the theater world, which faces more and more competition from so many other sources of entertainment (most of it consumed at home), it's important to offer experiences that only a theater can do: such as silent film with live music!

So we'll see what the schedule brings for Keene, N.H. Me—I'd be delighted at the chance to eat regularly at Lindy's. :)

Before that happens, two upcoming screenings might warm you up during this cold spell that's now hit New England. (It's 10 below outside as I write.)

On Saturday, Feb. 2, the good folks at the Campton Historical Society (in Campton N.H.) will hold their now-annual pot luck summer/silent movie night. It's free and the public is welcome, especially if you bring a dish to share at the supper, which starts at 5 p.m. (Here we go with food again, but every year some excellent dishes turn up at this event.)

The movie program, highlighted by Buster Keaton's 'Our Hospitality' (1923), begins at whatever time everyone finished eating. Usually that's about 6:15 p.m. or so.

The post-food attraction in Campton, N.H. on Saturday, Feb. 2.

It'll be interesting this year because I've volunteered to play bass tuba (my other instrument) for a youth concert in Manchester, N.H. that afternoon. It's about an hour and some change up to get to Campton, so if you see a green Subaru Forester bombing up Interstate 93 that afternoon, that'll be me trying to make it to Campton before all the vittles is gone.

More details about this show are on the "Upcoming Screenings" page. Hope to see you there, but make sure you leave some dinner for me, willya?

And then the week after that, it's Rudolph Valentino in 'The Eagle' (1925), a pre-Valentine's Day show on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 4:30 p.m. at the Wilton (N.H.) Town Hall Theatre.

At Wilton, we usually run silents the last Sunday of the month, but that weekend I'm making my annual pilgrimage to the Kansas Silent Film Festival, so we moved the Wilton date up to take advantage of Valentino/Valentine's Day synergy.

Hope to see you at that one as well. For more info, check out the press release below.

* * *

Vilma Banky and Rudy Valentino generate heat in 'The Eagle' (1925).

THURSDAY, JAN. 31, 2019 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jeffrapsis@gmail.com

Warm up for Valentine's Day with Valentino at the Town Hall Theatre


'The Eagle' (1925), starring silent film icon Rudolph Valentino, to screen in Wilton, N.H. on Sunday, Feb. 10 with live music

WILTON, N.H.—He was the cinema’s first sex symbol, causing hordes of female moviegoers to flock to his pictures throughout the 1920s. He starred in films designed to show off his Latin looks, his smoldering eyes, and his dancer’s body. And his untimely death in 1926 prompted mob scenes at his funeral.

He was Rudolph Valentino, who remains an icon for on-screen passion long after he caused a sensation in the 1920s.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, one of Valentino’s most acclaimed films will be screened with live music on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., Wilton, N.H.

‘The Eagle’ (1925), a racy story set in Czarist Russia, proved one of his most popular features and marked a peak in his brief career.

Based on the novel Dubrovsky by Alexander Pushkin, ‘The Eagle’ casts Valentino as a lieutenant and expert horseman in the Russian army who catches the eye of Czarina Catherine II. After he rejects her advances and flees, she puts out a warrant for his arrest, dead or alive. When he learns that his father has been persecuted and killed in his hometown, he dons a black mask and becomes an outlaw, finding unexpected romance along the way.

The screening of ‘The Eagle’ will be accompanied by live music by local composer Jeff Rapsis. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5 per person to defray expenses.

An Italian immigrant who arrived penniless at Ellis Island in 1913, Valentino rose to superstar status in a series of silent pictures that enflamed the passions of female movie-goers from coast to coast and around the world.

But he was more than a pretty face—during his career, critics praised Valentino as a versatile actor capable of playing a variety of roles; his achievements included popularizing the Argentinian tango in the 1921 drama ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’

‘The Eagle’ was Valentino’s next-to-last film, released the year before his unexpected death at age 31 from complications from peritonitis. Valentino's death in August 1926 occurred at the height of his career, inspiring mourning across the globe and a day-long mob scene at the actor’s New York City funeral.

