Silent Film and Organ Concert Memorial Series

posted by bevford59 on October 13, 2009 at 10:40 am

MARION, OH — Sunday, October 25 at 3 p.m. the Palace’s mighty Wurlitzer organ fills the theatre as world renowned organist Dennis James accompanies the classic silent film “The Cat and the Canary.”

Patrons have the opportunity to step back in time and be entertained just as many were when the Palace Theatre first opened its doors in 1928.

Just in time for Halloween, this spooky film takes place at the old mansion of deceased millionaire Cyrus West. Exactly twenty years after his death, West’s will is being read and relatives from across the nation have been invited.

All are surprised to learn they must spend the evening in the eerie building before the fortune will be handed down to anyone. Adding to the suspense is a report that a madman has escaped the nearby asylum and is probably within the mansion.

Originally released in 1927, “The Cat and the Canary” is frightfully funny, mixing elements of suspense, horror, and comedy sure to entertain all ages.

Organist Dennis James returns to the Palace as he accompanies the film on the Wurlitzer organ. Since 1971, Dennis James has performed and accompanied silent films around the world. James has been called “a national treasure” and “the finest silent film accompanist playing the Wurlitzer theatre organ in the world today.”

Just last year James performed for the Palace’s 80th Anniversary Celebration and accompanied another silent film. Two packed houses found the experience to be laugh-out-loud funny as Dennis brought even more character to the movie.

“They were the biggest laughs I’ve ever heard for a movie here at the Palace,” says House Manager Daniel Bradshaw. “People from several generations were completely absorbed by the whole event.”

Patrons will have four opportunities in all to participate in the unique experience as additional silent films with organ accompaniment are on the schedule for November 15 (“The Cameraman” starring Buster Keaton), April 25 (“Easy Street” and “The Kid” starring Charlie Chaplin), and June 13 (“Girl Shy” starring Harold Lloyd). These films are being presented as the Yannitell Memorial Film Series. All performances are scheduled on Sundays and begin at 3 p.m.

Named for longtime Palace theatre organ expert Tom Yannitell, the series is a tribute to the many years Yannitell dedicated to the restoration and upkeep of the three-manual, ten-rank mighty Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ. Yannitell passed away in March 2009.

Retiring Executive Director Elaine Merchant stated, “This is a fitting tribute to Tom and his thousands of hours of volunteer work on this theatre’s pipe organ. He and Dennis were friends and shared a love for the Palace Wurlitzer.”

General Admission tickets to each concert in the silent film series are $8 for adults and $5 for students. All of these shows are currently available in the Palace box office, 276 W. Center St. in downtown Marion or by phone at 740/383-2101. Box office hours are 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.-noon Saturday, and closed Sunday. Patrons may also find information for all shows online at

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