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Silent No More:Old Films Get New, Live Soundtrack11:30
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Buster Keaton stars in "Steamboat Bill Jr." the 1928 silent comedy, where he played the bumbling son of a rundown riverboat's rough captain. (Courtesy of Douris Corp.)
Buster Keaton stars in "Steamboat Bill Jr." the 1928 silent comedy, where he played the bumbling son of a rundown riverboat's rough captain. (Courtesy of Douris Corp.)

Picture this. It's the mid 1920s and you've finally found that perfect seat in your neighborhood movie theater. A few minutes later, the lights dim and a spotlight hits the back of the theater.

A conductor walks down the aisle, spotlight firmly placed on his back, and instantly the audience starts applauding. A line of musicians briskly file into the orchestra pit. The conductor raises his baton, the lights go out, and the plush red curtains open.

It didn't matter that the film was silent--the room was filled with laughter and emotion and music. It's a captivating experience that mesmerized Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire native, even as a teenager. His interest hit a new level when he realized he could accompany these films live on his synthesizer.

This Sunday, Jeff Rapsis takes his talents to the Somerville Theatre where he'll singlehandedly accompany three Buster Keaton films.

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This program aired on August 5, 2011.

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