Jefferson Theatre’s pipe organ is back after more than 15 years

Janice K. Johnson

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City officials were some of the first to see the damage and described it as, “just heartbreaking.”

BEAUMONT, Texas — City officials are excited for the community to once again have the “magical and unique opportunity” to hear the Jefferson Theatre’s pipe organ in action.

The City of Beaumont is set to present the screening of the 1925 film, The Phantom of the Opera, in late April. The screening will feature a live score by organist Tom Helms and the recently refurbished Robert Morton Organ.

The organ was handmade by the Robert Morton Organ Company in California and shipped through the Panama Canal to Beaumont in 1927.

More on: Where to buy tickets for The Phantom of the Opera 

(Editor’s note: The above video is from a Nov. 24, 2021 newscast.)

The instrument was damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Rita, and repairs for the organ were set back in 2017 due to Tropical Storm Harvey. City officials were some of the first to see the damage and described it as, “just heartbreaking .”

Upon seeing the devastation, city leaders began looking for a repairman immediately. They landed upon Tom Helms, an organ builder from Florida with nearly 50 years of experience. 

Helms was the man chosen for the job of restoring the instrument. In a 2021 interview with 12News, he said he knew the job would not be easy.

“Leaky roof or whatever caused the ceiling to fall and crush the organ, and then parts were missing or whatever, but we’ve got it all restored now and it’s shiny and clean and new upstairs in the pipes,” Helms said.

The process of restoring the organ took Helms a long time. Helms said he worked on each individual part for months to bring the entire instrument back better than ever.

“There’s all kinds of percussions in the organ, there’s orchestra bells, there’s a xylophone, there’s chimes, you can get the door now,” Helms said.  

Helms said thanks to the organ’s new “new solid state relay system” it should play faster.

The organ was installed on a platform that allows it to majestically rise from the orchestra pit to the stage level. Officials said the organs has more than 700 pipes that, “produce a variety of sounds rivaling those of an actual orchestra.”

The screening will be held at the Jefferson Theatre on Saturday, April 30. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $10 and will go on sale on Wednesday, April 6. They can be bought at Ticketmaster.com.

Also on 12NewsNow.com … 

From a full City of Beaumont release:

The City of Beaumont presents a screening of the 1925 silent classic film, The Phantom of the Opera, featuring live score by organist Tom Helms and the recently refurbished Robert Morton Organ at the Jefferson Theatre, Saturday, June 30. Doors open at 6:00pm, show at 7:00pm, and tickets are $10.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday, April 6 and can be purchased on Ticketmaster.com.

The Robert Morton Wonder Organ, voiced particularly for the acoustics of the Jefferson Theatre, was installed on a platform that allows the organ to rise majestically from the orchestra pit to the stage level. The organ’s 778 pipes and many percussive effects produces a variety of sounds rivaling those of an actual orchestra. Hearing the organ in the theatre is a magical and unique opportunity.
Visit beaumonteventstx.com for more information about this and other exciting events.  

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