But Valentino's brief stardom was defined by roles that brought a new level of exotic sexuality to the movies, causing a sensation at the time. In theaters, women openly swooned over Valentino’s on-screen image, especially in pictures such as ‘The Eagle,’ which featured foreign locales and elaborate costumes.

At its peak, Valentino's popularity was so immense that it inspired a backlash among many male movie-goers, who decried Valentino’s elegant image and mannerisms as effeminate.

Valentino’s sudden death fueled his status as a legendary romantic icon of the cinema. For years, a mysterious woman dressed in black would visit his grave at the Hollywood Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, leaving only a single red rose.

Valentino was aware of his effect on audiences, saying that “Women are not in love with me, but with the picture of me on the screen. I am merely the canvas upon which the women paint their dreams.”

‘The Eagle’ is the latest in the Town Hall Theatre's series of monthly silent film screenings with live music. The series aims to recreate the lost magic of early cinema by bringing together the elements needed for silent film to be seen at its best: superior films in best available prints; projection on the big screen; live musical accompaniment; and an audience.

“These films are still exciting experiences if you can show them as they were designed to be screened,” said Jeff Rapsis, the accompanist for the screenings. “There’s a reason people first fell in love with the movies, and we hope to recreate that spirit. At their best, silent films were communal experiences in which the presence of a large audience intensifies everyone’s reactions.”

Live music is a key element of each silent film screening, Rapsis said. Silent movies were never shown in silence, but were accompanied by live music made right in each theater. Most films were not released with official scores, so it was up to local musicians to provide the soundtrack, which could vary greatly from theater to theater.

"Because there's no set soundtrack for most silent films, musicians are free to create new music as they see fit, even today," Rapsis said. "In bringing a film to life, I try to create original 'movie score' music that sounds like what you might expect in a theater today, which helps bridge the gap between today's audiences and silent films that are in some cases nearly 100 years old."

For each film, Rapsis improvises a music score using original themes he creates beforehand. None of the the music is written down; instead, the score evolves in real time based on audience reaction and the overall mood as the movie is screened.

‘The Eagle’ will be shown on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., Wilton, N.H.

Upcoming features in the Town Hall Theater's silent film series include:

• Sunday, March 24, 2019, 4:30 p.m.: "Seven Chances" (1925) starring Buster Keaton. In this 1925 farce, Buster is about to be saved from bankruptcy by an unexpected inheritance of $7 million—but only if he gets married by 7 p.m. that very day. One of Keaton's best comedies, climaxed by one of the great chase scenes in all film, silent or otherwise.

The next installment in the Town Hall Theatre's silent film series will be ‘The Eagle’ (1925), to be screened with live music by Jeff Rapsis on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., Wilton, N.H. Admission is free; a donation of $5 per person is suggested to help defray expenses. For more info, visit www.wiltontownhalltheatre.com or call (603) 654-3456.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Tonight's screening is still on! Plus,
collaborating with guitarist Paul Bielatowicz

Paul and me, and some of Paul's groupies, after the Regent show.

Snow is coming through New England later tonight. But our screening of 'The Yankee Clipper' (1927) at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Mass. is still on.

Doors open at 5 p.m., and the movie starts at 6 p.m. We should be done well before the snow flies.

Jessica Pappathan, the museum's executive direcor, tells me that they've sold over 50 tickets. So let's hope that people are still able to make it in and enjoy this terrific film!

Last night was a special event, in part because of how it was pretty much totally unplanned.

At the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass., I joined guitarist Paul Bielatowicz for an evening of George Méliès films.

Paul, a masterful players who tours all over the world with Carl Palmer and other musical legends, has developed some very interesting musical settings for some of the Méliès films.

So earlier this month, when I got a call from the Belmont World Film Festival about helping them with a Méliès program, I immediately thought of Paul.

I had first seen/heard Paul at the Regent a year ago, when he played an arrangement of the music from Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Sonata to the iconic 1902 Méliès film 'A Trip to the Moon.'

It was quite different from my approach, but very effective. So Paul and I have kept in touch.

