Green Lawn Abbey fundraiser
Organist likes challenge of classic silent film
In an upcoming screening of The King of Kings, Shawn Kenney is content to let his fingers do the talking.
Kenney, musical director at Holy Family Catholic Church on the West Side, will be the organist playing the original score of the classic silent movie, to be screened Saturday, June 1, on the front lawn of Green Lawn Abbey, 700 Greenlawn Ave.
"This is just a phenomenal film," he said. "You just can't put any music to a silent film."
He said he keeps pretty true to the original score as much as possible, throwing in effects such as oboes, clarinets and trumpets whenever the script calls for them.
But he also offers in a bit of his own personality through the music.
"Every time you do it, it's a little different," said Kenney, 26, of Dublin.
"As the film goes along, you never know what you're going to do. If it feels right, I do it."
The abbey opens at 8 p.m. and the movie will be shown at dusk, about an hour later.
Admission is free, but there is a $5 charge per car for parking. Patrons are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs.
Sandwiches and refreshments will be sold.
Cecil B. DeMille's masterpiece was released in 1927, the same year the abbey was built. It is 122 minutes -- a rather long piece for Kenney, who's played it three previous times.
"When you start playing this film, you get pulled in," said Kenney, who also directs the homeless choir at Holy Family.
"It seems like 10 minutes."
In recent years, preservationists have launched a concentrated effort to restore the abbey, with an overall objective of making it a functional mausoleum again.
The Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association has raised roughly $125,000 for an estimated $1 million in upgrades at the mausoleum.
Aesthetic improvements, such as replacing stained-glass windows and brass doors, are being made slowly.
Janice Loebbaka, president of the preservation association, said fundraisers give the preservationists an opportunity to show off the facility as a valuable community asset.
"This will give us a chance to have hundreds of people come and visit the abbey," she said, "and that's something we can't always do."