The Mount Baker Theatre has something exciting and alluring in store for film historians and aficionados.
Their Silent Film Series provides the all-too-rare opportunity to watch and experience classic silent films in their ornate, lavish theatre. But that’s not all – the screening of the Greta Garbo-starring Love (1927) will be accompanied by live music from organist Dennis James to provide a true nostalgic and historical feel.
We sat down to discuss this unique series with Mount Baker Theatre’s Deputy Director Kim Laskey, who also kindly provided photos of the gorgeous Theatre and the restored organ.
Washington Filmworks: Why does the Mount Baker Theatre feel it is important for audiences to have this experience, and what was the impetus behind the series?
Kim Laskey: For years the Mount Baker Theatre Organ Society (MBTOS) offered monthly free organ concerts. This organization, which was independent of the Mount Baker Theatre, dissolved a few years ago. Mount Baker Theatre felt the need to continue to maintain the organ and offer events to the local community to allow them to appreciate our restored Wurlitzer organ. The organ was digitized and the two manual console has been upgraded to a three manual console. This allows us to play all the devices in the pipe.
WF: What was the reaction to the first screening, My Best Girl? Did the organist accompany the screening?
KL: There was a very positive reaction to the first film and it appears that attendance will grow for the remaining films. The organist, Dennis James, performs live at the screening.
WF: He’s providing a live score for Love. What does his involvement add to the overall experience?
KL: His presence is integral to the show as he also provides anecdotal information about the films.
WF: What other uses does the organ get, and what is its history?
KL: With the end of MBTOS, the organ’s primary use is this film series. The organ was built when the theatre opened in 1927.
WF: What went into your decision making process when choosing the films for the series – why are they remarkable silent films?
KL: This year’s inaugural series films were chosen from our opening year.
WF: What kind of future do you envision for the Silent Film Series, and the Mount Baker Theatre in general?
KL: We anticipate continuing to offer a Silent Film Series in the years to come. We are going to continue to grow on the 377 events and nearly 108,000 attendees of our 13-14 season.
Take a look at the theatre’s beautiful interior, ready to host screenings of classic silent films!