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New Yorker Helps Oklahomans Travel Back To The 1920’s With Music Accompaniment For Silent Films

The air was still, and the musical score was ready to give people a glimpse of the entertainment of a hundred years ago.

Visitor Mary Frances Allen said: “I am very excited to hear this organ played and it will be a beautiful experience.”

Allen and others were filled with excitement to see the man behind the sound of silent movies in the theater.

Danny Dillon of the Coleman Theatre, said: “We are delighted to announce him as our organist and now welcome him, Dennis James.”

Dennis James said he learned to play the organ when he was only 14 years old, “It’s a dream come true.” He said his love of the instrument came from his teacher. “His show name was Melody Mack, his real name was Leonard McLean,” James said.

Based in New York, James travels the world bringing century-old instruments back to life, including the one at the Coleman Theater.

“It’s very rare that these are still in the theater, and it’s very rare nowadays that we have theaters, they’re tearing them down right and left,” James said of the century-old Wurlitzer organ and historic theater.

In the past, tens of thousands of Wurlitzer members could be found throughout the United States. Dennis said only 188 are still in existence, so he hopes to give his audience a chance to travel through time. “The great joy is to be able to preserve something, not like it’s a museum and not like the idea of ​​preserving it, but it’s real, it’s alive, people pay for a ticket, they come and see it, and it’s exactly the same way it was 100 years ago,” he says. .

As people watched, the century-old magic came back to life. “There were no words, no words,” Allen said. Other audience members discovered a new appreciation for this type of art. “It was great because I kept searching.” “On the organ and he wants to go and I just realized he’s not a part of it, he’s doing it live,” said Belen Hamm of Joplin, Missouri.

Dennis said he loves having the opportunity to play, especially when it takes him back to the roots of the instrument.

“These are the people I made these movies for, this is the kind of place, so there’s a kind of added authenticity to bringing this to Miami, Oklahoma, and that’s been keeping me coming back now for 19 years,” he said.

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