The Ritz Theatre in Haddon Needs Our Help – 7 Reasons Why You Should Help Keep This Theatre Alive! #savetheritz

ITS HISTORY AND MY HISTORY WITH IT

A major landmark artistic destination in South Jersey, The Ritz Theatre has been thrilling audiences with ridiculously amazing theatrical performances for many decades now. This theater has been delighting audiences since 1927 when it opened as a vaudeville movie house. During the 50’s and the 60’s, The Ritz became known for its fine art and foreign film showings. And in the 70’s, it became a movie theater that specialized in showing pornographic movies….. or so I’ve heard… (Stop looking at me like that! I wasn’t born yet!)

Me as “Seaweed” in The Ritz’s production of HAIRSPRAY in 2011.

Anyways, around 1986, the theater reopened its doors to LIVE theater! And since then, it has become the focal point of so many theater fanatics in the South Jersey/Philadelphia region. And for me personally, it’s been a theater that I have fallen in love with ever since 2011 when I made my Ritz debut in Hairspray, a show that broke every single box office record at the theater. I played Tracey in that production….. okay, I didn’t. (I played Seaweed in this production… I’m a 6 foot tall, 185 pound black guy from Trenton… let’s be honest, ME playing Tracey is the last thing you want to see…)

I went on to perform in South Pacific on the Ritz stage in 2012, and I am currently playing the character Mr. Black (not a joke, that’s my character’s actual name) in the upcoming production of Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party at The Ritz, opening the first weekend of May.

THE MESSAGE HEARD ‘ROUND THE STATE

As I mentioned before, I have fallen in love with this theater. While it is not my home theater, it is a theater that I hold sooooo close to my heart. And throughout my three years of performing there, I learned that the entire South Jersey/Philadelphia community of audience members and performers has fallen in love with it as well. And it is for that very reason that I am writing this blog post today…

The theater that we have all fallen in love with is in trouble, and it needs our help.

As I was checking my Facebook feed on Friday for the 90 millionth time (#FacebookAddictionProbz) and found that a lot of my theater friends were posting pictures of themselves performing on The Ritz stage. I didn’t think much of it until I got a text from a friend of mine (for humor sake, I’ll refer to her as  Peanut Butter) that featured a gut wrenching message from the head honcho of the theater, Bruce Curless. Bruce is one of the sweetest, most passionate men I have ever met in my entire life, and his message made my heart sink so fast.

THE MESSAGE

We need to raise $50,000.00 fast by March 31, or there won’t be a Ritz
Dear Facebook Friends and Family,
I have debated whether or not I should appeal to all of you this way, but times are desperate. Those of you who really know me know that I can be a little over-dramatic at times. This is not one of those times. Some of you are so much more than Facebook friends. Some are family, some are life-long friends, and some are so dear to me that not talking with you face-to-face seems wrong. However, there just isn’t time.
I write to you today for help. We are about to drown. The preverbal wolf is at the door. So many great plans are in the works. A very energized Board is hard at work on shows and funder-raisers. Our very small staff is doing an impossible job – and doing it well. There isn’t a day goes by that we aren’t writing for grants, selling groups and promoting every program we have planned. I wish that would fix it. It won’t. It will help, but it won’t fix it. We need to raise $50,000.00 fast by March 31, or there won’t be a Ritz to have a fund-raiser for. I am appealing today for your gifts, anything large or small, it will all help to make a difference.
For the past 29 years I have been blessed and entrusted with running an arts organization that has changed lives—if no one else’s, certainly mine. I’ve watched as young people, for the first time, witness the magic that these four walls have created. I’ve watched audiences full of high school students, silent, listening to every syllable that is being uttered on stage. I’ve stood at the front doors at the end of a show and heard thousands of people thank me for bringing them a moment of escape or inspiration or fun. I’ve watched actors, singers, dancers, and musicians grow as artists. I truly believe, as Maria Callas said, we have “made a difference.”
Mail all tax deductible donations to:
Save the Ritz
The Ritz Theatre Company
915 White Horse Pike
Haddon Township, NJ, 08107
Or if you like, follow the link below to make your donation
I am confident that by coming together, we can save the Ritz.
Call if you want – 856-858-5230 ext. 209 If you know my cell, you can use that also.
Sincerely,
Bruce
http://www.ritztheatreco.org/?go=donate

I read this message and I was in complete shock, mainly because this theater is so beautiful and full of talent and passion that I could not even fathom losing something that is so valuable to the artistic community.

