Capitol marks 90th anniversary Monday


Rome Capitol Theatre, 220 W. Dominick St., is planning a celebration to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the theater’s opening performance at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10.

The Capitol Theatre opened on Monday evening, Dec. 10, 1928 with a program including two Vitaphone talking short subjects, a “Capitol Greetings” filmed message which welcomed the public to the “grand new facility,” and the silent feature film Lilac Time, starring Colleen Moore and Gary Cooper.

The Dec. 10, 2018 show will begin at 6:30 p.m. with introductory and historical material, including messages from dignitaries.

At 7 p.m., the starting time for the inaugural show in 1928, the recreation of the opening night show will commence with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” followed by a “Capitol Greetings,” recreated from the text that was published in full in the Dec. 11, 1928 issue of the Rome Daily Sentinel, and two Vitaphone sound short subjects, Harry Wayman & His Debutantes, an “all-girl band” performing three popular songs of the era, and “The Night Court,” a comedy sketch with music starring William Demarest, which centers around a trial involving performers from a night club who are on trial for indecency.

The feature attraction will be the romantic aviation drama, “Lilac Time,” which stars popular leading lady Colleen Moore as a French peasant girl who falls in love with a British flying ace, Gary Cooper, during the turbulent time of World War I.

The silent feature will be accompanied live by Avery Tunningley on the theater’s 1928 Möller theater organ — the same organ that was played in the theater on opening night. Tunningley’s organ score is based on the movie’s original musical cue sheet, which indicates the pieces to employ in accompanying the film. The movie’s hit song, “Jeannine, I Dream of Lilac Time,” will be prominently featured in the score.

“The idea of this show is to allow attendees to essentially ‘go back in time’ and to experience what it was like to attend the opening night show at the Capitol Theatre in 1928,” Capitol Theatre Executive Director Art Pierce said.

“In as much as we have the original auditorium at our disposal, the theater’s original organ with an organist accompanying the opening night feature playing a 1928 score, plus the same sort of carbon-arc 35mm film projection that we offered in 1928, we feel that that this will be a very special, once-in-a-lifetime type experience.”

Pierce further noted that the Rome Capitol Theatre is the only 1920s movie palace in New York that has variable speed carbon-arc 35mm film projection and an original theater organ and, consequently, is the only theater in the state that is in a position to offer this sort of authentic recreation of a 20s movie show.

The 35mm film prints for the Vitaphone short will be on loan from the UCLA Film & Television Archive in Los Angeles, and the 35mm film print of Lilac Time will be loaned by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

In keeping with the spirit of 1928, the Capitol will charge the same prices that were charged opening night, 50 cents, 25 cents for children ages 12 and under. Tickets will be available at the door on the night of the show, in advance from the Capitol box office 315-337-6453, and online at

The program

6:30 p.m.: Introductory remarks and presentations

7 p.m.: “The Star-Spangled Banner”

7:05 p.m.: “Capitol Greetings”

7:09 p.m.: Vitaphone (sound) short subjects: (a.) “Harry Wayman & His Debutantes;” (b.) “The Night Court”

7:30 p.m.: Feature film: Lilac Time (First National Pictures), directed by George Fitzmaurice and starring Colleen Moore and Gary Cooper.

The entire program will end at about 9:10 p.m.


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