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The Ritz Theatre Celebrates 25th Season with Noises Off

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Ritz TheatreThe story of Noises Off, if you can call it a story, depicts the onstage and backstage antics of a fifth-rate acting troupe touring in an awful farce. Nothing On is the title of this play-within-a-play. The curtain opens on the dress rehearsal of the first act of Nothing On the night before it opens and with things not going well. In the second act we hear the first act of Nothing On from backstage, after it's been running a month. The third act takes us back to the first act of Nothing On yet again, and after two months of touring it is a worse disaster than one can imagine.

Noises Off is an exhausting experience of slamming doors, breaking windows, tripping up and falling down stairs, false entrances, endless flubbed lines, miscues, high drama, double entendres and a million laughs all while trying to find a missing plate of sardines. 

Hats off to the entire Ritz cast for well preserving this popular madcap comedy.

There was not a missed word or move with this high energy group. Of course how would we know anyway? The comedy was non-stop as an appreciative audience laughed out loud several times throughout.

Bruce A. CurlessThe ensemble cast is led by Ellen Sheinkin who plays the forgetful Dotty, and Paul McElwee, the speech affected Gary. Bruce A. Curless is the tippling Slesden. Jenn Collelouri is Brooke the inexperienced actress. John Jackowski is Lloyd, the director. Suzanne Yocus is the dependable Belinda. Casey William-Ficarra takes the role of Poppy the jealous assistant stage manager. Brian Rivell plays Freddy who fears violence. C.J. Kish as Tim, the stage manager. 

Bruce A. Curless, Producing Artistic Director. Set design by Bruce A. Curless and W. Kris Clayton. Costume designer, Trish Reichfeld. Sound design, Ernie Jewell and W. Kris Clayton. 

About the 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 is located at 915 White Horse Pike in Camden County. 

The historic Ritz Theatre opened in September, 1927 as Vaudeville, movie house and quickly became the focal point of the community. Intimate and ornamental, the 472 seat Ritz is the only producing theater in the area still resplendent in its original decor. The architecture is Greek revival with the auditorium walls featuring 25 foot high neo-classical canvas murals with gilt trimmed columns and velvet draped balconies enclosed by classic carved balustrades.

The Vaudeville shows and silent movies of the 20’s gave way to talkies in the 30’s. 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 1985, the Ritz returned to live theatre when Puttin’on the Ritz, Inc., a production company led by Producing Artistic Director Bruce A. Curless, took over. His goal was to return this historic theatre to its place as the focal point of fine entertainment in South Jersey. The Ritz dedicated its commitment to South Jersey with the purchase of this historic 1927 Vaudeville Theatre building. In 2002, The Ritz Theatre was placed on the New Jersey and National Registries of Historic Places and changed its name from Puttin’ On The Ritz to The Ritz Theatre Company, Inc. 

The Ritz Theatre Company, Inc. presents six main stage 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. 

Cultural Education at The Ritz: Ritz Theatre Improvisational Children’s Theatre Troupe. Ritzy the Wolf and Friends guide children through traditional fairytales in fun, positive and interactive performances. Students participate as the story unfolds live onstage, while learning basic principles like sharing or saying no to strangers. These performances are appropriate for Pre-K through grade 3. Workshops, study guides and meet-the-cast are available upon request. 

Small Old RitzArtistic Milestones

1986 (January) Grand Opening of “Puttin’ On The Ritz” “The Boyfriend” 

1997 Sweeney Todd Received 3 Philadelphia Barrymore Nominations for Best Musical, Director and Female Lead. Carol Furphy Won Female Lead in a Musical. 

1998 Johnson Award from YMCA for outstanding Community Service. Little Shop of Horrors Received 4 Barrymore Nominations. Outreach Programs Received Barrymore Nominations two years in a row.

1999 Introduced Shadow Interpreted Performance of The Fantasticks, Broadway Overtures Original Review Summer Concert Series 

2001 The Magic in the Music Development and premiere of Stephen Schwartz’ Musical Revue incorporating Magic and Music. Special Project Grant from NJSCA for The Magic in the Music was awarded. In conjunction with The Magic in the Music, Stephen Schwartz performed at a luncheon in his honor.

2002 Original “Western version” of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado presented. 

2002 The Ritz Theatre Building was listed on both The New Jersey State and National Register of Historic Places

2003 Cast of “1776” performs at the Grand Opening of the National Constitution Center

 

For tickets and more information: visit www.ritztheatreco.org or call 856.858.5230

 

Photo credits: courtesy Ritz Theatre Co.