Hanover Wurlitzer Opens its Shades

Friday, Nov. 5th 2010

The Hanover Theatre’s 2400-pipe Wurlitzer organ is nearly completed and the theater hosted a special evening in celebration. Boston favorites Kathy St. George and Brian DeLorenzo, as well as organist Jonathan Ortloff, winner of the American Theatre Organ Society’s 2008 Young Theatre Organist Competition, were a part of the program.

A Majestic Concert

Review by Kevin Mathieu

Friday’s concert was AMAZING! A near sell out crowed LOVED the organ, and we all had a good chuckle at the cipher that developed a minute into the first selection after the “Hanover March”, “You’ve Got A Lot To See” from Fox TV’s Family Guy. Jonathan stopped playing when it became apparent that the cipher would not go away and addressed the audience referring to the organ as “a toddler in its terrible twos”, and “would soon grow out of its moody ways and become the grand mature instrument its meant to be”. Technicians were on hand and fixed the cipher in his brief address and he resumed playing (from the top). We were given a video tour of the chambers “via satellite link” with the theatre’s production manager Jon Rosbrook, and were thrilled with the multimedia presentations, starting with a trip back in time to the days of silent movies, to camera views of Jonathan’s skillful playing. A taste of Broadway was included with a half dozen vocal numbers by three talented singers, Maureen Brennan, Brian De Lorenzo and Kathy St. George and Jonathan accompanying. The first vocal selection was “I Love a Piano” with Jonathan on the organ, stopping to banter with the singer about this night being about the organ not the piano, she gave a great reply of “well it wouldn’t sound right if I said ‘I love your organ!’” a moment later they ‘had an idea’ and the upright player piano was wheeled on stage with the singer on top of it and Jonathan (midi-)controlling it from the Wurlitzer!  The feature presentation of Laurel and Hardy’s “Liberty” was a thrill for all and masterfully accompanied by Jonathan.

The organ crew was honored with individual plaques and one to hang in the lobby of the theatre, Don Phipps in return honored the theatre’s Executive Director for his support in the installation with a plaque made from wood taken from a Wurlitzer pedal rank, and the renaming of the Tuba Marabillis to “Troy’s Tuba”


(Hanover Press Release) The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts is proud to announce that starting Thursday, July 29, the 35-rank Wurlitzer Pipe Organ will greet each audience during the three-performance run of Always, Patsy Cline.

Starting  this Thursday, Len Beyersdorfer will play at the organ’s console to greet the theatre audience before the start of Always, Patsy Cline. The organ can also pre-record music pieces that can be stored and used for future performances. Plans are set to continue to showcase the organ before select performances at the theatre, bringing a unique theatre experience for all who attend!

The organ, comprised of 2,500 pipes, was generously donated by Donald Phipps of the Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society. Phipps’ Wurlitzer is made up of parts from other organs that originated in theatres throughout the state. He reached out in 2007 to the Executive Director of The Hanover Theatre, Troy Siebels, about relocating the grand organ to the theatre. Happy to accept the generous donation, Troy said, “This is a multimillion dollar organ. We couldn’t let the opportunity pass!”

Since its first introduction to theatergoers during the 2009 performances of A Christmas Carol, Phipps has been working endlessly to install and fully restore this important treasure in the theatre. Everyone at the theatre and within the organ community is enthusiastic about both the installation and the final effect. According to Don Phipps, “Now there will be a pipe for every seat in the theatre…just imagine, when the whole thing is running, you will hear it from the other side of Federal Square!”