In 1908, Gaston Leroux wrote about a disfigured man who terrorizes the Paris Opera House and falls in love with the young leading lady. Leroux was known for his cutting-edge horror stories, but if he were alive today, he would probably be amazed at all of the various adaptations of his Phantom of the Opera. His story has been made into six films, and two musicals: one by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the other by Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston. Leroux was impressed by the first film version, produced by Carl Laemmle, the head of Universal Pictures, in 1925, but didn’t live long enough to see any other incarnations.
The 1925 film stars Lon Chaney in the title role, with Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, and Gibson Gowland. Well-known reviewer Roger Ebert stated that “Phantom has “two elements of genius: It creates beneath the opera one of the most grotesque places in the cinema, and Chaney’s performance transforms an absurd character into a haunting one.”
Providing the live musical accompaniment for all these films is Wayne Zimmerman, who has been playing for ELTC's Silent Film presentations since 2011. Wayne has played in a variety of venues from coast-to-coast and in Hawaii, regaling audiences with his silent-film accompaniment and concerts. At varying times he’s served as organist at the Lansdowne Theatre in Lansdowne, PA, the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, PA, the Brookline Theatre in Havertown, PA, and the Merlin Theatre in suburban Philadelphia. Recently, he served as president of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society, and currently serves on the board. Past classics for ELTC include Wings, The Mark of Zorro, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu.