Oct. 27 | Why Our Wurlitzer?

10.27headerphoto


Being the only theater organ in Maryland still in its original installation, one of our most asked-about features is consistently our mighty Wurlitzer organ. Purchased and installed in 1926, it has accompanied hundreds if not thousands of memorable performances at our historic theater! With our first Wurlitzer-accompanied silent film for the season screening on Halloween, we figured it’d be a great time to sit down with Weinberg house organist Michael Britt to get an insight into what’s so special about the heart of our theater’s silent film performances.

10.27fastfactsBased on our research, it seems like mastering the organ is quite the feat! It really sounds like you have a genuine passion for playing the instrument. What’s your story for discovering this passion of yours?

I come from a family of musicians—my mother’s family is compiled of organists, so I’d say I’m fortunate in that way. Other than my background in organ performance, there’s a lot of learning by listening. It definitely takes a lot of multitasking in order to be an organist—you have to look at the film while creating the score spontaneously. Most of the silent films in the ’20s, there was no music given! Queue sheets of scenes may be given, but that was it. Nowadays, that still is the case; however, sometimes we have the privilege of being able to watch the film before the screening.

Ray Brubacher was previously the house organist for the Weinberg and from what we understand, Ray played a part in your journey as a musician. Was there any bit of advice he gave you in his time as an organist that’s really stuck with you through the years?

I think one of the most important lessons Ray taught me wasn’t with his words, but with his performance. Watching Ray as house organist at the Tivoli and Weinberg taught me that the film is always the most important part—the music is the voice and soul of the story. What I mean by that is, you never want the audience to pay more attention to your music performance than to the screen.

What’s your favorite part about playing the organ?

I just love the instrument! I love the organ—it’s a living, breathing instrument that has incredible versatility. You know, that’s why it was chosen to accompany films. Back in the day, organs were as common as popcorn machines… they could create any and every sound imaginable to compliment what’s happening on the screen. Now imagine being the orchestrator of that! It never gets old—I’m always reassessing my performances, and never play the same song twice, because they’re all live performances.

Is there something special about the Weinberg Wurlitzer?

Well the first time I ever heard an organ performance in a movie theater was at the Tivoli. I think what’s so special about the Tivoli/Weinberg organ is how well kept and original it actually is, especially in comparison to others. In a time when most people didn’t, Mr. Weinberg had the foresight to restore and preserve the organ, even through hard times such as the flood in the early ’70s. That organ at the Weinberg has great history and it’s really special to hear something playing in its longtime home.

What’s your fondest memory performing at the Weinberg?

After Ray passed, I played at his funeral at the Weinberg, which was very hard. The organ came up out of the floor for the performance and to be honest, I don’t even remember playing. What I remember is how important it was to me… filling the shoes of someone I honored so deeply. I take performing at the Weinberg, and being an organist in general, very seriously. I love being able to look out at the audience during a film I’m performing for and seeing people having a good time! You can see the genuine excitement on their faces when the music begins.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I just really look forward to continuing my performances at the Weinberg.  There’s something special about experiencing a different live organ performance every time and, like I said, it’s great to see such a diverse group of people getting excited about the music. I think what will always remain important is to continue introducing new audiences to the uniqueness of the instrument—so that ultimately, that special performance continues to be preserved.

Want to see Britt & the Wurlitzer live in action? Feel free to stop by our silent film series calendar for a list of all the upcoming screenings at our theater. And if you’re looking to learn more about the Weinberg Wurlitzer’s rich history, we’ve got you covered! Check out the short film below created by our friends over at Digital Bard that features loved & missed Ray Brubacher, who was house organist for the Weinberg Center for numerous years before passing away in February 2014.


Oct. 25 | What it Takes to Clean a 90-Year-Old Theater Chandelier


Have you ever sat back and wondered what it takes to clean one of the 90-year-old chandeliers hanging from the ceiling in our theater? No? Well, a few weeks ago we got to actually witness the meticulous process and we have to admit— we were pretty impressed with just how much it entails! We chatted with our Technical Manager Greg Davis to find out more, and it’s no wonder why it takes such thorough care.

Every 8 months, it’s a two-person job to clean the theater
chandeliers.

First thing, we climb up the ladder and disconnect the electricity to the chandeliers in the attic. Starting with one chandelier, we raise the entire lighting fixture by a half-inch, then pull a safety pin out that it rests on when it’s in place up there.

