The Times West Virginian

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April 3, 2014

Victorian Magic-Lantern Show set Saturday at Morgantown’s Metropolitan Theater

FAIRMONT — Audience members will have what has been described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel back in time during the Victorian Magic-Lantern Show Saturday at the Metropolitan Theater in Morgantown.

The Children’s Discovery Museum is hosting the event. Julie Bryan, the museum’s director, saw a similar production while living in Frederick, Md.

“I just thought it was the neatest thing I’ve ever seen,” she said. “So, as soon as I became director of the children’s museum, I’ve been trying to find a way to bring the magic lantern theater group here. It’s been my dream for a long time to be able to do this and to have it as a free event to bring it to Morgantown and have it as the children’s museum sort of giving this gift to the community.”

Magic-Lantern shows originated in the in the 1890s, before film. They feature a combination of projected images and live music, comedy and drama.

Three-inch, hand-painted slides are projected onto the stage to create images, which are then manipulated to seem like they are moving.

Saturday, a host will tell stories and jokes to accompany the projections, and he is expected to create up to 20 different characters with his voice alone.

The show will be done using authentic antique equipment, and they perform content unique to the 1890s. The audience can expect to participate by creating special effects for the production, banging on tambourines, chanting, singing and tooting on horns.

“You feel like you’re stepping back in time because you sit down and you get to experience something that people experienced in the 1890s,” Bryan said.

“You should expect to laugh and to sing along and to just have a really good time and be amazed that you are seeing something that people did back in the Victorian era.”

The program is recommended for adults and children ages 3 and up, and those who are interested in history or theater will especially enjoy the production, said Bryan.

The event is free, thanks to a grant from the Weldon Foundation and additional financial assistance from the Morgantown History Museum and the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum.

The Met also gave the Children’s Discovery Museum non-profit pricing to rent the theater. The historic venue will add a vintage atmosphere to the already antique production, Bryan said.

“It’s a beautiful historic theater, and I just thought it was the perfect venue for a program like this. You’re really going to feel the history of it.”

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and seating is based on a first-come, first-served basis. The show starts at 7 p.m.

The Children’s Discovery Museum is located at the Mountaineer Mall in Morgantown. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and admission is $4 per child over 12 months. Adults and children under 12 months are admitted free of charge.

Email Chelsi Baker at cbaker@timeswv .com or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.

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