He happened to be home in Massachusetts (just prior to another two-month European tour) and, on about 10 days notice, immediately said yes to joining me.

Paul picked out the films and cued them up on his system, which was a big help. All I had to do was show up with my keyboard and play to the titles assigned to me!

A healthy crowd turned out, and we had a great time swapping off various Méliès titles. Paul reprised his 'Trip to the Moon' score, while the big number for me was a full-on orchestral treatment of 'Conquest of the Pole' (1912), which I regard as a late Méliès masterpiece and suitably grand title to close our the program.

But what really great about the program was how Paul and I just naturally spoke about Méliès and his career in between each film. Without any preparation whatsoever, we told the story of his career, his films, his accomplishments, and a little about the times in which he worked.

It fell together quite naturally. Sometimes the best plan is no plan at all!

Thanks to Paul for making last night's Méliès program at the Regent a truly memorable experience...a highlight of the already young year!

And thanks also to Leland Stein of the Regent for recommending me when the festival's original programming plans fell through, and also for introducing me to Paul last year.

And also, thanks to Ellen Gitelman of the Belmont World Film Festival for taking a chance on a last-minute programming switch. It all worked out well!

Okay, fr those of you unintimidated by the snowy forecast, here's the info on tonight's screening of 'The Yankee Clipper' in Newburyport, Mass. Hope to see you there!

* * *

William Boyd (right), eventually better known as Hopalong Cassidy, stars in 'The Yankee Clipper' (1927).

FRIDAY, DEC. 21, 2018 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jeffrapsis@gmail.com

'Yankee Clipper' silent drama with live music Saturday, Jan. 19 at Custom House Maritime Museum


Set sail with action-packed high seas adventure during era of 19th century clipper ships

NEWBURYPORT, Mass.—The era when wind-powered ships ruled the seas comes to life on the silver screen in 'The Yankee Clipper' (1927), a nautical adventure film to be shown on Saturday, Jan. 19 at at the Custom House Maritime Museum, 25 Water St., Newburyport, Mass.

The silent drama, starring a young William Boyd and filmed at sea aboard authentic 19th century vessels, will be screened with live music performed by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist.

Showtime is 6 p.m. Admission is $20 per person for museum members, $25 for non-members, with all proceeds to benefit the Custom House Maritime Museum.

Produced by Cecil B. DeMille and directed by Rupert Julian ('Phantom of the Opera'), 'The Yankee Clipper' set new standards for historical adventure when it was released in 1927.

The film takes place in the 1840s, during a period of intense rivalry between British and American sailing captains to win lucrative trade routes between China and the U.S.

As 'The Yankee Clipper' opens, Captain Winslow (William Boyd) takes a revolutionary new clipper ship, built by his father, on its first voyage from America to the Orient.

While in China, Winslow attends a dinner hosted by a wealthy Chinese merchant and rescues English maiden Lady Jocelyn Huntington (Elinor Fair) from rioting beggars.

Winslow agrees to a race from China to Boston against an English clipper ship, with the fastest vessel to be awarded an important tea contract.

To win, the ships must brave dangerous seas, mutiny, and potential sabotage on board. Romance enters the picture when Lady Jocelyn inadvertently winds up on board the American ship.

The cast features a very young William Boyd in the leading role. Boyd, a popular actor in silent films, would go on to gain fame in later years by playing the character sidekick role of "Hopalong Cassidy" in many Hollywood Westerns. Also, at the time the film was made, female lead Elinor Fair was married to producer Cecil B. DeMille.

The film also features actor Walter Long as Portuguese Joe, a ship's crew member.

Long, a native of Milford, N.H., was a popular character actor with an extensive career in early cinema that ranged from an appearance in D.W. Griffith's epic 'The Birth of a Nation' (1915) all the way to playing the heavy in Laurel & Hardy comedies much later.

Critics today hail 'The Yankee Clipper' as a masterful drama from the height of the silent film era, one imbued with a great sense of authenticity and historical accuracy. The production filmed on location at sea for six weeks aboard the 1856 wooden square-rigger 'Indiana.'