At this point, we disconnect the safety cable and begin lowering it—but only about a foot lower. We then have to pass the safety cable and the electrics down through the fixture’s hole in the ceiling. At this point, we start the process of lowering it into the theater the rest of the way.

This is where it becomes so pivotal for the task to require two individuals—in the past, the chandeliers would just be set down until there was visible movement—meaning, the chandelier began brushing the seats and/or ground underneath it.

Unfortunately, this inevitably resulted in glass cracking and needing to be replaced. We learned our lesson, and now require one person up top to lower the chandelier and one person below to spot it so it doesn’t actually land on a seat!

The process of safely lowering the chandelier takes roughly 15-20 minutes—and I emphasize safely, as the chandelier is at its most dangerous point when it’s unattached to the safety pin and in movement. Once it’s safely lowered, we dive into aWeinberg Chandelierction, diligently cleaning the glass globe portion of the fixture; vacuuming and dry dusting the plaster and wood portions; and replacing the forty-four lightbulbs.

Before its ascent back to the ceiling, the final check requires testing all of the new bulbs to ensure they’re properly working. Once in the clear, the chandelier can begin its journey again, this time taking 30-40 minutes due to the gravitational fight with the original hand cranks.

At this point, I wipe my brow and we repeat the process an additional three times as we work our way through each chandelier hanging in the theater. Although the process is meticulous and can take a large part of the work day to fully complete, it really is all worth it when you’re back on the ground and can admire the extra shine each chandelier brings to the room!

So next time you’re enjoying a show with us and happen to glance up at the theater ceiling, we hope you feel the same bit of wonderment that we do, knowing all the love and attention that goes into keeping even the light fixtures looking timeless. See you at the theater!

 

Oct. 20 | 5 Tips for Rapunzel Auditions

In anticipation of our upcoming auditions for Missoula Children’s Theater production of Rapunzel – a unique one-week musical production right here in Frederick – we started reflecting on the amount of work that goes into auditioning for a show… and it’s impressive! After consulting with a few of our theater friends, we devised this list of 10 quick tips for aspiring actors that will hopefully help you nail that next audition

1. Set a realistic time for yourself to get to the audition.

There’s nothing worse than feeling rushed when you may already be experiencing nervous butterflies. Ensure you give yourself plenty of breathing room to arrive early, and be prepared to stay the full time allotted for auditions.

2. No preparation is needed.

Rapunzel is a unique production that will audition, rehearse, and perform a full-length production in under a week! You won’t need to prepare for these auditions, just come ready to have fun.

3. Bring a friend!

Don’t be afraid to ask someone to tag along and audition—bringing a friend can help you calm each other’s nerves and have fun together!

4. Know you’ll make mistakes.

Repeat after me: IT’S OKAY. Just don’t forget to remember that with every mistake, we’re given an opportunity to learn something new and improve our next shot.

5. Smile!

You wouldn’t believe how influential it can be just to have a good attitude and appear genuinely happy to be where you are. It’s easy for anyone to let nervous jitters affect our outward appearance, so remember what inspired you to even be at the audition in the first place and smile big!

And there you have it! Now are you looking for a way to test out these tips? Children ages 6-18 are encourages to come show off their skills at auditions for Missoula Children’s Theatre production of Rapunzel at 3:30pm on Monday, October 24 at our theater.

Oct. 18 | Halloween Happenings in Downtown Frederick


Can’t get enough of the Halloween festivities? Us either. That’s why we put on our scarves and jackets and trekked the streets of downtown Frederick in search of upcoming thrills. We just love all the fun happening right outside our door – not to mention the festivities on our stage! Take a peek at the ghoul-y list we gathered:

Halloween Movie Duo on Carroll Creek

Friday, October 21 | 6:00pm – 10:00pm | 47 E All Saints St, Frederick, MD 21701
Join the movie night at the Carroll Creek Amphitheatre with a double Halloween feature of Hocus Pocus & Beetlejuice.

Trick-or-Treating Downtown

Saturday, October 29 | 10:00am – 12:00pm | Downtown Frederick
50+ downtown shops and restaurants, including our Weinberg team, will be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. Costumes are encouraged!

Frederick City’s Farmer’s Market

Sunday, October 30 | 9:00am – 1:00pm | 331 N Market St, Frederick, MD 21701
Pick a pumpkin to carve or get a yummy fall treat at the local downtown farmer’s market.

