Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tonight: Opening night at Leavitt Theatre
for 2017 summer silent film series

Buster scrubs up for opening night in 'Three Ages.'

Tonight's main attraction at the Leavitt Theatre is a film that came out the same year the Leavitt opened its doors.

The film: 'Three Ages' (1923), Buster Keaton's first foray into feature-length comedies.

And the Leavitt Theatre is a seasonal moviehouse that also debuted in 1923 and has remained virtually the same ever since.

The Leavitt Theatre: exterior.

Buster has stood the test of time, and so has the Leavitt: tonight marks the start of the venue's 94 consecutive season of bringing entertainment to summertime visitors to Ogunquit, Maine, a popular seaside resort.

In recent years, the theater has augmented its first-run movie schedule with classic films, special events, live performances, and more.

I'm honored to do music for the Leavitt's silent film series, which honors the building's roots as a moviehouse from the era when films were made without soundtracks.

Interesting fact about the Leavitt: a good portion of the wooden seats on its steeply raked floor are original to the building. Reach below, and you'll feel a thick gauge wire loop under each seat—that's so gentlemen can stow their hats!

The Leavitt Theatre: interior.

One change in the silent film series this season is that our starting time has moved up an hour, to 7 p.m.

That allows the theatre to schedule another event later in the evening, which is good for everyone.

To find out more about the Leavitt Theatre, visit them online at

And to find out more about this season's silent film series, check out the press release below!

* * *

For more info, contact: Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit to host summer silent film series with live music

Classic comedies, action-packed dramas highlight schedule; featured stars include W.C. Fields, Buster Keaton, and John Barrymore

OGUNQUIT, Maine—Classics of the silent film era will return to the big screen starting this month at Ogunquit's Leavitt Theatre, which will host a season of vintage cinema with live music in the historic facility.

The series gives area film fans a chance to see great movies from the pioneering days of cinema as they were intended to be shown—on the big screen, with an audience, and accompanied by live music.

Most screenings will be on Thursday evenings and will begin on Thursday, May 25 with a Buster Keaton double feature: 'Sherlock Jr.' (1924) followed by 'Three Ages' Showtime is 7 p.m.

The series runs through October, concluding with a Halloween screening of the early horror classic 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' (1920), to be shown on Saturday, Oct. 28.

Admission for each screening is $10 per person.

A total of eight programs will be offered in the series. Films will include comedies by Keaton and W.C. Fields as well as the original silent film version of 'The Wizard of Oz' (1925) and the first-ever vampire movie, 'Nosferatu' (1922).

"These are the films that first made people fall in love with the movies, and we're thrilled to present them again on the big screen," said Peter Clayton, the Leavitt's long-time owner.

The Leavitt, a summer-only moviehouse, opened in 1923 at the height of the silent film era, and has been showing movies to summertime visitors for nine decades.

The silent film series honors the theater's long service as a moviehouse that has entertained generations of Seacoast residents and visitors, in good times and in bad.

"These movies were intended to be shown in this kind of environment, and with live music and with an audience," Clayton said. "Put it all together, and you've got great entertainment that still has a lot of power to move people."

Live music for each program will be provided by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based performer and composer who specializes in scoring silent films.

In accompanying silent films live, Rapsis uses a digital synthesizer to recreate the texture of the full orchestra. He improvises the music in real time, as the movie is shown.

In scoring a movie, Rapsis creates music to help modern movie-goers accept silent film as a vital art form rather than something antiquated or obsolete.

"Silent film is a timeless art form that still has a unique emotional power, as the recent success of 'The Artist' has shown," Rapsis said.

Buster in the Roman Empire story in 'Three Ages.'

First up in the Leavitt's series is a double helping of Buster Keaton comedy on Thursday, May 25.

In 'Sherlock Jr.' (1924), Keaton plays a small-town movie projectionist who dreams of being a detective. In 'Three Ages' (1923), Keaton spoofs historical dramas by seeking true love in three differing epochs. Great physical comedy plus Buster's deadpan attitude will have you laughing out loud.

Other feature films in this year's series include:

Thursday, June 8: 'Running Wild' (1927) starring W.C. Fields. Long before he entertained movie audiences with his nasal twang, W.C. Fields was a popular leading man in silent film comedies! This one finds Fields as a hen-pecked husband finally driven to make surprising changes in his life.

Thursday, June 29: 'Daredevil Aviation Double Feature.' Join fellow flyboys and flygals for a double feature of vintage silent film featuring 1920s biplane action.

Thursday, July 13: 'The Wizard of Oz' (1925) starring Larry Semon. Early silent film version of Frank L. Baum's immortal tales features silent comedian Larry Semon in a slapstick romp that also casts Oliver Hardy as the Tin Man. Oz as you've never seen it before!

Thursday, Aug. 17: 'Sherlock Holmes' (1916) starring William Gillette. Recently discovered in France after being lost for nearly a century, see this original 1916 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes stories as performed by William Gillette, the actor who created the role on stage.

Thursday, Aug. 24: 'Go West (1925) starring Buster Keaton. Buster's ranch comedy about the stone-faced comedian and his enduring romance with—a cow! Rustle up some belly laughs as Buster must prove himself worthy once again.

Thursday, Oct. 5: 'Nosferatu' (1922). Experience the original silent film adaptation of Bram Stoker's famous 'Dracula' story. Still scary after all these years—and some critics believe this version is not only the best ever done, but has actually become creepier with the passage of time.

Saturday, Oct. 28: 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' (1920) starring John Barrymore; Just in time for Halloween! John Barrymore plays both title roles in the original silent film adaptation of the classic novella by Robert Louis Stevenson. A performance that helped establish Barrymore as one of the silent era's top stars.

All programs are at 7 p.m. and admission is $10 per person.

A double bill of Buster Keaton comedies will lead off this season's silent film series on Thursday, May 25 at 7 p.m. at the Leavitt Fine Arts Theatre, 259 Main St. Route 1, Ogunquit, Maine; (207) 646-3123; admission is $10 per person, general seating. For more information, visit For more info on the music, visit

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