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Big Bertha and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

I attended a screening of the original Universal 1925 silent classic THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at the historic Alabama Theatre in Birmingham this past weekend. I had never been before, and I must say, I was completely blown away. For one thing, I can’t imagine a finer venue in which to view the film.

The Alabama Theatre, built in 1927, is easily one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever been in. It was like going to a museum to watch a movie.

It was so easy to imagine the Phantom himself roaming about therein—and in fact he was!

So much more than simply watching a movie, this was an *experience*.

The Alabama Theatre possesses a huge, magnificent pipe organ nicknamed “Big Bertha,” original to the building and in fact installed while the building was being constructed. Composer Tom Helms (who knows how to make an entrance, being carried in inside a coffin!) was on hand to perform his original score for the film.

There was nothing electrical about the sound.

The Composer and the Phantom


Big Bertha did it all, filling the cavernous theater with music and even providing sound effects. You could feel the music vibrating through the floor beneath your feet. It was incredible.

There were numerous actors in costume, and some audience members dressed up as well.


I hear tell they do this every year around Halloween. Count me in forever!

TheCheezman • November 6, 2019


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