Halloween-Themed Paint Session at The Dancing Bear

Monday, October 31 | 11:00am – 11:30am | 15 E Patrick St, Frederick, MD 21701
Bring the kids to Halloween-themed painting fun with Dancing Bear’s Pint-sized Picassos event.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Silent Film Screening

Monday, October 31 | 2:30pm & 7:00pm | 20 W Patrick St, Frederick, MD 21701
Experience a silent movie screening of the 1920’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde right here at the Weinberg, accompanied by spooky tunes from our mighty Wurlitzer organ. A costume contest will be held prior to the evening screening!

Happy Halloween!

Oct. 13 | Why Join the Weinberg Family?

There are hundreds of passionate and loyal arts advocates supporting the Weinberg Center, and today, we want to take a moment to share how meaningful even the smallest gesture of support can be. Let’s dive in to five ways you unknowingly impact the jewel of Frederick as a Weinberg member:

1 | A mere 45 cents covers the cost of one chandelier lightbulb.

That means after a year at a Producer level membership, your contribution can help replace every single light bulb in the theater!

2 | For every dollar spent at the Weinberg, roughly $7 is generated for the city (think shopping, restaurants, parking, and more).

When you help keep the Weinberg Center a thriving part of the community, you play part in a positive ripple effect on the downtown Frederick economy!

3 | With only $6 – just a fraction of a Patron level membership – you make it possible for a local student to attend our smARTS series.

That means you’re responsible for having a lasting impact on children of all ages by introducing them to live theater.

4 | You become a part of beloved Frederick traditions that span decades.

When you join the Weinberg family, you not only become part of traditions such as Weinberg Winterfest and Tuba Christmas, but also new traditions like our annual member receptions.

5 | As an avid supporter and repeat patron, members become ambassadors for a cherished piece of Frederick history — YOU help spread the word about what we do!

In all these ways and countless more, your membership helps keep the arts affordable and accessible to our community; and for that, we’re grateful for you today and every day.

Not yet a member? Just a few dollars can score you great benefits like early access to tickets. Learn more about how you can join the Weinberg family!

 

Oct. 11 | 5 Fast Facts about William Shatner


In anticipation of William Shatner taking our stage tomorrow night, our friends over at The Frederick News-Post chatted with him about everything ranging from his career to his personal life. And we figured, what better way to get in the “Shatner spirit” than learning five random facts about our very own Captain Kirk?

Fact 1: The genesis of Shatner’s World is powerful, yet simple: Say “yes” to life.

As he mentioned in his News-Post interview, William Shatner truly believes in the concept of embracing life. As he states, one of the most important things in life is “saying yes to experience… whether it’s the hysteria of laughter, to the abject of pathos. Celebrate it.”

Fact 2: The CEO of an airplane manufacturing company let Shatner borrow an airplane for a few days. No strings attached.

All because he grew up watching Star Trek as a young boy, Steve Ridolfi (CEO of the airplane company Bombardier) became determined to become an aeronautical engineer. When he heard Shatner needed help organizing transportation for a documentary, he didn’t hesitate to offer his childhood role model a helping hand.

Fact 3: He’s not afraid to talk about his highest highs and lowest lows.

In true Shatner fashion, “Bill” is unapologetically himself. In his one-man show Shatner’s World, the entertainment icon will dive into all aspects of his personal life and career without a second thought.

Fact 4: He just wrote a book.

In addition to his best-seller “Leonard,” Shatner just recently debuted “Zero-G,” a sci-fi novel that offers a peak at what the FBI could be doing in space 50 years from now. We’re hoping there’s mention of it tomorrow night!

Fact 5: The most meaningful part of his entire career is performing like he will be tomorrow night—on stage, just talking about life.

Although he’s dipped his toe in several areas of the entertainment industry, his one-man show Shatner’s World is where Shatner says he’s found true passion and connection. We can’t wait to see it live ourselves!

Get a chance to boast how well you really know Shatner at his show with us tomorrow night at 7:30pm. See you at the theater!

Quote by William Shatner in recent Frederick News-Post interview regarding his upcoming performance at the Weinberg Center.

Oct. 6 | The Tivoli Discovery Series Story


Tonight, our Tivoli Discovery Series officially kicks off with Girls Guns and Glory. In anticipation for the show, we sat down for story time with our Executive Theater Manager John Healey to hear how the pay-what-you-want series came to be.

