The lights dim, stars begin to shimmer across the black curtained backdrop, and the audience members think the movie is about to begin. Suddenly, the thundering sound of “The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ” hits them. Moviegoers new to the Byrd Theatre are intrigued as they see an organ rising from beneath the stage but those familiar with Byrd Theatre tradition hope to once again be enthralled by the experience. Then the house organ player, Bob Gulledge, turns to the crowd and says, “You ready to sing?” The familiar tune “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” got the whole crowd singing along this past Saturday night.
Gulldege can be found scoping out the crowd entering the Byrd Theatre on any given Saturday evening in Carytown. He explained that he walks around before the movie begins to evaluate the moviegoers’ mood, and then decides which songs he should play before the show. He also takes into account which movie is being shown and the age group of the audience.