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Ritz Theatre Ready to Open, With All Its Former Glory [Winter Haven, Florida]

By DONNA KELLY
NEWS CHIEF
 
Published: Friday, October 14, 2011 at 11:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 14, 2011 at 11:41 p.m.

Grand reopening of restored Winter Haven theater is Oct. 28

When the newly renovated Ritz Theatre makes its community debut this month, costumes will be worn by patrons attending a party instead of actors performing on stage.

Twilight at The Ritz, a spooky but glamorous affair, will be held 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at the theater, 263 W. Central Ave.

With a nod to the vaudeville entertainers who once graced its stage and in honor of the Halloween season, patrons are asked to wear costumes, although they are not required.

Stella Heath, executive director of The Ritz Theatre, describes the 6 p.m. pre-celebration as the theater’s christening, during which sponsors and invited guests will be offered hors d’oeuvres and receive a goody bag.

“It’s (the community’s) first event in the restored theater and we will christen it with Champagne,” Heath said.

The gala begins at 7 p.m. and features dinner by Outback Steakhouse, dancing to live music by The Brass Heart Band, costume and dancing contests, games, and a fortune teller. …

It became The Ritz Theatre in 1932 and was a popular movie theater for decades.

In 1989, the building was turned into Off Limits, a short-lived teen night club.

The theater stood vacant and unused until 1997, until a group of friends interested in preserving the landmark formed the Ritz Theatre 100.

Fourteen years and $2.6 million later, The Ritz is poised to make her reentrance to Winter Haven Society. …

For the complete story, see http://www.theledger.com/article/20111014/ENT/111019579

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