During a trial run two weeks ago, Riggs performed period standards between screenings of Casablanca, and also accompanied slapstick comedies featuring Charlie Chase and Laurel and Hardy so adroitly that it was easy to forget the performance was live.
"I'm trying to present all my movies the way theaters did years ago," says Loderhose. "We even begin by pulling back a double curtain—the black one opens first, then the gold. Now, with the organ overtures, this is just like Radio City Music Hall."
As meticulously as he is re-creating this bygone era, however, Loderhose prefers that his shows not be characterized as out-of-date. He believes this entertainment is timeless, that there is an appetite for it among modern audiences.
"This is not old-fashioned," he says. "It's just the way it used to be." That's why Loderhose softens as the answering machine in his office continues to recite its litany of attractions. He suppresses a smile, basking in bewildered gratitude as he imagines the groggy, rumpled, cinemafreaques jotting down show times on the other end of the line. If he didn't own the Bay Theater, Loderhose would be one of them.