The Ritz Theater recently put on the period piece “You Can’t Take It With You,” written by Moss Hart and George Kaufman. Set in 1938 New York City it is about a family who are a group of zany, eccentric creatures that follow their own pursuits based on what they want to do, rather than on what societal norms tell them to do.
This lifestyle, happily enjoyed by all nine members of the “family”, gets called into question when the twenty-something Alice falls for the son of a wealthy banker and socialite mother who expect their son – and future daughter-in-law to be “normal” and follow the dictates of society. The ensuing conflict and sometimes chaos, while humorous, also has a serious theme. The couple must examine, and ultimately choose, which path in life they will follow.
Produced by the Ritz Theatre Company, the cast was played by all actors in a well conceived and constructed set, replete with special effects. The play, while dated, still holds up, the characters are funny, and the eternal theme of choices never goes out of style.
The Ritz Theatre built in 1927 has its original Greco-Roman murals still on the walls, and is on the state and national registry of historical places. It was originally a vaudeville/movie theater, then became a foreign and art film theater, the only one in the area, including Philadelphia. At some point, it devolved into a porn theater until 1986, when the Ritz Theatre Company took it over to use as a venue for its theater productions. Today you can see plays, musicals, children’s theater, and special productions, all in a small vintage setting. The theater is managed by Bruce Corless, Producing Artistic Director and founder of the Ritz Theatre Company, on a budget of just under a million dollars a year.
The theater company is a professional non-Equity company that has been at the Ritz since its inception. Mr. Corless calls the theater its “greatest marketing asset, people are charmed by it with its vintage decor, warm, friendly staff, and excitement generated by a professional theater company performing its shows, it is charming, from start to finish.
There is a concession stand in the lobby for intermission goodies, and a small art gallery to the side where original art can be viewed and purchased. The theater is handicapped accessible, even allowing service animals, and programs in Braille (if given two weeks notice). Volunteers as well as donations are always appreciated and utilized, and are an integral part of the budget.
Next production is “The Wild Party”, from May 1st – 25th. Tickets can be purchased at www.ritztheatreco.org or by phone at 856-858-5230. Go online to see all the varied and exciting productions offered for 2014. If you like theater, you’ll love the Ritz!