Artists in Action: New season at the Ritz
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
Oct 14, 2012 | 3462 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“The Ritz is back,” declares Ritz Theatre Executive Director George Culver, speaking of a new season and a flurry of civic and school involvement in the historic theater. “And it feels good,” he adds, with pride. “We’re presenting a multiple-show season, which we haven’t done in quite a while. We have 1,200 new seats in the balcony, purchased from Virginia Samford Theatre, and a brand new heating and cooling system. It’s an exciting time for the Ritz.”

Three productions that represent diversity in culture and music comprise the fall season. Fundraisers and movies, public forums and choir programs are filling the calendar. Culver will soon be announcing the spring season. Considering all of the activity and optimism — which goes along well, actually, with the content of the the fall musicals — this is a season of new beginnings at the Ritz.

In the “The Color Purple,” we explore how one finds the strength to triumph over adversity as the character Celie does in a difficult time period for African-Americans. Its music features jazz, ragtime, gospel, African music and blues. The production comes from the Red Mountain Theatre Company of Birmingham. As noted in the season brochure, this stage adaptation may not be suitable for young audiences.

The two performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m.

“The Heart Behind the Music” is next, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 9 only, at 7:30 p.m. Featured as a songwriter’s showcase, it promises to be a close-up and personal evening of country, gospel and popular music hits, delivered by the four artists themselves.

Hosted by Teddy Gentry of the legendary group Alabama, the stage will feature both the established and the new in these realms of music, Culver said.

“Billy Dean and Larry LeBlanc have a rich list of original songs to their credit. Sam Hunt, the former UAB quarterback, just wrote a number one hit this summer for Kenny Chesney titled ‘Come Over.’ All in all, this is a concert about hope, straight from the heart.”

Finally, “Fiddler on the Roof” presented Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m., speaks for itself in the field of American musical theater, according to Culver.

“What can you say that hasn’t already been voiced about these great, familiar songs, and the powerful, uplifting story about a family in Russia in 1905 that survives against the odds?” The Ritz was able to book this performance in the new national tour of the show, according to the theater brochure. It will be an evening of music and dance, with strong elements of humor, warmth and honesty — and tradition.

Tickets can be purchased by mail, (P.O Box 228, Talladega, AL 35161) by phone (256-315-0000) and online at

JOT goes to Washington

The newest venue for Jacksonville Opera Theatre’s “The Fisher, the Fish and the Wife” is 713 milies away from Jacksonville. It’s in Washington, D.C., where the musical’s cast performed Thursday morning for the Children’s National Hospital. Also, members of the cast were interviewed on a local television channel there.

The performance was arranged by the JSU Alumni group in Washington, according to Nathan Wight, director of JOT.

The group will sing for the alumni group while in the city and then see the opera “Don Giovanni,” one of Mozart’s most famous works, at Washington National Opera .
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Artists in Action: New season at the Ritz by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star

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