A bachelor faces financial ruin after losing a fortune in a bad business deal, but fortunately, he stands to inherit seven million dollars if he's married by 7:00p.m. on his 27th birthday. Unfortunately, he's received this great news on his 27th birthday, leaving him little time to act. When the love of his life turns him down, his business partner places an ad in the paper, and an army of would-be brides show up at the church!
Many may remember this plot belonging to the 1999 film, "The Bachelor" starring Chris O'Donnell and Rene Zellweger, but the first version was actually "Seven Chances" in 1925 directed by and starring Buster Keaton. Originally, it was a 1916 Broadway hit written by Roi Cooper Megrue and produced by David Belasco.
On Saturday, September 8 at 8:00p.m., East Lynne Theater Company and The Cape May Film Society are proud to bring this Buster Keaton classic to The First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes St., Cape May, where ELTC is in residence.
The organist accompanying this silent classic comedy is Wayne Zimmerman, who recently accompanied "The Mark of Zorro" as part of ELTC's and The Film Society's Silent Film Series. He has performed on note-worthy pipe organs, including the Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia, and regularly accompanies films at the Loew's Theater in Jersey City. Although there is usually someone credited in silent films as having written the music, Wayne creates his own score for every feature. He plays his scores from memory, never taking a break during the performance. It is rare nowadays that film lovers have the opportunity to see silent films as they were meant to be shown, with live music.
Buster Keaton is considered one of the greatest comedians of all time, possessing the unique combination of acrobatic skills with psychological insight into his characters. Born in 1895 as Joseph Francis Keaton, he got the name "Buster" when he fell down a flight of stairs, unhurt, at six months old. Harry Houdini picked him up, stating that the kid could really take a "buster" or fall. By age three, he was part of his parent's vaudeville act where he was knocked down and thrown through windows – just the training needed to prepare him for the fast-paced slapstick comedy of silent films. In 1966, after filming "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," Keaton died. He had worked with everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Samuel Beckett, Cecil B. DeMille to Tony Randall. Today, Keaton's films are just as funny, touching, and relevant as ever.
Roi Cooper Megrue (1883-1927) had several of his Broadway successes turned into films, including "It Pays to Advertise" that he co-wrote with Walter C. Hackett in 1914. This screwball comedy was twice made into a movie: a silent in 1919, and in 1931 with Carole Lombard. The premise – and promise – that anything can be sold is at the core of this still relevant farce, but it also examines the very nature and romance of advertising. ELTC is producing "It Pays to Advertise," with a cast of nine, from September 19 – October 13.
Megrue directed and co-produced Jesse Lynch Williams' "Why Marry?" in 1917; the first play to win the Pulitzer Prize. ELTC produced "Why Marry?" in 2006, bringing it back in 2007 due to its popularity. ELTC’s production was the first time this comedy had been produced in eighty years.
Tickets for "Seven Chances" are only $15 and reservations may be made by calling ELTC at 609-884-5898 or online at www.eastlynnetheater.org. The next silent classic is the 1922 cult hit, "Nosferatu," the first "Dracula" film, on Sunday, October 14 at 8:00p.m.
Meanwhile, there are only a few more times to see "The Poe Mysteries." It runs Wednesday through Saturday at 8:30p.m. through September 1 only in Cape May. In October, it moves to Ocean Professional Theatre Company in Barnegat, NJ.