Free

Christmas Magic Lantern Show

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The Garfield Center for the Arts

210 High Street

Chestertown, MD 21620

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Travel back in time with the boisterous fun of America’s only Victorian magic-lantern show. An authentic 1890s visual extravaganza projected on a full-sized screen—the kind of show that led to the movies! Christmas stories like Scrooge, The Little Match Girl, and The Night Before Christmas; animated comedy; and carols—all dramatized on screen by a live showman and singer/pianist. The audience participates in the fun, creating sound effects, and joining in chants and sing-along carols.

For 25 years, The American Magic-Lantern Theater has delighted audiences from Lincoln Center to Singapore. “Remarkable . . . You'll be enthralled,” says The Family Adventure Guide to Connecticut. But National Public Radio says it best: “It’s an incredible experience . . . Don’t miss them. They’re a living national treasure!” For adults and children 5+.

The show is appropriate for adults and children over 5. Tickets are free, with a suggested donation of $5 per adult at the door. RESERVATIONS are required.

About Magic Lantern Shows

In Victorian times, Magic Lantern Shows featured live music and narration and gorgeous illustrations (many of them animated) projected rapidly from a huge projector lit with gas "limelight" to illustrate stories, songs and comedy. The technology came before the silent films, yet boasted rich color, along with sound and spectacular special effects. Everyone joined in the fun of watching Magic-Lantern Shows on the big screen, clapping and stomping one minute, moved to tears the next. Colors swirled, animated cartoons cavorted, Christmas stories unfolded. The audience joined in creating sound effects, playing horns and tambourines, chanting and clapping, booing and cheering, just as in a melodrama.

The magic lantern came in an incredible number of shapes and sizes, from professional lanterns and slides used in touring Magic-Lantern Shows, to simple black projectors used in school libraries and fraternal organizations, to small children's toys. Many are still around. Anyone having a lantern or slides is invited to bring it to the Magic-Lantern Show for comment by the show's director.

American Magic-Lantern Theater is the nation's only theater company specializing in this form of entertainment. Over the last 20 years the Theater has performed for more than a million people in 38 states and 5 foreign countries.

Terry Borton, lead showman of The American Magic-Lantern Theater, became interested in the magic-lantern because his great-grandfather had one, which was passed down in the family. "When I was a child," says Borton, "my father put on shows for us, using the same slides and dramatic style that his grandfather had used two generations before, at the turn of the century. Some of those same slides are in our shows today, a hundred years later. And I hope that my style is just as dramatic and memorable as great-grandpa's was back then!"




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The Garfield Center for the Arts

210 High Street

Chestertown, MD 21620

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