State Theatre to feature Waring films during Arts Festival

Two rare Fred Waring motion pictures, featuring the music and acting of Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, will be featured at 3 p.m. on July 13 and 14 at the State Theatre in State College, Pa., during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.  An Arts Festival button will be required for entrance.

"Syncopation" (1929) was publicized as the “first mammoth all-talking screen extravaganza, featuring the world’s greatest band making their film debut in a spectacular musical drama." The film featured the band’s first female performer, Dorothy Lee along with actors Barbara Bennett and Morton Downey. The Pennsylvanians were appearing in the Broadway musical "Hello Yourself" at the same time the film was being shot for RKO, the American film production and distribution company. Every morning they traveled from Manhattan to the movie set on Long Island and then back to Manhattan to be on Broadway in the evening.

Warner Brothers' "Varsity Show" (1937), nominated for an Academy Award for best dance direction in 1937, starred Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians as themselves, along with a supporting cast that included Dick Powell, Ted Healy, and Rosemary and Priscilla Lane. With music and lyrics by Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting, the dynamic selection of songs in this lively musical included "Old King Cole," sung by Johnnie Davis; "We're Working Our Way Through College," sung by Dick Powell; "I'm Dependable," sung by Priscilla Lane and Fred Waring and written by Tom Waring and Don Raye; "Love Is on the Air Tonight," sung by Buck and Bubbles; among others. The highlight of "Varsity Show" was a memorable college finale, orchestrated by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians and choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

The films are from Fred Waring's America collection, located in 313 Pattee Library, west, and part of Penn State's Special Collections Library. The historical memorabilia in the collection reflects Waring's nearly 70-year career as a bandleader, choral conductor, glee club pioneer, music educator, golf tournament host and entrepreneur. Fred Waring's America is online at

For more information about the Waring Collection, call 814-863-2911. For more information about the film, call festival organizers at 814-237-3682.

Last Updated July 02, 2012