Back in the 1940s, New Lambton’s Savoy Theatre was the place to be.
Charlestown’s John Miner, 90, was thinking of the theatre on a trip down memory lane.
John said an electric organ would be played before and after a movie and during the interval.
“It was one of the highlights of going to the movies in Newcastle,” he said.
“The Hammond organ was a very new instrument. It was the first of the electric organs. Other than that, they’d been pipe organs.
“This was one that played jazz and fast-tempo stuff, not like the traditional organs that people knew.”
John said this type of organ was “a brand new thing that changed music”.
“The organ could play many instruments. It had buttons to press to give the effects of drums, clarinets and trombones,” he said.
“It was translucent and had various globes inside it. When the organist pressed certain buttons, the whole colour of the organ would change. It was quite spectacular.”
A prominent musician named Wilbur Kentwell played the organ at the Savoy.
John said an organist playing live was considered a “great attraction” at the time.
“You could even put in a request during the interval.”
John said organs at the movies were “a hangover from the days when they had silent movies and a pianist to play mood music when there was a chase on the screen”.
“When a love scene was taking place, the pianist would play a soft melody,” he said.
He said the Savoy Theatre was a bit of a “lovers’ lane”.
“Courting couples sat in the upstairs section,” he said.
“It was a place to take your girlfriend.”
He said the Savoy broke new ground.
“It was built just after the Depression.
“It was extremely modern compared to other theatres.”
The art deco building that housed the theatre still exists. Nowadays it’s home to New Lambton Community Centre.
Speaking of the cinema, reader Mike told Topics that he went to see a spy flick called Red Sparrow last week.
The movie was due to start at 10.20am, but didn’t actually begin until 10.50am.
“There were loads of ads and a couple of previews,” he said.
He reckons they played too many ads.
“Not all cinemas are like that,” he said.
Charlestown’s Les Powell went to the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.
At the time, he bought a couple of commemorative beers.
He cracked one open at the weekend to mark the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which begins on the Gold Coast on Wednesday.
“Looked OK, smelled very hoppy. Tasted flat and awful,” Les said.
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