Ritz Theatre

1148 E. Jersey Street,
Elizabeth, NJ 07201

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Ritz Theatre

Built on the site of the Drake Opera House/People’s Theatre/Star Theatre/ Jacob’s Theatre/Proctor’s Theatre. The theatre was purchased in 1925 by Jacob Fabian, who hired architect Fred Wesley Wentworth to design the Ritz Theatre on the site, which opened on March 9, 1926 with 2,791 seats. By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Entered a period of decline from the 1960’s onward. By 1980 it was threatened with demolition to build a parking lot. Rescued by local philanthropists who set out to restore the theatre. They ran out of money in 1989. In 1994 purchased by George Castro, who has restored it to its 1920’s grandeur and became a performing arts center. In 2014 new owners took over who installed new heating and cooling systems.

Contributed by TC

Recent comments (view all 27 comments)

markp
markp on September 26, 2009 at 6:30 am

Hope it gets sold soon, so perhaps then it can take off with shows and classic films.

RoadsideArchitecture.com
RoadsideArchitecture.com on March 22, 2011 at 12:32 am

The theatre is open (their website shows upcoming entertainment & movies). Here’s a photo I took this past weekend:
http://agilitynut.com/11/3/ritz.jpg

chasard321
chasard321 on March 4, 2012 at 12:04 am

I had my first job there. 1966, as an usher. $1/hr.
I think the manager’s name was Mr Oswald. He’d been a history major.

markp
markp on March 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Still waiting, still hoping this place can get into the hands of someone who can really bring it back to life. Concerts, Broadway shows, movies, opera. I know this place can do well. People said the same thing about New Brunswick and Newark, and look at the venues they now have.

repolton
repolton on October 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm

For more information about the building’s architect, see the website www.fredwesleywentworth.com I recently completed a book that focuses on the collaboration between Wentworth and Jacob Fabian, movie theater entrepreneur. REP

spectrum
spectrum on January 3, 2015 at 9:11 pm

Looks like they are under new management – the new website (http://www.ritztheatre.net/) says upcoming event info is on its way. There were three events in November 2014. The gallery has a lot of great interior photos.

markp
markp on January 4, 2015 at 1:13 am

I saw that about a month ago spectrum. Im hoping it happens cause Im an unemployed projectionist and stagehand who was helping out on the remodel by the former owner in the mid and late 2000’s. I really want to work here again.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on January 24, 2015 at 4:01 am

The British rock group Def Leppard filmed the music video for their song “Foolin'” here at the Ritz Theatre in the summer of 1983 during their “Pyromania” tour

mdvoskin
mdvoskin on April 6, 2020 at 4:33 pm

The exterior of The Ritz is used prominently in the HBO mini-series “The Plot Against America”, now running. They covered the front (street facing) panel of the marquee with an electric sign indicating the name of the theatre is “NEWSREEL”, but occasionally you get a glimpse of “The Ritz” on a few quick shots of the side panels. In the show, the theatre is supposed to be in Newark, but it is actually the The Ritz in Elizabeth NJ.

For those who don’t know, theatres that ran nothing but news reels were popular in major urban markets back in the 1940’s.

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