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Victorian Halloween event Saturday at M. C. Opera House

  • Victorian Halloween Magic-Lantern Show wll be held Saturday at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.
    Victorian Halloween Magic-Lantern Show wll be held Saturday at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.
Published October 19. 2009 05:00PM

JTAMS Productions presents the Victorian Big- Screen Extravaganza that led to the movies.

A recreated Halloween Magic-Lantern show live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House located at 14 W. Broadway in Jim Thorpe on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The Halloween Magic Lantern Show is a family show for adults and children ages six and older. There will be a matinee at 2:30 p.m. and an evening show at 7:30 p.m.

Get ready to travel back in time with a spooktacular Magic-Lantern Show.

A hundred years ago, everyone joined in the fun of watching these Magic-Lantern Shows on the big screen, clapping and stomping one minute, moved to tears the next.

Colors swirled, animated cartoons cavorted, ghost stories unfolded. And everyone joined in singing "The Worms Crawl in, The Worms Crawl Out" as a beautiful woman on screen dissolved into a skeleton. Young and old sat mesmerized, mouths agape.

The Magic-Lantern Show was, in fact, the great grandpa of the movies. A huge brass-and-mahogany projector lit with gas "limelight" rapidly projected hand-colored slides on the screen.

The slides, many of them animated, illustrated stories and songs and comedy, just as the movies would later.

A live showman and musician provided the soundtrack, and the audience joined in creating sound effects, playing horns and tambourines, chanting and clapping, booing and cheering, just as in a melodrama.

The content of the melodramatic early movies was often lifted from successful magic-lantern shows, and many of the earliest movie projectors were simply adapted magic-lantern projectors.

The re-created "Halloween Magic-Lantern Show" is produced by The American Magic-Lantern Theater, the nation's only theater company specializing in this popular form of Gay Nineties entertainment.

In the show, Little Orphan Annie tells how goblins "come ta git ya." Poe's famous raven drives a lover mad with its slow tap tapping. The audience tries to read its future in the swirling colors of the magician's crystal ball and animated cartoon monsters misbehave.

Terry Borton, lead showman of The American Magic-Lantern Theater, became interested in the magic-lantern because his great-grandfather had one, which was passed down in the family.

"When I was a child," says Borton, "my father put on shows for us, using the same slides and dramatic style that his grandfather had used two generations before, at the turn of the century. Some of those same slides are in our shows today, a hundred years later. And I hope that my style is just as dramatic and memorable as great-grandpa's was back then!"

Doors open for the afternoon event at 2 p.m. and show time is at 2:30 p.m. In the evening show, doors open at 6:30 p.m. and show time is at 7:30 p.m. To reserve tickets by phone, or for more information, call (570) 325-0249.

Tickets can also be conveniently purchased on-line at:

Parking in town is limited on any weekend. Parking is recommended downtown at the Carbon County municipal lot behind the train station.

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