'Phantom' with a twist

Aaron Krause • Oct 29, 2015 at 11:57 AM

MANSFIELD - Rock, jazz, fusion, world music and....a silent film?

That's the combination a Cleveland quartet will use to present a unique showing of the 1925 film version of "Phantom of the Opera."

The screening is set for 8 p.m. Oct. 20 at Mansfield's Renaissance Theatre.

"Phantom" is one of several silent films the musical group "Rare Blend" accompanies with their original compositions. The others are the 1916 version of "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," "Metropolis" and "Maciste in Hell."

The 1925 "Phantom" might be a different film version, but the story remains the same: The majestic Paris Opera House towers above the catacombs, the long forgotten dungeons and Paris torture chambers.

Lon Chaney stars as the Phantom, a vengeful composer who hides his hideous, deformed face with a mask. His love of a young prima Donna leads to him abducting her and carrying her to his lair. A competing suitor tries to save her.

Bobbi Holt, the quartet's co-founder and keyboardist, said in the past theaters have employed instrumental music for silent film screen showings. But, the organist, pianist or full orchestra would play classical-style music.

Rare Blend features the drums, electric bass guitar, electric guitar and keyboards.

"We're just revitalizing the art form of accompaniment to silent film work, but we're doing it with our music, which is 21st-Century rock, jazz, fusion (and instrumental)," Holt said.

She said it is not the type of music one might expect to hear with a silent film. Still, Holt said she feels the notion of a silent film with such accompaniment will pique people's attention.

It already has: Holt said nice size audiences have attended past screenings, which were held in Cleveland-area libraries.

The Oct. 20 showing of "Phantom" will mark the first showing in a theater.

"I hope it will be a catalyst for more theater opportunities," Holt said. "We've received very positive feedback and we're very happy to bring this presentation to the Renaissance."

Why see silent films in this age of sound and technology?

"I think it gives (audience members) a sense of history and just a totally different experience," Holt said. IF YOU GO

WHAT: The 1925 silent film classic "Phantom of the Opera"

WHEN: 8 p.m. Oct. 20

WHERE: Renaissance Performing Arts Center, 138 Park Ave. West, Mansfield

HOW MUCH: $10 and $15. You can purchase tickets online or by calling the Renaissance Theatre box office at (419) 522-2726.

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