Jeff Rapsis, silent film music composer, participates in this year’s series at Rogers Center for the Arts in North Andover.
Jeff Rapsis, silent film music composer, participates in this year's series at Rogers Center for the Arts in North Andover.

Film buffs love those oldies, but goodies -- the vintage movies that paved the way for today's blockbusters. And nothing is older than flicks from the silent film era.

The Rogers Center for the Arts at Merrimack College, North Andover, pays tribute to those movies from the bygone-days with a series of silent films, projected on the big screen with live music.

The free screenings, open to all, includes Hollywood's first-ever dinosaur movie, a creepy thriller for Halloween, a rip-roaring early Western and a landmark adaptation of the Joan of Arc story.

Organizers of the series hope to recapture the magic of early Hollywood by presenting silent films as they were intended to be shown -- in restored prints, in a theater on a big screen, with live music and an audience.

Poster from The Passion of Joan of Arc being screened in March as part of Rogers Center for the Arts silent film series.
Poster from The Passion of Joan of Arc being screened in March as part of Rogers Center for the Arts silent film series.

"If you can put together those elements, it's surprising how much power these films still have," said silent film composer Jeff Rapsis, who provides the musical accompaniment. "You realize why these films caused people to first fall in love with the movies."

The series begins Wednesday, Sept. 14, with The Lost World (1925). Starring Wallace Beery and Bessie Love, it's the first-ever movie adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's tale of British explorers who discover pre-historic creatures still thriving in a remote South American locale.


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Analisa Leaming in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Ogunquit Playhouse.
Analisa Leaming in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Ogunquit Playhouse.

Other films include The Man Who Laughs (1928), Wednesday, Oct. 26, starring Conrad Veidt, a spooky tale for Halloween; The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926), Wednesday, Jan. 25, starring Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper and Vilma Banky, an epic Western; and The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928),Wednesday, March 22, a riveting film that recreates the trial of Joan of Arc.

All films screen at 7 p.m.

Amanda Collins and Lewis D. Wheeler in The Totalitarians at Gloucester Stage Company.
Amanda Collins and Lewis D. Wheeler in The Totalitarians at Gloucester Stage Company.

"If you haven't seen a silent film the way it was intended to be shown, you're missing a unique experience," said Rapsis. "At their best, silent films can be surprisingly sophisticated. They still retain a tremendous ability to cast a spell, engage an audience, tap into elemental emotions and provoke strong reactions."

Call 978-837-5355 for info and details.

On the marquee

Joey Pierog teaches Music for Aardvarks at Indian Hill Music School.
Joey Pierog teaches Music for Aardvarks at Indian Hill Music School.
  • HIGH-STEPPING DANCE: Ogunquit Playhouse dances into fall with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a rip-roaring musical comedy classic running Sept. 7-Oct. 1. Based on the MGM movie musical, it features music by Gene DePaul, lyrics by Johnny Mercer and book by Lawrence Kasha and David Landay. Based on the Stephen Vincent Benet short story "The Sobbin Women," it's about the Pontipee brothers and their unusual pursuit of brides. BT McNicholl, who directed the award-winning Billy Elliot the Musical in 2014 and West Side Story in 2013, returns to direct. Tickets start at $47 at 207-646-5511 or www.ogunquitplayhouse.org.
  • A PREMIERE: Gloucester Stage Company presents the New England premiere of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's The Totalitarians, on through Sept. 24. The play is a not-so-tall-tale dark comedy about the state of modern politics, relationships and how easy it is to believe truths without facts. $28-$38 at 978-281-4433 or www.gloucesterstage.com.
  • OPEN HOUSE: Indian Hill Music School hosts a free day of music, fun and learning on Saturday, Sept. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at its 36 King St., Littleton, home. Events include free classes and activities for all ages, an instrument petting zoo, live music by Indian Hill faculty, free ice cream and more. Celebrate the new early childhood program with a Music for Aardvarks kickoff party at 10 a.m. featuring teacher Joey Pierog. The fun and frolicking continues through 4 p.m. Visit www.indianhillmusic.org or call 978-486-9524 for info.

Nancye Tuttle's email address is nancyedt@verizon.net.