Ritz Theatre

107 Broadway,
Newburgh, NY 12550

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Showing 26 - 46 of 46 comments

kencmcintyre on November 12, 2007 at 7:58 pm

There are some vintage photos on this page:

Marcel on May 14, 2007 at 1:09 pm

To Robert R. from 10/17/05: The Mid-Valley Twin was a seperate theater located in the Mid-Valley Mall accross town. It opened in 1967, twined in 1979 and closed in 1986, when United Artists built a multiplex, now known as “Showtime Cinemas”.

Marcel on March 28, 2007 at 11:21 am

Does anyone have any photos of this theater when it was Cinema 1 and 2-in the 70’s. Would like to see some.

treitano on May 10, 2006 at 5:34 am

Mr. Wilson,
Pleased to meet you. Interesting, Levy and then Levine. Yes, my time was after the late 40s – in the 50’s. You know a lot about those Newburgh theatres and the people who ran them. Thank you for sharing that information because I fear much has been lost. I was an actor and also a stage manager for a few touring shows and have been in beautiful restored theatres like the El Portal and the Mayan in Los Angeles, the Victoria in Dayton OH and the Meyer in Green Bay WI. I always wished I could go backstage at the Ritz, but I’m sure it’s gutted and anything of historic value is long gone.

BobWilson on May 10, 2006 at 4:20 am

Mr. Treitano – It may have been Levine in your day, but it was definitely Sonny Levy in my day (back in the late 1940’s), Ray Boyea was the manager of the Broadway and the Cameo, and Lester Scott ran the Academy back then. You say you’ve played in many restored ‘palaces’ around the country…just what was it you played? Did you graduate from NFA? What year?

treitano on May 10, 2006 at 3:46 am

I saw the article in the Parade section and that brought me to this site.
I remember when I was a child an old man would come to Liberty Street School on Thursdays, I think, and hand out flyers advertising a Saturday morning cartoon fest at the Ritz. (this was around 1958) Cost was 25 cents, then went up to 35 cents. The Cartoons were sometimes preceded by a stage show. I remember seeing Zippy the roller skating Chimp and also a puppet troupe called the Billygoons. Then we would go up the street to Texas Wieners for lunch.
I even have an old postcard somewhere of Cohen’s Opera House.
Some notes on previous posts:
I remember you came in on the Mezzanine floor off Broadway. The Orchestra was downstairs, and there was a balcony upstairs which we were never allowed to use. They told us it was condemned, but I think they just didn’t want us kids falling out of the balcony. It was a beautiful theatre. Shame it became such a mess. I’ve played in many restored palaces around the country and was often reminded of my childhood days at the Ritz.
I also remember a kid named Steve Levine who also lived up on the Heights, and I believe his father was manager of the Ritz, so it may have been Levine, and not Levy.
The Broadway — I seem to remember when it burned the Beatles’ HELP was playing, but I could be wrong on this. I think the Newburgh News had a front page photo of the marquee in flames with the big letters HELP. But don’t quote me on that.

JohnMessick on May 7, 2006 at 4:26 am

thank you Warren. I took that out of the Parade section of my sunday newspaper. It is titled History Happened Here. I thought it would be an interesting piece for the Ritz theater page. again thanks for your insight.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 7, 2006 at 4:15 am

It wasn’t as easy or straightforward as that. After their 1941 vaudeville act (which also was performed at Loew’s State in NYC for a week beginning 1/1/42), they pursued separate careers until 1947-48, when the idea of teaming them in a TV version of Lucy’s radio program, “My Favorite Husband,” came up. That idea was rejected, but became the nucleus for a new one that developed into “I Love Lucy.” Many more details about this can by found in my book, “Lucy & Desi,” pubished in 1991 by Simon & Schuster.

JohnMessick on May 7, 2006 at 3:31 am

a bit of historical significants: Where We First Loved Lucy. Lucy Ball already was a successful actress when she married Desi Arnaz, a handsome Cuban bandleader. But she confessed she was petrified when, on Dec. 17, 1941, she and Desi debuted a live act-a comic skit, some song and dance at the modest Ritz Theatre in Newburgh, N.Y.“The audience loved it,” proclaimed the local paper. Encouraged, the newlyweds went on to transform their lovebird lunacies into the show I Love Lucy, drawing audiences to the new medium that was TV. How cool is that.

