The Ritz Theatre originally opened in 1935 just six months after
construction had begun. It was built primarily as a movie house with a
line-up of vaudeville acts and road shows to add variety to the
entertainment available to the patrons.
interior was designed using the art deco style popular in the 1920's
and 1930's. It incorporated bright colors and bold geometrical patterns
in the motif. Its original wool carpet contained seven colors and was
specially ordered from Belgium to add an air of class and distinction.
the 50's and 60's Martin Theaters modernized the Ritz by changing the
decor in keeping with interior design popular at the time. Burlap
canvas was glued to the walls to make it more suitable for movie
presentations. The stage was left in tact but a new movie screen
consumed most of it with only a narrow strip left in front of the
screen - thus live performances were forgotten.
time, the beautiful carpet became soiled and the art deco moldings and
accents were painted over. Before long there was very little left of
what the Ritz was designed to be.
By the mid 70's the Ritz was closed for business and was left abandoned and in poor repair.
Enter Roberta Gamble.
to everyone as Miss Bobbie, the former Greenville High School drama
teacher took the old building into her heart, not only as a historic
landmark in downtown Greenville, Alabama, but as a facility that could
be used to perpetuate something she holds dear - the performing arts.
Through the dedication and leadership of Miss Bobbie and a group of local arts enthusiasts, the GAAC was organized in 1982.
groups dream became reality when the city agreed to purchase the
theatre for $75,000. In addition to the purchase price, the city also
pitched in another $63,000 for a new roof, new stage hangings, an
extension of the stage and renovations to the dressing rooms.
of the Ritz was done as a labor of love. By using city funding, lots
of volunteer labor, writing grants, the Ritz was reborn.