10 Facts You Should Know About Baycourt’s Mighty Wurlitzer & Steamboat Bill Jnr

Buster-Keaton-with-a-puppy-in-his-pocketNight Owl Cinema is bringing Buster Keaton to Baycourt Theatre to celebrate midwinter’s shortest day – Saturday 20 June 2015.

To accompany Buster’s Steamboat Bill Jnr, the mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ will corkscrew his way up from the depths of the orchestra pit. The organ’s 1920s lights will blaze. A distinguished gentleman that is Ron Clarke (imported from Auckland) will sit a top, pulling out stops and blowing whistles from this most majestic instrument that harks back to those original horror movies. The blood red velvets will part in the balconies and the floor to ceiling pipes will push enormous erotic sound into the auditorium.

Will you be there?

I will.

10 Other Important Facts You Should Know About Tauranga’s Mighty Wurlitzer:

1) There are only 3 Wurlitzer Organ’s in Aotearoa.

2) Auckland’s Hollywood Cinema and Paraparaumu’s Southward Car Museum house the other two Wurlitzer’s but rumour has it Tauranga’s is the best in the business – “in the best working condition.”

3) The Wurlitzer’s nickname is “Wurli”.

4) There are (now) no professional or concert level Kiwi Wurlitzer Organists NB: Ron Clarke is coming out of retirement to play for Steamboat Bill Jnr Saturday 20 June 2015 at Baycourt Theatre.

5) Baycourt hosts 3 shows a year featuring the Wurlitzer. Wurlitzer organists travel from places with ‘U’ in them, like Aussie, UK and USA. It’s been several years since “Wurli” accompanied a film.

6) The Mighty Wurlitzer slept in a former honey-packing shed south of Tokoroa before in 1959 the Tauranga 20,000 Club gifted it to Tauranga, where it sat in Tauranga’s former Town Hall, which stood where the current Library is.
NB: Before you start surmising there was an exotic secret club in our Bay, for people who could decandently donate 20,000 to a cause… Tauranga’s 20,000 Club aimed at increasing the population to the milestone figure needed to declare Tauranga a city – achieved on April 17, 1963.

7) My mother dressed me up in a freshly ironed home sewn dress, satin ribbons in my hair to attend the Baycourt Wurlitzer Premiere in 1988.

8) And now a question for you? When was the last time you watched a silent movie? Or when was the last time you heard that a silent movie was playing in a theatre near you?

9) Terry Creighton is the Keeper of the Organ. This is a prestigious position that only the Mayor can award with a highfalutin ceremony. I actually don’t know that the ceremony is grandiose I just wanted to use that word highfalutin – cos look at its cool spelling.

10) Tauranga has a Tauranga Theatre Organ Society where you can come and have a bash on the Wurli.

11) Just in case you felt ripped off that I snuck a question for you in at fact number 8…I saved the most thrilling fact for last. The International Youth Silent Film Festival is coming to little ol’ New Zealand and guess which City and which Wurli is going to welcome it with welcoming torsos, arms, hands, fingers and clipped fingernails? Tauranga. Baycourt’s Mighty Wurlitzer.

The rules for submitting a silent film (of your own making) for the competition are as such:
You must be 20 or under.

The genres you may choose from are:
Science Fiction.

Perhaps you need some film-making inspiration?

Come experience an illicit (speakeasy) bar and Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Jnr.

An IMBD ‘contributor’ leaves you with this:
For me, the experience of watching this move and some of Jackie Chan’s best (older) movies are identical.
The best way to describe it is amazing physical stunts with comedy fillers.

And a final challenge for you. There’s a infamous scene where a cable pulling down the entire front of a building is clearly visible, and reportedly even a ‘stage hand’ helps by giving the facade an extra nudge.

Can you detect where this moment is in the 1 hour long silent film starring the best stuntman the world has ever seen?

I love reading your comments, kia ora for taking the time to share your thoughts

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