Mighty Wurlitzer Extravaganza TO DISNEY, WITH LOVE Announced At El Capitan

By: Jan. 24, 2019
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Mighty Wurlitzer Extravaganza TO DISNEY, WITH LOVE Announced At El Capitan

The El Capitan Theatre puts a spotlight on its historic Mighty Wurlitzer Organ and its award winning house organist with a special concert by Rob Richards, TO DISNEY WITH LOVE, celebrating his twentieth anniversary as the El Capitan Theatre's house organist. Richards has played this spectacular instrument at the landmark Hollywood movie palace since its installation in 1999.

Through music, follow Rob's journey from a childhood Disney fan to fulfilling a true Hollywood dream as Tinseltown's iconic organist! Guests will be delighted by Disney classics and concert favorites played on the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. Plus, there will be special surprise guest artists!

"Join us as we celebrate the magic of Disney Music and Rob Richards' 20th El Capitan Anniversary," said Ed Collins, General Manager of The El Capitan Theatre. "His music and the classic and newest films of The Walt Disney Company have become synonymous with Hollywood Blvd. ever since his first performance at The El Capitan Theatre in 1999."

Tickets are $10 per person (VIP $20 including popcorn and 20 oz drink) are now on sale at www.elcapitantickets.com, by calling 1-800-DISNEY6 and at The El Capitan Theatre box office. Special D23 Member discount is available as well by calling 818-845-3110.

Also as part of the night, TO DISNEY WITH LOVE, making its return to the big screen - Walt Disney Animation Studios' GET A HORSE starring Mickey Mouse and accompanied by Richards at the the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ!

In addition to his 20th year at The El Capitan Theatre, Richards is also celebrating his 44th year of giving concerts. He has toured extensively across America, and has participated in six major international tours that have taken him to Japan, Australia, and England. Richards has also recorded numerous solo CDs, including "Now Playing" at the El Capitan, released in 2003.

In 2005, Richards was named "Organist of the Year" by the American Theatre Organ Society. Gus L. Franklin, president of the American Theatre Organ Society, said at that time, "His love of the theatre organ is contagious, and his willingness to share that with others, particularly young people, has enabled him to devote both himself and his time to demonstrating the wonders of this instrument and its music to them. As house organist at Disney's El Capitan Theatre, Rob's outstanding artistry is being experienced regularly by thousands of people and is enabling them to enjoy the wonderful music and sounds that only a theatre organ can produce."

The spectacular 4/37 Wurlitzer has four keyboards and 37 ranks of pipes, each of which represent different musical instruments. It was the last of five magnificent "Fox Specials" built in the 1920's, and is considered the top of the line in theater organs and was designed with all the "bells and whistles" for movie palaces. It was meticulously restored over a one-year period and installed by G.M. Buck Pipe Organs, Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Theatre organ experts Gordon Kibbee and Bill Schutz served as consultants on the project and wrote all the specifications.

Over 2500 pipes have been installed in four chambers - two in each side of the theatre. The largest pipe is over 32 feet long! The El Capitan's "Mighty Wurlitzer" was originally installed in 1929 at the World Famous San Francisco Fox Theatre and subsequently purchased by Frank Lanterman in 1963 for his home in La Canada. Since its installation, this marvelous instrument, the "Mightiest of Mighty Wurlitzers" which was dormant for so long, has come to life again, performing to a new audience of hundreds of thousands of people at Hollywood's Classic Movie Palace, The El Capitan Theatre.

Declared a Historic Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles and restored to showcase its original lavish architecture, The El Capitan Theatre has been since 1991 an exclusive first run theatre, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, for The Walt Disney Studios. The theatre also hosts live stage shows, world premieres, special events, and screenings of classic Disney films.

In the 1920s, real estate developer Charles Toberman and Sid Grauman built the Egyptian, Chinese and El Capitan theatres. Los Angeles based Stiles O. Clements designed the elaborate cast-concrete Spanish Colonial style exterior; San Francisco architect G. Albert Lansburgh, known for his design of over 50 West Coast theatres and luxury cinema houses, designed the lavish East Indian inspired interior. Stars of the stage attended the opening of the El Capitan Theatre, the largest legitimate theatre in Hollywood, which debuted on May 3, 1926. They filled the 1,550-seat theatre, dubbed "Hollywood's First Home of Spoken Drama", for the premiere of the fresh-from-Broadway play CHARLOT'S REVUE, starring Jack Buchanan, Gertrude Lawrence, and Beatrice Lillie.

In 1941, the El Capitan Theatre was converted from a playhouse to a movie theatre. Searching for a theatre in Hollywood to premiere his controversial film, CITIZEN KANE, Orson Welles rented the El Capitan. On May 8, 1941, Welles' first feature film, CITIZEN KANE, premiered at the El Capitan Theatre. Shortly thereafter, the theatre closed for a ten-month renovation and modernization. The theatre reopened in March 1942 as the Hollywood Paramount, a new, streamlined "art moderne" first run movie house. Meanwhile, the El Capitan name and the entire El Capitan staff moved to the nearby Hollywood Playhouse.

In 1989, the Walt Disney Company joined forces with Pacific Theatres and launched a two-year, museum quality restoration of The El Capitan, led by renowned theatre designer Joseph J. Musil. Musil with the supervision of the National Park Service's Department of the Interior, and guidance from conservator Martin Weil and architect Ed Fields, achieved the goal recreating the original 1926 look and feel -- including original design elements such as the ornate plasterwork found hidden behind walls and the opera boxes in the main auditorium. The theatre reopened its doors to the public on June 19, 1991 for the world premiere of Walt Disney Pictures' THE ROCKETEER. THE ROCKETEER became the first of many Walt Disney Pictures feature films to premiere at the El Capitan Theatre.


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