Silent Film Benefit wows crowd

The Avalon Theatre was near capacity this past weekend for the Catalina Island Museum Silent Film Benefit’s screening of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. According to Dr. Michael De Marsche, Executive Director of the museum, “Our benefit is enjoying tremendous growth, with ticket sales up over 40% compared to just two years ago.”

The Avalon Theatre was near capacity this past weekend for the Catalina Island Museum Silent Film Benefit’s screening of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. According to Dr. Michael De Marsche, Executive Director of the museum, “Our benefit is enjoying tremendous growth, with ticket sales up over 40% compared to just two years ago.”

The excitement as the crowd exited the Avalon Theater after this year’s silent film performance, which was accompanied by a film score performed by a symphony orchestra, was palpable. The overwhelming sentiment was that the performance represented one of the best events ever to take place in Avalon.

“I can’t remember when I’ve had such an exciting time conducting a show,” Richard Kaufman, conductor of the benefit’s orchestra, commented.  “Having the opportunity to work with the terrific team at the Catalina Island Museum, and to perform in such an historic and acoustically amazing theater, along with the incredibly enthusiastic response from the audience, made the whole experience, in a word, thrilling!”  

“Wow! Never have I seen the Casino Theater filled with so many smiling faces,” said Jim Brown, member of the Catalina Island Museum Board of Trustees. “The all-around feeling of warmth when some 1,000 attendees were standing and wildly applauding the orchestra at the conclusion of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights was an amazing experience to behold. The quality of the music, which was seamlessly assembled by conductor Richard Kaufman with just one practice session, was simply outstanding.

“The film itself exhibited a wonderful mix of humor, friendship, love and poignancy all in one. This museum just plain rocks!”

“As I watched the movie, I had to remind myself that I was listening to a live orchestra, not an imbedded soundtrack,” remarked Joyce Brown, also a trustee of the museum.

“The synchronization of sound and motion was unbelievable. Hearing the laughter from a packed audience gave me goose bumps, and the standing ovation at the end said it all. Absolutely well done!”

A review on Trip Advisor read, “We totally enjoyed the Silent Film this weekend and the orchestra brought the movie to life!! I think we may make this trip an annual event! Thank you again for a wonderful and memorable afternoon!”

“We loved it,” said Mary and Dan Hirst, long-time museum members and Silent Film Benefit attendees. “The live music added so much excitement to it. We were pleasantly surprised that the film is as funny today as it was when it was released.”

“The success of this event reinforces our commitment to film and music,” stated Dr. De Marsche. “We will continue to build upon this success with our upcoming Fourth of July Music Festival and screening of A Hard Day’s Night with special guest Pattie Boyd.”

The Catalina Island Museum is Avalon’s sole institution devoted to art, culture and history.  

The museum, its digital theater and store are located on the ground floor of Avalon’s historic Casino and are open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414.

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