Comedy Theatre

194 Grand Street
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11211

Organ Specifications:
II/8 M.P. Möller, Inc., Op. 2591 (1918)
II/7 Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. (c.1914)

The Comedy Theatre, located on Grand Street between Bedford and Driggs Avenues in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, was opened c.1907 by William Fox, who had taken over Carr's Unique Theatre, a vaudeville/legit house that had opened on August 18, 1894. Fox added moving pictures, interspersing them between five acts of vaudeville. It was at the Comedy that Fox conceived the plan to change the complete bill three times a week, calculating that the regular patrons would return with each change of program. This novel concept of performers playing two days in a house evolved into what became known as the "Wm. Fox Circuit."

Alterations were made to the Comedy in 1914, and Thomas W. Lamb redesigned the interior in 1918. Thomas Goldstone was the architect.

The Comedy Theatre was demolished in 1923, and replaced by the Metro Theatre on the same site in 1926.
M.P. Möller, Inc.
Hagerstown, Md. – Opus 2591 (1918)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 15 stops, 8 ranks
Automatic Player Piano

The Agreement (Sept. 3, 1918) between M.P. Möller and Comedy Amusement Co., Brooklyn, N.Y., states that Möller would build an organ, with ornamental enclosure, for a consideration of $4,500 plus the old "Style K" Wurlitzer in the theatre. This organ combined an 88-note player piano with an organ that was playable from the piano keyboard and its own 61-note keyboard, and a 30-note pedalboard. The organ was to be completed and ready for use on or before November 15, 1918, or as soon as possible thereafter. The organ was shipped February 14, 1919.
"Piano Manual – First Manual" – 61 notes, organ; 88 notes, piano
  French Horn
  Strings F
  Clarinet [TC?]
  Horn Diapason
  Vox Humana
"Lower [sic] Manual – Second Manual" – 61 notes, enclosed
  Strings VIbrant
  Vox Humana
  Horn Diapason
Sleigh Bells
20 Notes
  French Horn
Orchestra Bells
20 Notes
  Strings F
20 Notes
Pedal Organ – 30 notes
  Sub Bass
Bass Drum & Cymbal
Notes 1 to 14
  Bass [from 16']
Snare Drum
Notes 15 to 30
Special Features by Pedal Studs
    Bass Drum & Cymbals   Tambourine
    Tympani Roll (on Bass Drum)   Castanets
    Snare Drum   Auto Horn
    Triangle   Song Birds (2)
    Manual 1 to Pedal   Manual 1 to 2 Super
    Manual 2 to Pedal   Manual 2 to 1
    Manual 2 Super   Manual 1 Super
    Manual 2 Sub   Manual 1 Sub
    Manual 1 to 2   Pedal to Manuals
Adjustable Combinations
Manual 1 and Pedal Stops Pistons 1-2-3-0
Manual 2 and Pedal Stops Pistons 1-2-3-0
Pedal Movements
    Balanced Swell, Manual 2    
    Grand Crescendo Pedal    
    Electric Blower of Ample Capacity
    Electric Vacuum for Automatic Player Special
    Generator for Organ Action
  Wurlitzer Organ Company "Style K" Photoplayer
  Wurlitzer "Style K" Photoplayer
The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company
North Tonawanda, N.Y. (c.1914)
Electro-pneumatic action
Style K Photoplayer
2 manuals, 7 ranks, 196 pipes
Duplex Roll Player

Wurlitzer's Style K photoplayer was the largest of several models marketed as "Theatre Orchestras," "Pipe Organ Orchestras," or "One Man Orchestras," among other descriptions. Basically a reworked PianOrchestra or Orchestrion with numerous added features, photoplayers (also known as "pit organs") were long and low, designed to fit in a shallow orchestra pit so the musician could see the stage and screen without obstructing the view by the patrons. The Style K was constructed in three sections that had an overall length of 15' 4" and were 5' 4" high by 3' 3" deep: one section was a player piano with mandolin attachment that included an 88-note piano keyboard plus a 61-note organ keyboard. Two movable cabinets contained several short pipe ranks, percussions and traps. Black buttons below the piano keyboard controlled the mandolin attachment, train effect, auto horn, boat whistle, coupler, and bird whistle. Foot pedals allowed the musician to turn on and off the effects. Behind the music rack was the duplex roll player mechanism, controlled by white buttons underneath the music rack. The first Style K left the factory in April 1913; it seems likely that the Style K for the Comedy Theatre was contemporary with the 1914 alterations.

Instrumentation available on the Style K included:
    Piano with mandolin attachment   Glockenspiel
        Cathedral Chimes
    Pipe ranks:   Orchestra Bells
    Violin   Xylophone
    Oboe   Bass Drum
    Double Flute with stopped bass   Snare Drum
    Cello   Kettle Drum
    Double Flute   Cymbal
    Saxophone   Triangle
    Vox Humana   Cow Bell
        Steamboat Whistle
        "Coconut Clatter"
        Auto Horn
     Cinema Treasures web site:
     Junchen, David L. Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 1. Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1985.
     Kaufmann, Preston J. Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 3. Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1995. Specifications of "Style K" Photoplayer.
     Reblitz, Arthur A., ed. by Q. David Bowers. The Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments. Woodsville, N.H.: Mechanical Music Press, 2001.
     Trupiano, Larry. M.P. Möller Agreement (Sept. 3, 1918) of M.P. Möller organ, Op. 2591.

     Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 3. Wurlitzer "Style K" Photoplayer.