Riviera Theatre

67 Webster Street,
North Tonawanda, NY 14120

Unfavorite 5 people favorited this theater

Riviera Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Rivera Theatre opened on December 30, 1926 with an MGM feature titled “Upstage”, starring Norma Shearer and Oscar Shaw.

The theatre was designed by Leon Lempart & Son of Rochester New York for the Yellen family. The most famous Yellen being lyricist Jack, whom with partner and pianist Milton Ager penned the classics “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “Aint She Sweet”.

The Yellen family leased the Rivera Theatre to Shea’s Operating Corp. in 1928. It was as this time the extra “i” was added to the name, changing it to Riviera Theatre. The Shea’s company also did some redcorating of the theatre at this time. The most notible change being the painting of the now famous “Naked Ladies” on the console of theatres 3/11 Wurlitzer organ, which had left the Wurlitzer factory with an ivory painted console.

The following decades would see many changes in operators. Shea’s operated the theatre into the 1940’s, when the Dipson-Basil company (later Dipson) took the reigns and continued its operation into the early-1970’s.

The theatre was closed for the year 1971 while it waited for a new operator to take an interest in it. A group of local entrepreneurs, whom had been running the sucessful Parklane Resturant in Buffalo, stepped up and would run the theatre into the early-1980’s.

The theatre was sold in the early-1980’s to theatre organist Dr. Edward “Eddy Baker” Bebko whom operated under several business names. Key Theaters and Saled Properties.

On February 14, 1989 the theatre became the property of the Niagara Frontier Theatre Organ Society; a group which had been maintaining the Wurlitzer theatre organ since the early-1960’s.

Following the theatre’s purchase, the organ society, manned entirely by volunteers began the enormous task of restoring the theatre to its opening night granduer.

The seats have been reupholstered, the auditorium, lobby, and all public areas repainted, dressing rooms restored, new AC and electrical service, sound and lights, new carpeting. And the work continues, all performed by an amazingly dedicated group of volunteers, all with a undying love for this historic showplace.

The theatre is currently operated by the society as a rental house. The only programs produced by them are the monthly organ concerts, which have been going strong for almost 40 years.

The theatre’s resident theatre company, NFLT (Niagara Falls little Theatre) provides regular offerings of plays and musicals.

Other events include various local theatre company productions, live concerts, dance recitals, children’s films, weddings and tours complete with organ demonstration and short silent film.

Contributed by Cory Wright

Recent comments (view all 91 comments)

LouB
LouB on August 10, 2010 at 9:18 pm

View link

The above website deals with an award given to the volunteers at the Riviera by a local preservation group.

psmith102006
psmith102006 on January 28, 2011 at 1:53 am

I recently went to the Riviera in the evening. The marquee lit the whole street up. What a neat site, and I wasn’t even in the theater yet!!!

LouB
LouB on January 30, 2011 at 5:42 pm

View link

The above article from the Buffalo News spotlights the Riviera.

LouB
LouB on February 7, 2011 at 4:42 am

View link

The above website shows a fantastic view of this classic theatre.

LouB
LouB on January 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm

link

This link deals with a grant the theater has received

LouB
LouB on July 13, 2013 at 4:14 am

link

The link above deals with expansion at the theatre.

LouB
LouB on October 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm

article

This article deals with renovations being made at the theatre.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on November 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Here’s an update on renovation of the marquee: Buffalonews

hammerglenn
hammerglenn on December 16, 2013 at 2:39 am

Saw many Hammer horror and beach party movies here in the ‘60’s.

SexySadie
SexySadie on March 30, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I think this is where we saw THE MUPPET MOVIE in 1979

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater