East Lynne Theater Company presents “The Cat and the Canary”

Annabelle West can only inherit her Uncle Cyrus’s fortune if she is proved to be of sound mind. When she spends the night in her relative’s old mansion overlooking the Hudson River, she begins to fear for her sanity. Is it because of the ghost of Cyrus West – or something else?

For one night only, Sunday, October 20 at 8:00p.m., East Lynne Theater Company, in partnership with The Cape May Film Festival, presents the 1927 silent horror/comedy classic, “The Cat and the Canary,” with live organ accompaniment provided by Wayne Zimmerman. The location is The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May, 500 Hughes St., where ELTC is in residence. Tickets are $15 and ages 12 and under are free. For reservations and information, contact ELTC at 609-884-5898 or online at www.eastlynnetheater.org.

Based on John Willard’s popular 1922 Broadway play, the film stars Laura La Plante and was directed by German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni, who successfully blended horror with humor in what is considered the first successful “haunted house” film. This film is also the first of six adaptations of the play; the most notable being the 1939 film starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard.

Laura La Plante began her film career at age 15 in 1919, and by 1921 had played a number of roles. She was one of the leading stars at Universal who successfully made the transition from silent to sound, and played Magnolia in “Show Boat” in 1929. In 1930, she moved to England where she appeared in a few films, but when she returned to Hollywood in 1935, she retired from the movie industry.

Paul Leni was born in 1885 in Stuttgart, Germany, and was a stage designer for Max Reinhart and Leopold Jessner before going into film, where he made his mark as a director for gothic tales.

Providing his own original musical accompaniment is Wayne Zimmerman, marking his third year of playing for ELTC’s silent film series. He 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. Currently he is president of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society.

Meanwhile, the 1932 comedy by Pulitzer and Oscar-winning playwright Sidney Howard, “The Late Christopher Bean,” is in its final week, playing on the mainstage Thursday through Saturday at 8:00p.m., and Sunday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m.