While there are two very different live shows at the Gold Town Theater this weekend, both have the potential to leave people who show up in a very windy place.
The first show on Saturday — Costa’s 13th Annual Xmas Bazaar Xtravaganza — is popular enough that two of the three scheduled performances were sold out by Thursday morning, so latecomers may end up out in the cold on a dark and stormy night. But for people wanting reassurance they can experience a fierce storm safely indoors, on Sunday the theater is hosting two screenings of the classic 1928 silent film “The Wind” with a live original musical accompaniment.
The holiday Xtravaganza — with a theme this year of classic TV shows and commercials — features about a dozen of Juneau’s “best and weirdest performers,” according to Collette Costa, the theater’s manager and co-owner. The screenings of “The Wind” are part of an ongoing series of Not-So-Silent presentations by the theater.
For the holiday Xtravaganza’s “lucky 13th,” the show is returning to the roots that inspired it, Costa said.
“The theme this year is sort of running through old TV shows,” she said.
By old TV shows, Costa isn’t referring to “Friends” or even “The Simpsons,” now in its record 35th year.
“My wheelhouse goes back to ‘All In The Family,’ ‘The Jeffersons,’ et cetera,” she said. “But we’re going to be covering everything from the Dean Martin specials to ‘Hee-Haw.’”
The inspiration for the first holiday Xtravaganza came from an episode of “Laverne and Shirley,” Costa said.
“It was a Christmas episode of ‘Laverne and Shirley’ where they put on a show at what they termed a loony bin on the television show,” she said. “And it’s always been one of my favorite TV episodes ever. And that was the whole genesis — the idea that it’s a variety show, and it’s also very loose and disorganized chaos. The idea of having all these people together in a room and scrapping together a show.”
“So this year we’re actually paying tribute to that and we’re going to be doing the dance number from that episode of ‘Laverne and Shirley’ in the show. I feel like it’s lucky 13 — we’ve come full circle.”
Also, because the show is a tribute to the so-called golden era of television, “we’re going to be having some classic commercials play out,” Costa said.
“‘I can bring home the bacon and fry up in the pan,’” she said, quoting one classic perfume commercial. There’s also some ad content no longer seen on network TV: “We’re doing a little Martini & Rossi. We got some dancing cigarettes.”
Besides Costa, performers in the show include Annie Bartholomew, Roblin Gray-Davis, Erin and Andrew Heist, George Kuhar, Jocelyn Miles, Shona Osterhaut, Salissa Thole Allison Waid and the Off-the-Hook Honeys. Costa said the performers, some of whom have been part of the show since its first year, will be making appearances fitting for the attention span of TV viewers.
“So it’s going to be like a lot of quick hits,” she said. “There will be some full performances by some of the performers and some will not be full.”
When “The Wind” is Not So Silent
While “bazaar” is used to describe Saturday’s show, “bizarre” is a fitting way to describe “The Wind,” which is both one of the last and most-acclaimed films of the silent era.
A National Films Registry essay refers to “cads, gossips and snarling villains” resenting a “sweet creature” who is subjected to the cyclones of men and Mother Nature at an isolated Texas ranch. The film stars Lillian Gish, whose acting career spanned from 1912 to 1987, and Costa said she’s a huge fan who considered the movie idea for a live soundtrack.
“It’s very atmospheric,” she said. “It kind of mixes genres of Western and sort of an early psychological terror film in its way. And the group that is doing it — they’ve done three or four of these already — they don’t tend to do traditional soundtracks for these.”
The movie also will likely resonate with plenty of Juneau residents exposed to the elements at this time of year, Costa said.
“She goes mad out on the plains from this constant wind — and of course there’s other plot twists that happen that also drive her a little bit insane,” she said. “So living here one of the reasons I wanted to pick it is when those Taku winds set in we all know what that’s like. We know what that feels like after 48 hours of constant wind, to feel like you’re losing your mind. So that’s the experience I want to replicate for everyone.”
The music is being performed by The Sanctuary Orchestra, comprised of Bob Banghart, Dave Hunsaker and Kari Groven. Banghart, in an interview Wednesday, said he first saw “The Wind” before the COVID-19 pandemic when the hope was to perform a soundtrack for it then, but since he’s had several more opportunities to observe its moves — especially during the past couple of weeks.
He said the dominant themes of the movie, besides the wind, include the fact “it’s also shot fairly dark. There isn’t bright, sunny days.”
“You can get dark through contrast…and also silence can give you some very strong moments when that’s bracketed with the right color,” he said. “So it’s just a matter of playing through it. What we do is we sit down and we box it out — just sort of chart out the film saying ‘we need something here, something here, something here, and then what’s that going to be?’ What supports the dramatic aspects of the piece and supports the actors, and maintains some relationship with overall cinematography?”
Both composing ahead of time and creative impulses during the film are part of the performance, Banghart said.
“We’ll sketch some basic themes and then chart those out,” he said. “And sometimes the chart is music, sometimes it’s chords, sometimes it’s instruction. And then when we get in there and play it improvisation is a large component. And sometimes it works really, really well. And sometimes you’re off your mark. But that’s the name of the game.”
Hunsaker will be playing a sitar and guitar, Banghart an octave violin — both with some pedals and other “electronic assistance” — while Groven will be contributing vocals, percussion and flutes, Banghart said. The trio has been part of other Not-So-Silent performances, including a screening of “The Phantom of the Opera” earlier this year.
One other notable aspect of Sunday’s screenings is it will be shown on 35-millimeter film, of which perhaps half a dozen versions still exist, Costa said.
“It’s kind of a big deal to be able to get one,” she said, adding Gold Town Theater has an in-house collection of 35mm trailers and other items so staff can ensure the projector is in peak working order for the rare reels.
• Contact Mark Sabbatini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 957-2306.
Know and Go
What: Costa’s 13th Annual Xmas Bazaar Xtravaganza.
When: Saturday 4-5:30 p.m., 6:30-8 p.m. and 9-10:30 p.m.
Where: Gold Town Theater, 171 Shattuck Way #109.
Tickets: $15-24. Note: some shows sold out.
What: Not-So-Silent film presents “The Wind,” featuring live music accompaniment.
When: Sunday 3-4:30 p.m., 5-6:30 p.m.
Where: Gold Town Theater, 171 Shattuck Way #109.