The pay-what-you-want Tivoli Discovery Series came to fruition due to a “failure” in programming. In November 2012, I booked a show called Acoustic Africa that I thought was important to bring to Frederick. Apparently Frederick did not agree with my thought process, as the show had only sold about 150 tickets a week before it was scheduled, and was looking like a major financial loss.

After talking over the situation with the agent, I decided to move forward with the show and open the doors as a pay-what-you-want event. Marketing sent an email blast and I wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Frederick News-Post describing what the theater planned to do, hoping it would be published. The editor of FNP not only ran the letter, but turned it into a full-page ad that ran on the back cover of the paper several times leading up to the event.

772 people attended that show and were rewarded with an amazing performance. Yes, we still lost money on the show, but the public response was so positive that the pay-what-you-want concept became the foundation of the Tivoli Discovery Series, which now encourages people to take a chance on emerging artists.

Years later, the artists showcased in our Tivoli Discovery Series continue to gain attention —and for good reason! This season in particular is full of “hidden gem” artists, such as Vocal powerhouse Liz Vice and stunning classical ensemble Zorá String Quartet. Don’t miss the chance to discover your new favorite artists on the following dates:

Girls Guns and Glory | October 6 at 7:30pm
A toe-tapping, knee-slapping, rockin’ good time with an up-and-coming Americana quartet.

EVA | November 3 at 7:30pm
Powerful vocal harmonies anchored on the textured landscape of guitar, piano, and percussion.

Liz Vice | February 2 at 7:30pm
Gospel, soul, and R&B infused with a love of storytelling and a timeless sensibility.

Matt Andersen | March 2 at 7:30pm
An emerging musical powerhouse deftly explores both the personal and political through song.

The Quebe Sisters | April 6 at 7:30pm
Authentic Americana built on sibling harmony and sweet Texas fiddling.

Zorá String Quartet | May 4 at 7:30pm
“The perfect ensemble…so polished, so breathtakingly well-blended” (Calgary Herald).

See you at the theater!

Oct. 4 | Top 5 Happenings This October


Mornings are crisp, days are breezy, and “pumpkin spice” anything is available everywhere. Fall is here to stay! Looking at the lineup, there really seems to be something for everyone at the Weinberg Center this October. As promised, we’re here to keep you in-the-know on the top five happenings on our stage this month.

1 | Experience the first pay-what-you-want performance of the season with Girls Guns and Glory

Rising Americana group Girls Guns and Glory is quickly taking the music industry by storm, having already been dubbed a “don’t-miss night of alternative country” by The Washington Post. And getting to experience it all for a pay-what-you-want price? Yes, please. October 6 at 7:30pm

2 | Meet William Shatner face-to-face

In mid-October, Shatner will take the stage in his direct-from-Broadway one-man show exploring his life and career. But here’s what makes his Frederick appearance even better: after the fact, meet-and-greets are available for audience members to purchase and be able to actually meet Captain Kirk in personOctober 12 at 7:30pm

3 | Sweet Plantain infuses classical rhythms with new life

Classical and international music fans, this one’s been picked just for you. Hip hop? Jazz improv? Latin rhythms? Believe it or not, chamber ensemble Sweet Plantain’s sound embodies it all in a fusion with Western classical traditions. We’re looking forward to watching this string quartet perform live on our stage! October 14 at 8:00pm

4 | Trick-or-treating downtown

Okay, so it’s not happening on our stage… but we’re too excited not to mention it! On the Saturday before Halloween, we’ll be joining a group of 50+ downtown shops and restaurants once more in handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. Dress up as something spooky, magical, or even just plain weird and join us in celebrating the festive weekend fun! October 29 at 12:00pm

5 | Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde costume contest

If you think your costume this year is competition-worthy… prove it. This year, anyone up for the challenge will be given the opportunity to compete in our costume contest! To top it off, afterwards everybody wins with a 7:00pm silent film screening of the iconic horror film Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde. And of course, the haunting tones of our mighty Wurlitzer organ will accompany the entire film. October 31 at 6:15pm

Honorable mentions go to the rest of our rockin’ October line-up:

David Sedaris, Odd Squad—LIVE!, Cirque Mechanics: Pedal Punk, Flying Dog Film Series Tommy Boy, Classic Albums Live: Dark Side of the Moon, and Rapunzel.