Leonard Maltin called 'The Yankee Clipper' a "splendid 19th-century seagoing adventure, as clipper ships race full-sail from China to Boston to earn a coveted tea trade contract. En route: typhoon! No fresh water! Mutiny! And a woman on board! Realistic yet heightened drama has it all."

Music for 'The Yankee Clipper' will be created live by Jeff Rapsis, who specializes in improvising scores to classic silent films in live performance. For each film, Rapsis will improvise a score from original musical material that he creates beforehand, using a digital synthesizer to recreate the sound and texture of a full orchestra.

"What I try to do," Rapsis said, "is create music that bridges the gap between a film that might be 80 or 90 years old, and the musical expectations of today's audiences."

The Custom House Maritime Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization operated by the Newburyport Maritime Society, whose mission is to protect, preserve and interpret the maritime heritage of the lower Merrimack Valley region and how it relates to American history.

'The Yankee Clipper' will be shown on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Custom House Maritime Museum, 25 Water St., Newburyport, Mass. Admission is $20 for members, $25 for non-members, with all proceeds to benefit the Custom House Maritime Museum. For more information and to buy tickets online, visit www.customhousemaritimemuseum.org, or call (978) 462-8681.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

To France, or China, or Manchester, N.H.: Silent film, live music restarts this weekend

Scoring 'The Yankee Clipper' (1927) on Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Mass.

I'm back.

After a quiet period over the holidays, the silent film performance calendar cranks up again this weekend with three shows in three days:

• On Friday, Jan. 18, it's a George Méliès program at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass. with my fellow silent film accompanist (and world-reknowned guitar-tist) Paul Bielatowicz.

The screening, which we put together just in the past two weeks, starts at 7:30 p.m. It's part of the Belmont International Film Festival.

I'm really looking forward to working with Paul B. again. I first encountered him exactly a year ago at the same theater, and we've been keeping track of each other ever since.

Paul doing his thing.

Paul specializes in Méliès films, and his guitar-based approach to accompaniment is very different from mine. But it's great stuff that he does and well worth hearing live.

Also, Paul is usually touring the world. For example: all February, he'll be criss-crossing Europe with Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy band.

So a chance to hear him close to home is not to be missed!

• On Saturday, Jan. 19, the sailing ship drama 'The Yankee Clipper' (1927) embarks from the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Mass., with music by me.

This should be fun because it's a grand picture in a real cool museum in a building—one designed by the same guy who built the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., which is on the back of all U.S. $10 bills.


It's a great audience flick and always gets a strong reaction. More details and info in the press release below.

• An on Sunday, Jan. 20, the local chapter of the Sons of the Desert (the Laurel & Hardy appreciation society) in Manchester, N.H. celebrates Mr. Hardy's birthday (which is Jan. 18) with a varied film program, including silent titles with live music by you-know-who.

The program is free and all are welcome to attend. The program begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Southside Tavern, 1279 South Willow St., Manchester, N.H.

So, back to the keyboard. Here's another nice weekend (really!) I've gotten myself into: one filled with music and sailing ships and Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy.

Last weekend had some Laurel and Hardy in it as well, as I was able to catch 'Stan & Ollie,' the new biopic about the duo's later years.

I saw it in London, where it opened last Friday amid a ton of local promotion: on billboard, on London buses, in the Underground, you name it!

Yes, even in the Underground.

Well, it worked with me. I was going to wait until getting back to the States. But after absorbing all the news coverage the film was getting, I had take the plunge. (At 16 pounds a ticket, it was more like a swan dive.)

But I'm glad I did, as this is a film that film lovers can really love.

I accepted 'Stan & Ollie' fully and completely from the opening moment, when we first hear a funny scraping sound and it turns out to be Stan sawing off the heel of his shoe, as he did in real life.

Dominating the Odeon in Leicester Square.

After that, I was totally, completely absorbed for the duration of the picture. And I was quite moved to see the lives of two performers I've loved since childhood be the basis for such a warm, wonderful story.

It was a movie I didn't know I'd waited 45 years to see.

