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October 10, 2013

Movie Night: Silent version of ‘Hunchback’ to be shown at spruced-up Cathedral

NEW CASTLE — Things are looking brighter at the Scottish Rite Cathedral.

Stage manager Robert McKibben recently spruced up the facility in preparation for two upcoming events. McKibben replaced 315 light bulbs, relamping the entire balcony. In addition to cleaning and painting the light fixtures, 40-watt bulbs were replaced with 100-watt bulbs. “It makes quite a difference,” he said.

McKibben also used a camel hair brush to clean the 36-by-20-foot silver screen, which is framed and weighs 950 pounds. McKibben estimates The Cathedral’s silver screen to be at least 50 years old.

The fourth in a series of silent film classics will be presented Oct. 25 with the showing of the 1923 version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” starring Lon Chaney Sr.

Show time will be at 7:30 p.m., box office opens at 6. All seats will be $12.

“The Phantom of the Opera,” also starring Chaney, was the first classic shown and was followed by “Nosferatu” and “Ben-Hur.”

Walt Strony will play the original film score on The Cathedral’s 66 rank Moller Organ.  Strony is one of America’s premier concert organists. He made his public debut in 1974 at the age of 18 and has established himself as one of few organists equally at home playing both theater and classical organ.

Strony has performed hundreds of concerts from coast to coast, as well as in Japan, Australia, England and Canada.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which also stars Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Nigel de Brulier and Brandon Hurst, was Universal Studio’s “jewel” of 1923 and was its most successful silent film, grossing more than $3 million.

The film is most notable for the grand sets that recall 15th century Paris as well as Chaney’s performance and spectacular make-up as the tortured bell-ringer of Notre Dame de Paris. The film elevated Chaney, already a well-known character actor, to star status in Hollywood, and helped set a standard for many later horror films, including Chaney’s “The Phantom of the Opera” in 1925.

All proceeds and donations go to restoring The Cathedral’s Moller organ. Since January, McKibben said, more than $30,000 has been spent in restoration of this one-of-a-kind instrument.

“This year, we have another matching grant of $10,000 from an anonymous donor so any donation would be appreciated,” he said.

On Nov. 22, The Cathedral, in conjunction with the Warner Film Center, will host a Gala Hollywood Party with dinner, dancing and a movie — “Casablanca.”

Call (724) 654-6683 for information or tickets for Oct. 25 and Nov. 22.

(Email: d_burcham@ncnewsonline.com)

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