ESTMIM presents the Silent Feature Film "Steamboat Bill, Jr." - Accompanied by Donnie Rankin

Donnie Rankin24

The Empire State Theatre & Musical Instrument Museum is excited about our first silent film feature for 2024 with Donnie Rankin providing the accompaniment to the 1928 silent film "STEAMBOAT BILL JR." starring Buster Keaton.

Following through on a promise to his mother, William Canfield Jr. goes to River Junction to meet his father who has not seen him since he was a child. The younger Canfield isn't quite what the elder was expecting but the old man has bigger problems. He's being put out of business by J.J. King, who not only owns the local hotel and bank, but has recently introduced a new paddle wheel steamer that puts Canfield's older boat, the Stonewall Jackson, to shame. Bill Jr. and Kitty King take a liking to each other much to the dismay of both of their fathers. When a fierce storm hits River Junction, Bill Jr. is forced to save Kitty, her father and his father.

The accompanist, Donnie Rankin was born in Ravenna Ohio and was immediately immersed in music. After hearing his great-grandfather Don Sr. play the electronic organ at home, Donnie first took an interest in the theatre organ at the age of three when he heard the sounds of the Wurlitzer at the Civic Theatre in Akron, Ohio. After building a musical foundation in the school band, at age 12 Donnie’s family acquired their own organ and he began taking formal lessons. Classical piano training followed at age 16, and his budding talent quickly blossomed into first rate musicianship. Since then, Donnie has won several competitions and awards, including being named the Overall Winner of the American Theatre Organ Society's Young Theatre Organist Competition when he was 18. After his win in 2007, Donnie began a 5 year journey studying with noted organist Jelani Eddington. In the course of his career, Donnie has performed for several American Theatre Organ Society annual conventions, and has played for theatre organ audiences around the world, including appearances in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition to performances, Donnie has presented playing clinics as part of the ATOS Summer Youth Adventure and at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. His work as an organist and percussionist have been broadcast on countless stations including NPR, and BBC 2. In 2023 Donnie was named the American Theatre Organ Society's Organist of the Year. Donnie resides in Ravenna, Ohio where he runs a piano studio outside of his normal working hours. He remains on call as an organist at Cleveland’s Playhouse Square, and the Akron Civic Theatre.

Doors open at 1:30pm - General seating tickets are available at the door prior to the program….Please bring cash!

Freshly popped popcorn will be available and free tours of the pipe organ chambers will be held following the program.

The Empire State Theatre & Musical Instrument Museum is located in the Harriet May Mills Art & Home Center on the New York State Fairgrounds. It was established in 1966 as a Nonprofit and Educational Organization, Chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. The Wurlitzer organ was built in 1925 for the former RKO Keith’s Theatre in downtown Syracuse where it was used principally for silent film accompaniment and musical interludes. It was saved and reinstalled permanently in the Empire Theatre at the State Fairgrounds as the centerpiece of the theatre and musical instrument museum.

More information about the museum is available at https://www.facebook.com/SyracuseWurlitzer.