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Old Town Music Hall

Old Town Music Hall, Jessica Sample

Photo by Jessica Sample

Let us start with the Mighty Wurlitzer. The ancient wind-powered organ inside El Segundo’s little-known Old Town Music Hall has more than 2,500 pipes, four keyboards, 260 switches and a NASA-worthy console of controls and pedals. Oh, and that carnival of sound! Xylophone! Piano! Marimbas! Cymbals! Every movie showing begins with a concert, followed by an audience sing-along and a comedy short. Old-fashioned? Definitely. Entertaining? For every member of the family.

Originally built as the State Theater in 1921, the venue re-opened as Old Town Music Hall in 1968 after two musician friends, Bill Field and the late Bill Coffman, rescued the organ from a historic cinema house in Long Beach. Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and other silent stars have played the screen every weekend since. In 1995, the California Assembly declared Old Town Music Hall a living museum for silent film, classic talkies and old-time music.

Spending an evening out at a modern Cineplex might be fun, but there’s nothing quite like sitting down to watch Casablanca or King Kong in red velvet seats under twin chandeliers as a 10-horsepower Spencer Turbine Orgoblo pumps that gigantic soundtrack to life.

David Hochman, February 2015

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