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Downtown New Port Richey to toast to '20s

(ran North, South editions)

Downtown New Port Richey will have the feel of the roaring '20s on Oct. 2, a night of silent films, live dancers, food and drink, and a slide show of old New Port Richey.

Events of the 1920s Hollywood Gala Premiere, sponsored by Greater New Port Richey Main Street, will take place at the Richey Suncoast Theatre and Progress Energy Art Gallery on Grand Boulevard. Proceeds will go toward the outdoor historic mural.

"We've gotten a copy of the 1919 movie Male and Female, starring Gloria Swanson and Thomas Meighan," said Jeannine Humphrey, co-chairwoman of the design committee for Main Street. Meighan built what is now known as Richey Suncoast Theatre in the 1920s in hopes it would encourage Hollywood stars to spend their winters in Florida.

"The movie is more than two hours long, but we're showing the dream sequence and the last 20 minutes of the film," she said. Co-chairman Charlie Skelton, president of the theater board, will give context for the scenes being shown. The film includes typical silent film musical accompaniment.

The movie is just part of the evening's entertainment.

Events start at 7 p.m. with a slide show of 1920s New Port Richey by Jeff Miller. After that is a short film starring Charlie Chaplin.

Dancers from Expressions _ the Dance Company will do the Charleston and Cell Block Tango from the musical Chicago on stage in the theater.

Then the excerpts from the Swanson-Meighan film will be shown.

"We're going to have stars from the silent movie era, too," said Ms. Humphrey. They include Gloria Swanson (Judy DeBella-Thomas), Rudolph Valentino (Jack Mariano), Mae West (B.J. Knehans), Tom Mix (Ted Thomas) and the Keystone Kops, who will direct sidewalk traffic between the two venues. Jim Smetzer from Pasco Camera will sell souvenir pictures with the "stars" for $5.

Everyone who attends is encouraged to dress in 1920s clothes.

Both the theater and the art gallery will serve hors d'oeuvres and wine throughout the evening.

If you go

WHAT: Hollywood Gala Premiere

WHERE: Richey Suncoast Theatre and Progress Energy Art Gallery, 6231 and 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey

WHEN: 7 p.m. Oct. 2

TICKETS: $35. Call 842-8066 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.