SPRINGING INTO ACTION

Soooo… this beautiful theater that so many of us enjoy immensely (and some of my closest theater friends call home) REALLY needs our help. We CANNOT lose this theater. It is too beautiful, the staff is too passionate, the artistic talent is too dedicated, and our audiences are too loyal and too kind for it to just go away.

There are two things that easily can make me cry: 1 – The Notebook 1 – Ferris Wheels … 1 – Losing a loved one, and 2 – losing an artistic vision that is near and dear to my heart, like a show closing, or losing a stage like The Ritz that has given me soooo many great memories.

ANY DONATION CAN HELP. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DONATE WHATEVER YOU CAN TO HELP THE RITZ THEATRE.

Mail all tax deductible donations to:

Save the Ritz
The Ritz Theatre Company
915 White Horse Pike
Haddon Township, NJ, 08107

Or if you like, follow the link below to make your donation online: http://www.ritztheatreco.org/?go=donate

7 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HELP KEEP THIS THEATER ALIVE

Still deciding whether you should donate or not? Okay, that’s fair. Well, to help you out, I have compiled 7 reason why helping to save The Ritz is one of the best decisions you can make:

  1. IT’S AFFORDABLE THEATRE: You got $250 laying around to go see a Broadway show? If you do, GREAT, you’re taking me with you (you’re buying me dinner too). Truth is, not too many people have that kind of money, and The Ritz offers you high quality theater for VERY affordable prices.
  2. HIGH FRIGGIN’ QUALITY: Most theaters like The Ritz don’t have a big budget for costumes, sets, or special FX, so they have to focus on often overlooked details like THE ACTUAL STORY, characters, and the ideas the show presents. As a result, you’re not boggled down with spectacle, you get high quality talent that is story and character focused. A show that makes you think.
  3. LIVE AND INTIMATE: IMAX-3D-HDTV-Surround Sound-Smell-o-Vision films are great and all, but nothing beats the energy and intimacy of a live theatrical setting. There’s something about being around real human bodies that even the most talented of techies can’t match. (“Mmmm… humansssss…” said Hannibal Lecter.)
  4. IT’S UNIQUE: Seriously, the stuff done at this theater is one-of-a-kind.
  5. NEVER THE SAME SHOW TWICE: The Ritz doesn’t focus on reviving things you’ve already seen a billion times and The Ritz will not insult your intelligence by throwing stuff up on the stage that is the same old crap you’re used to. Every show is unique, every performance is unique, and every performer is unique. Pretty much every single show is a one-in-a-lifetime event.
  6. SAVING A THEATER IS SEXY: Wanna impress the guy or gal you’re going on a first date with? Throwing in, “Yeah, I helped save a really popular theater” may be the PERFECT aphrodisiac. (Sprinkle in a good dessert with that line, and you’ll be married in less than a week.)
  7. THERE’S UNMATCHED PASSION: It’s so easy to be gung-ho about theater when you are able to make a real living out of it. Or if you’re still living off your parents. But if you’re working for nothing but mainly praise and peanuts (and at times, gin) – THAT is love and passion.

I have an 8th reason too. I know I said, there would only be 7, but I have to throw in the fact that this upcoming season is PHENOMENAL, and we might lose it. In fact, as I mentioned before, I am currently playing Mr. Black (wait, really? you’re still laughing at that?) in The Ritz’s current production of Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party. I am really proud of the work we have done with this show so far and I know for a fact that you will enjoy it. You wanna talk about shows that push the limit and make you think… THIS show will DEFINITELY do that. If you’re not familiar with it, look it up. It is VERY unique and gritty and rarely ever gets done as a live performance. Seriously, coming to see this show may actually be the only time you’ll get to see it.

For ticket information, you can visit my website at http://www.KyrusKeenan.com or The Ritz’s website at http://www.ritztheatreco.org.

ANYTHING CAN HELP

Even if you only have $5.00 to spare, please donate. It’s worth it to honor the past, it’s worth it to support the present, and it’s worth it to invest in the future.

Please, please help. If there was ever a time to support your local arts… THIS is definitely it.

#ky

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3 thoughts on “The Ritz Theatre in Haddon Needs Our Help – 7 Reasons Why You Should Help Keep This Theatre Alive! #savetheritz

  1. Thank you for posting this! I did theatre summer camp here and then began ushering and even assistant stage managed a show (“Marathon ’33” – definitely unique theatre). It’s a wonderful place.

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