History of The Ritz Theatre
The Ritz Theatre Company has been providing live, quality theater
performances to the South Jersey communities for over two decades. The Ritz
Theatre building, located at 915 White Horse Pike in Camden County, has
recently been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
historic Ritz Theatre opened in September, 1927 as a vaudeville, movie house
and quickly became the focal point of the community. Intimate
ornamental, the 472 seat Ritz is the only producing theater in the area
still resplendent in its original decor. The architecture is Greek revival
auditorium walls featuring 25 foot high neo-classical canvas murals with
gilt trimmed columns and velvet draped balconies enclosed by classic carved
balustrades. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Ritz was known for its
fine art and foreign film showings, drawing audiences from Philadelphia and
beyond the immediate community. In the 1970's the Ritz became a porno movie
house. In January of 1986, Puttin’ On The Ritz was formed and the Ritz
reopened its doors, to once again, become the focal point of South Jersey
entertainment. The Ritz Theatre Company, Inc. presents six mainstage
productions and eleven children’s productions each season. Also
offered are holiday shows, special events, summer theatre camp, dramatic
workshops and outreach programs. The Theatre building also boasts “The
Gallery at the Ritz,” an in-house art gallery that offers professional
monthly art exhibits.
1986 ( January) Grand Opening of
“Puttin’ On The Ritz” “The Boyfriend”
1987 Original Adaptation of A Midsummer Nights Dream the Musical
1990 Our production of Children of a Lessor God committed us to our
ASL Interpreted Initiative..
1994 Original Ritzy the Wolf Children’s Review to open New Honeywell Ford
Theatre in Wabash Indiana
1995 Celebration A new version working with Jones and
Schmidt who also visited and attended opening night celebrations
1997 Sweeney Todd Received 3 Philadelphia Barrymore Nominations for Best
Musical, Director and Female Lead. Carol Furphy Won Female Lead in a
1998 YMCA awarded the Ritz the Johnson Award for outstanding Community Service. Little Shop of Horrors Received 4 Barrymore Nominations. Outreach Programs received Barrymore Nominations two years in a row.
1999 Subaru Foundation becomes a Leading Sponsor for our Educational Matinee
Series and continues through 2005. Introduced Shadow Interpreted performance of The Fantasticks . Broadway Overtures, an original review was performed for our Summer Concert Series
2000 Premiere of Alex Wilkie’s Vaudeville Villians in our Mainstage Season.
2001 The Magick in the Music was developed and premiered, incorporating magic and music by Stephen Schwartz. A Special Project Grant from NJSCA for The Magick in the Music was awarded. In conjunction with The Magick in the Music, Stephen Schwartz performed at a luncheon in his honor. Our Production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was chosen to be performed in the Haddon Heights Dell by Camden County Parks Department and to be the entertainment for the South Jersey Cultural Alliance Encore Awards dinner, in Atlantic City. We received $175,000.00 Cultural Enrichment Grant from the State of New Jersey
2002 Original "western version" of Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado presented. The Ritz Theatre Building was listed on both The New Jersey State and National Register of Historic Places. Our Production of Nunsense was chosen to be performed in the park by Camden County Parks Department. We were contracted by Camden County Parks to produce The Rhythm of America from Hollywood to Broadway with City Rhythm Orchestra at Cooper River.
2003 Cast of 1776 performs at the Grand Opening of the National Constitution Center. Camden County Parks became major funder for Hair in Concert. Yankee Panky was the second original play produced on the main stage by Alex Wilkie.
2004 Received $10,000 Support from the Camden County Freeholders. We received $100,000 from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Received support from the Cultural Trust through the Historical Trust for the theatre building. Performed Ain't Misbehavin' in the Park, presented by Camden County Parks
2005 Camden County and TD Bank sponsored the 20th Anniversary Season. We performed I Do, I Do in the Park for Camden County Freeholders. We hired our first Equity Guest Artist, Mr. Fred Inkley, as the lead in Jekyll and Hyde.
2006 Performed Scrooge, the Musical with Shadow Interpreters making it accessible for the deaf and Hard of hearing. Performed Our Town in the park for the Camden County Freeholders.
2007 Performed Dames at Sea in the park for the Camden County Freeholders.
2008 Performed Scrooge, the Musical with Shadow Interpreters making it accessible for the deaf and Hard of hearing.
2009 Produced the updated version of the Original Musical produced in 1987, entitled A Midsummer Nights Musical.
2010 Shadow Interpreted Arsenic and Old Lace for the deaf and Hard of Hearing sponsored by Horizon Foundation. Suanne Reehm and the Ritz created a 4-book set of photos and memories including 25 years of shows and casts. We received a Grant from PNC for our area premier of Spamalot. With the grant we also produced a DVD, which was created by Studio Ten Creative Group, to promote Shadow Interpreting as a positive way of introducing the deaf and hard of hearing public to Theatre. The Grant was part of PNC's Arts Alive, a five year, five million dollar grant initiative for access for the arts.
2011 2011 Broke all box office records with the opening production of Hairspray. Received second PNC Arts Alive Grant for PNC in the Park, Theatre Under the Stars.