BobWilson on May 7, 2006 at 2:38 am

The manager of the Ritz back in the 1940’s and early 1950’s was Allen “Sonny” Levy, a good man and a Newburgh native. The Ritz is featured in an article in the May 7, 2006 issue of PARADE, the newspaper Sunday supplement magazine, FYI

Lynda on January 12, 2006 at 10:32 am

I am desperately seeking interior photos of the Ritz theatre, like the ones that Warren posted some time ago. Safe Harbors of the Hudson (owners of the property since 2003) is fundraising for a complete restoration of the theatre. This will be a major plus for the City of Newburgh (once known as “the Jewel of the Hudson” which is back from the brink and transitioning nicely, albeit slowly toward a total comeback. Opera Company of the Highlands & The Newburgh Symphony Orchestra are hoping to be based at the Ritz someday. The photos will be used in a short video piece that will be sent to prospective donors with fundraising literature. We appreciate any help in tracking down photos, and would be willing to pay for them.

ERD on January 7, 2006 at 10:43 am

I attended the Ritz theatre back in 1966 when I was working as a counselor in a summer camp in the area. A revival of Disney’s “BAMBI” was featured. The manager was very nice. When I told him I was interested in theatres, he took my girlfriend and me back stage during the intermission, and then showed me the dressing rooms and old pictures of performers who appeared there.

RobertR on October 17, 2005 at 2:11 pm

I find a listing in 1982 for a theatre in Newburgh called the Mid Valley Twin. Was it another name for this theatre?
View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 15, 2005 at 1:04 pm

Was this ever called just Cinemas I and II? The 2004 photo that I posted on 10/3/05 shows only Ritz Theatre on the marquee. I suspect that it was never called more than Ritz Theatre, with Cinemas I and II just used to identify the two “screens” for walk-in patrons.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 15, 2005 at 12:58 pm

In this 1941 image, the Ritz will soon present one of its legendary “live” road shows, with “Bojangles” as headliner. Meanwhile, Newburghers are enjoying “Week-End in Havana” simultaneously with the Roxy in NYC:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 12, 2005 at 6:47 am

The entrance and outer and inner lobbies of the Ritz cut through the Hotel Newburgh. In the photograph of the inner lobby, the down staircase to the orchestra seats can be seen to the left of the ticket-taker’s box. The fourth photo shows a Christmas kiddie show with Santa on stage. The old vaudeville annunciator at the left side of the stage says “Watch for the date of our next ALL IN PERSON ROAD SHOW…Complete change of program Tues. & Fri."

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 3, 2005 at 4:03 am

Here are two exteriors that I snapped in the summer of 2004. In the first, the view is towards upper Broadway. In the same block as the Ritz were the Cameo Theatre and then the Broadway Theatre. Some of the Cameo may still exist in re-development, but I believe that the Broadway was destroyed in a fire some years ago. Across Broadway from the Ritz was the Academy (of Music), which has been demolished. In the center of the second photo, you can see the peaked roof of the Ritz’s auditorium, which had its orchestra floor below street level:

OldNewYork on March 16, 2005 at 3:57 pm

Scenes for the new Gus Van Sant movie were filmed at the old Ritz Theatre in May of 2004. The film is titled ‘Last Days’. The interior of the old stage space was used as well as the rear entrance to the Theatre.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 9, 2004 at 1:28 pm

I happened to pass through Newburgh last week and found the Ritz still standing, but with no signs of recent activity. On the opposite side of Broadway, I noticed that the 1,217-seat Academy Theatre has been demolished, though the small brick buildings that surrounded it still stand. The Academy was the oldest theatre on Broadway and originally a music hall. In its final decades, it was a so-called “Negro theatre,” playing the same movies as the “white” houses, but many weeks later.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 21, 2004 at 8:51 am

The stage shows that I mentioned also played for one day only at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie, which was under the same management as the Ritz. If I recall correctly, they went to the Ritz first, then the Bardavon the next day.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 8, 2004 at 11:16 am

The Ritz had 1,303 seats. During the 1940s and early 50s, my family had a summer bungalow near Newburgh, so we often attended the movie theatres there. The Ritz and nearby Broadway were the two first-run houses, and both were run by United Paramount Theatres. I always preferred the Ritz because of its unique design. When you entered at the street level, you were actually in the balcony, and had to go down a steep ramp to get to the orchestra floor. The Ritz also had a large stage and once or twice each summer— for one day only— ran a “big band” show that was either headed for or had just left the Paramount Theatre in NYC’s Times Square. The stage show was accompanied by a movie. Because Newburgh was more than 50 miles from NYC, the movies were usually the latest and shown simultaneously with Broadway. In those days, Newburgh also had two second-run theatres, the Cameo, which was situated between the Ritz and Broadway, and the Academy, across the street. In the early 1950s, the opening of two drive-ins theatres near the city forced some of those conventional ones to close.