City of Colorado Springs / Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services / News

Silent Film Fridays: Charlie Chaplin double feature on March 7 at City Auditorium
Thursday, March 06, 2014

The film is silent. Not so, the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Colorado Springs, Colo – Silent Film Fridays continues its monthly presentation of film classics. This month’s screening features a pairing of Charlie Chaplin shorts, with a live “soundtrack” performed on the historic Mighty Wurlitzer on Friday, March 7 at 8pm at City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa Street in downtown Colorado Springs. Silent Film Fridays screenings continue monthly through May 2014.

Experience silent films how they used to be done. Back in the day, the “pre-talkies” screened with live musical accompaniment. Huge pipe organs replicated orchestral music and movie sound effects, all against the whir of the film and projector reels. Silent Film Fridays presents a series of film classics with live music performed on downtown’s historic Mighty Wurlitzer by the Pikes Peak Area Theater Organ Society.

Friday’s event presents a Charlie Chaplin double feature, with The Rink (1916) and Behind the Screen (1916). The movie “soundtrack” will be performed live by Pikes Peak Area Theater Organ Society board member Dave Weesner. A local architect, Weesner is one of just a handful of musicians statewide trained to accompany silent films on the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Now housed in the City Auditorium, the “Mighty Wurlitzer” was originally installed in 1927 in the Burns Opera House. When the Opera House was slated for demolition in 1973, members of the Pikes Peak Area Theater Organ Society spent thousands of hours to save the organ. After carefully dismantling and removing the organ, members then rebuilt it for installation in the City Auditorium in 1979.

Silent Film Fridays is presented as a partnership between Downtown Colorado Springs, the City of Colorado Springs City Auditorium, and the Pikes Peak Area Theater Organ Society. Support comes in part from Colorado Creative Industries, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Boettcher Foundation as part of downtown’s Creative District programming.

This month’s screening is timed to coincide with First Friday Downtown, which features free gallery openings, artist receptions, and performances from 5 to 8 p.m. at more than 20 venues on the first Friday of the month. Admission to Silent Film Fridays is a suggested donation of $5, with free admission for those 17 and under. Beer, wine, and popcorn will be available for purchase at the hour long event.