I encourage you to see it too, and in a movie theater, if you can find one running it. The U.S. release has been tiny compared to what I saw in the U.K., where I understand it was No. 2 at the box office last weekend.

As for this weekend: well, if you'd like to come to one of my screenings, you can choose between France (Méliès), China ('The Yankee Clipper') and Laurel and Hardy in Manchester, N.H.

If sailing ships are your thing, you won't find a better film than 'Yankee Clipper,' which I'm accompanying on Saturday night at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Mass. Details in the press release below. Hope to see you there!

* * *

On board the 'Yankee Clipper' (1927), starring (and captained by) William Boyd, at right.

FRIDAY, DEC. 21, 2018 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jeffrapsis@gmail.com

'Yankee Clipper' silent drama with live music Saturday, Jan. 19 at Custom House Maritime Museum


Set sail with action-packed high seas adventure during era of 19th century clipper ships

NEWBURYPORT, Mass.—The era when wind-powered ships ruled the seas comes to life on the silver screen in 'The Yankee Clipper' (1927), a nautical adventure film to be shown on Saturday, Jan. 19 at at the Custom House Maritime Museum, 25 Water St., Newburyport, Mass.

The silent drama, starring a young William Boyd and filmed at sea aboard authentic 19th century vessels, will be screened with live music performed by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist.

Showtime is 6 p.m. Admission is $20 per person for museum members, $25 for non-members, with all proceeds to benefit the Custom House Maritime Museum.

Produced by Cecil B. DeMille and directed by Rupert Julian ('Phantom of the Opera'), 'The Yankee Clipper' set new standards for historical adventure when it was released in 1927.

The film takes place in the 1840s, during a period of intense rivalry between British and American sailing captains to win lucrative trade routes between China and the U.S.

As 'The Yankee Clipper' opens, Captain Winslow (William Boyd) takes a revolutionary new clipper ship, built by his father, on its first voyage from America to the Orient.

While in China, Winslow attends a dinner hosted by a wealthy Chinese merchant and rescues English maiden Lady Jocelyn Huntington (Elinor Fair) from rioting beggars.

Winslow agrees to a race from China to Boston against an English clipper ship, with the fastest vessel to be awarded an important tea contract.

To win, the ships must brave dangerous seas, mutiny, and potential sabotage on board. Romance enters the picture when Lady Jocelyn inadvertently winds up on board the American ship.

The cast features a very young William Boyd in the leading role. Boyd, a popular actor in silent films, would go on to gain fame in later years by playing the character sidekick role of "Hopalong Cassidy" in many Hollywood Westerns. Also, at the time the film was made, female lead Elinor Fair was married to producer Cecil B. DeMille.

The film also features actor Walter Long as Portuguese Joe, a ship's crew member.

Long, a native of Milford, N.H., was a popular character actor with an extensive career in early cinema that ranged from an appearance in D.W. Griffith's epic 'The Birth of a Nation' (1915) all the way to playing the heavy in Laurel & Hardy comedies much later.

Critics today hail 'The Yankee Clipper' as a masterful drama from the height of the silent film era, one imbued with a great sense of authenticity and historical accuracy. The production filmed on location at sea for six weeks aboard the 1856 wooden square-rigger 'Indiana.'

Leonard Maltin called 'The Yankee Clipper' a "splendid 19th-century seagoing adventure, as clipper ships race full-sail from China to Boston to earn a coveted tea trade contract. En route: typhoon! No fresh water! Mutiny! And a woman on board! Realistic yet heightened drama has it all."

Music for 'The Yankee Clipper' will be created live by Jeff Rapsis, who specializes in improvising scores to classic silent films in live performance. For each film, Rapsis will improvise a score from original musical material that he creates beforehand, using a digital synthesizer to recreate the sound and texture of a full orchestra.

"What I try to do," Rapsis said, "is create music that bridges the gap between a film that might be 80 or 90 years old, and the musical expectations of today's audiences."

The Custom House Maritime Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization operated by the Newburyport Maritime Society, whose mission is to protect, preserve and interpret the maritime heritage of the lower Merrimack Valley region and how it relates to American history.

'The Yankee Clipper' will be shown on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Custom House Maritime Museum, 25 Water St., Newburyport, Mass. Admission is $20 for members, $25 for non-members, with all proceeds to benefit the Custom House Maritime Museum. For more information and to buy tickets online, visit www.customhousemaritimemuseum.org, or call (978) 462-8681.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Why isn't this film more highly regarded? Thoughts on Griffith's 'Hearts of the World'

Sheet music to go with D.W. Griffith's WWI drama 'Hearts of the World' (1918).

Wow!

That's the reaction of an audience of about 70 people to 'Hearts of the World' (1918), a seldom-screened D.W. Griffith drama that I accompanied yesterday at the Town Hall Theatre in Wilton, N.H.

The picture really blew our collective socks off. Really! Like Griffith's other pictures fro the same time, it held the screen and then some. And having both Gish sisters, Lillian AND Dorothy, in major roles, didn't hurt.

Again: Wow!

And an added element of edge-of-your-seat suspense came when I previewed the film just prior to the screening, and the disc we were using (the only one I had) began freezing and pixellating in the climactic final 15 minutes. Youch!

I found I could get it to run in a Blu-ray machine rather than the old DVD player I use in my office, but still... At the theater, we really didn't know if the movie would play all the way through, but it did, adding an extra note of triumph.

So one more time: Wow!

I was wondering if 'Hearts of the World' would work 100 years after its release, and the answer was a resounding YES. It's cut from the same cloth as Griffith's other big melodramas: a story that hooks an audience early, intense emotional confrontations, a thrilling race-to-the-finish climax, and scenes of Lillian Gish losing her mind.

Robert Harron prepares to shoot his sweetheart, Lillian Gish, rather than allow her to fall into the hands of the Huns, in 'Hearts of the World.'

As with most of the early Griffith features, it took time to really get going. But once underway, the two-hour picture (short for Griffith at this time) played like a house afire. Our audience applauded, cheered, and reacted strongly throughout.

So the question is: why isn't this film more highly regarded? Why isn't it better known? Griffith made it right after 'Birth of a Nation' (1915) and Intolerance (1916), and just before 'Broken Blossoms' (1919) and 'Way Down East' (1920), all acknowledged as among his greatest achievements.

I'd have to guess that it's partly due to the reputation of 'Hearts of the World' as a propaganda film. And true, it WAS made at the request of the British government, which allowed Griffith access to the front lines in France. And it's true, the Germans are portrayed as animals, but that's no different from the heavies in other Griffith melodramas.

Also, from what I've read, good and complete prints of the film have been hard to come by. (The version we used, which seemed to be complete, was a transfer of a 16mm print to DVD by Grapevine Video of Phoenix, Ariz.)

But now, a full century after its release, maybe it's time to reassess 'Hearts of the World.' Maybe it's time to move beyond the textbooks (which largely ignore 'Hearts' anyway) and give it credit for being a prime example of Griffith during his peak as an influential director.

I'd never encountered it before. And at yesterday's screening, I asked for a show of hands from those who'd already seen it. Not one!

So to our fresh eyes, the film was able to make a very strong impression. Griffith's knowledge of how to structure a story and manipulate the collective emotions of an audience was very much in evidence.

Also, it was another example of how difficult it is to know how a silent film will play unless you screen it the way it was intended to be shown: in a theater, on a big screen, with live music, and with an audience.

The British connection: D.W. Griffith greeted by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

So, rediscovery? Well, not solely on the basis of one very successful screening in a small theater in rural New Hampshire, even though quite a few people came up to afterwards to say how much they enjoyed the experience.

But I have to say, I would say 'Hearts of the World' holds its own against any of the other big Griffith blockbusters of the era. It has all the ingredients in place to pull along an audience with an inevitability not unlike the ice floe in 'Way Down East' that carries Lillian Gish to the waterfall.

If you get a chance to see it in a theater, do so! Just make sure the disc gets checked before the show.

This is my final post of 2018, so let me extend thanks to all whom I've encountered this year in the ongoing adventure of creating live music for screenings of silent films.

Looking forward to a 2019 filled with further discoveries as I continue collaborating with people both dead and alive. (Cue the joke about sometimes not being to tell the difference. Har!)

Even as we move further in time from the era when cinema did not include a recorded soundtrack or dialogue, interest in the films from that time continues to persist, and even seems to be growing.

So thank you to all who play a role in supporting and enjoying the art of silent film with live music.

See you next year!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ending 2018 with 'Hearts of the World,'
D.W. Griffith's rarely screened WWI drama

Propoganda or good old-fashioned melodrama? Or both? You decide!

Back online after several weeks of radio silence. The holidays, you know? And lots of other non-musical things going on.

I'll be back at the keyboard in late January with a performing schedule that includes silent film screenings in Topeka, London, and possibly Berlin, Germany.

But I do have one end-of-the-year gig coming up this weekend: it's D.W. Griffith's 'Hearts of the World' (1918), a rarely screened drama that I'm accompanying on Sunday, Dec. 30 at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Theatre in beautiful downtown Wilton, N.H.

I'm curious about this film, which I've never worked with before. It's right from the middle of Griffith's most period of work: before it came 'Birth of a Nation' (1915) and 'Intolerance' (1916); after it came 'Broken Blossoms' (1919) and 'Way Down East' (1920).

So what about 'Hearts of the World?' Why is it so little known? Why is it so little shown? (I sound like Dr. Seuss!)

I gather a major reason is that it's viewed as a "propaganda" film. And it's true—Griffith made the movie at the invitation of the British government, and it portrays Germans (the enemy!) in the worst possible light.

But I have this theory about Griffith that makes me curious about 'Hearts of the World.'

Griffith is regarded as a cinematic pioneer, and rightly so. Bringing length and depth to the American motion picture, his best films (including those above) caused tremendous excitement. More than anyone, he opened people's eyes to the possibilities of this new art form.

D.W. Griffith on set with child, hat, and megaphone.

But too often, the emphasis is on Griffith's technical achievements: his editing, his camera placement, and so on.

These are important, but I don't think they're the major reason for Griffith's impact.

What really mattered with Griffith was his ability to construct a story to hook an audience early, and then never let go.

That was Griffith's genius. You HAD to see what happened next. That's what sold tickets. More than anything else, that's what made his films so influential.

And I've seen it happen again and again. A creaky old melodrama like 'Way Down East' seems almost laughable when viewed alone.

But put it in front of an audience (which is how it was intended to be shown) and add music, and even today it snaps back to life.

People are on the edge of their seats as the story carries them along with the same inevitability of the ice floe carrying Lillian Gish to the waterfall.

Because of his prior experience directing melodrama in small town theatres, Griffith knew in his bones how to grab and audience and keep its attention.

And he had to, because if he didn't, people would throw things, or worse. Story-telling mattered.

That talent to hook an audience is a major part of what Griffith brought to the motion picture, and so I'm curious how it applies to 'Hearts of the World.'

Despite its reputation as a propaganda piece, will the story grab us and carry us along? Will the classic Griffith touch be in evidence?

There's only one way to find out, and that's to do what's rarely done: run the picture with live music in theater with an audience.

And that's where you come in. Join us for a screening of 'Hearts of the World' on Sunday, Dec. 30 at the Town Hall Theatre in Wilton, N.H.

More details in the press release below.

And Happy New Year!

* * *

A scene from D.W. Griffith's 'Hearts of the World' (1918).

MONDAY, DEC. 10, 2018 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jeffrapsis@gmail.com

Rarely screened D.W. Griffith drama to run Sunday, Dec. 30 at Town Hall Theatre


'Hearts of the World' (1918), starring Lillian and Dorothy Gish and with scenes filmed on live battlefields, to be presented with live music

WILTON, N.H.—A century-old war drama with scenes shot on location in the actual trenches of World War I is coming to the Town Hall Theatre.

'Hearts of the World' (1918), directed by D.W. Griffith for the British government, will be shown on Sunday, Dec. 30 at 4:30 p.m.

The program will be accompanied by live music performed by silent film composer Jeff Rapsis. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5 per person to help defray expenses.

'Hearts of the World' stars Lillian and Dorothy Gish, sisters who were among the most popular screen actresses of the era.

The film is also noteworthy due to its ties to Britain's World War I effort.

In an effort to change the American public's neutral stance regarding the war, in 1916 the British government contacted Griffith due to his stature and reputation for dramatic filmmaking.

Griffith and several members of his company traveled from Hollywood to Europe, where the war had been raging for three years, to film 'Hearts of the World' on location in England and France.

Set in France, 'Hearts of the World' tells the story of a young American man, Douglas Gordon Hamilton (Robert Harron), who lives in a rural French community and is love with local woman Marie Stephenson (Lillian Gish).

But their romance is interrupted when World War I dawns, and Douglas decides to join up with the French Army.

The Germans then mercilessly bomb and infiltrate Marie's village, and Douglas is injured in battle. As lecherous German soldiers close in on Marie, a recovering Douglas plans a daring rescue.

The early scenes are stolen by Dorothy Gish as "The Little Disturber," a mademoiselle of questionable morals who wreaks comic havoc with the allied troops.

Dorothy Gish steals a scene in 'Hearts of the World' (1918).

The film, Griffith's third feature-length film after 'Birth of a Nation' (1915) and 'Intolerance' (1916), deliberately portrays Germans as cruel and viscious war-mongers.

According to his biographer, Griffith's idea for the story came from reading a December 1915 account of French families driven from their homes by the war.

He began formulating an idea for a movie soon after, working on it in the evenings after the daytime filming of 'Intolerance.'

Once in England, Griffith made the rounds, meeting with members of the British War Office and conferring with famous writers such as H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw, who supposedly agreed that his best contribution to the war might be "a drama of humanity photographed in the battle area."

To make 'Hearts of the World,' The British Government gave D.W. Griffith unprecedented access to locations that were otherwise restricted from journalists.

Exterior shots were largely filmed throughout England from May to October 1917. Griffith made two trips to France where he filmed footage of the trenches.

In one instance, Griffith and his film crew were forced to take cover when their location came under German artillery fire; he escaped unscathed.

The film company then returned to Los Angeles, where British and Canadian troops recreated battle scenes and other interior scenes on a stage. The scenes shot in Europe and Los Angeles were edited together with footage from stock newsreels.

On April 6, 1917, events overtook 'Hearts of the World' when the U.S. entered the war while the picture was still in production.

The completed film was released in March 1918, where it found box office success until the war ended with the Armistice of Nov. 11, 2018.

After that, the public appetite for war films fell off drastically, ending the run of 'Hearts of the World.'

In reviving 'Hearts of the World,' the Town Hall Theatre aims to show silent movies as they were meant to be seen—in high quality prints, on a large screen, with live music, and with an audience.

"All those elements are important parts of the silent film experience," said Jeff Rapsis, who will improvise a musical score during the screening.

"Recreate those conditions, and the classics of early cinema leap back to life. They all featured great stories with compelling characters and universal appeal, so it's no surprise that they hold up and we still respond to them."

Rapsis performs on a digital synthesizer that reproduces the texture of the full orchestra and creates a traditional "movie score" sound.

Upcoming programs in the Town Hall's silent film series include:

• Sunday, Jan. 27, 4:30 p.m.: 'The Last of the Mohicans' (1922). The original big-screen adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's tale about colonial settlers among the Native Americans during the French and Indian War.

• Sunday, Feb. 10, 4:30 p.m.: 'The Eagle' (1925). Rudolph Valentino's comeback film is a rousing romp set in Imperial Russia. See the silent screen idol as a soldier who catches the eye of the Czarina, only to desert his platoon when trouble brews back home.

‘Hearts of the World' will be shown on Sunday, Dec. 30 at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., Wilton, N.H. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5 person to defray expenses.

For more information, visit www.wiltontownhalltheatre.com.