Keystone Avenue, Hawley The Ritz Theater in Hawley was built in 1935 by M.E.Comerford to replace the Dreamland theater on Church Street that had been destroyed by fire. Constructed in the Art Deco style of that time, it opened on Christmas Day in 1935 showing "Paddy O'Day" starring Jane Withers. Until the theater closed in 1970 two films were shown daily, with week-end matinees, and sometimes vaudeville performances. In 1973 a local group headed by Dick and Peg Murphy and Ed Buckmaster leased the vacant building and organized the Ritz Company Players. They opened with "Brigadoon" in July 1973. By 1976, talk of the theater being torn down for a parking lot inspired the group to purchase the building. More than two hundred plays have been presented since that time, with local volunteers supplying all the musical and acting talents, direction, staging, lighting, costumes, and make-up. Over the years extensive renovations have taken place. Historically accurate work has been done on the box office and exterior display cases. Described at its opening as "strikingly beautiful and modern in every detail" the Ritz today is a fine example of Art Deco, and of the amazing accomplishments of a large and dedicated group of local theater lovers. Their work continues to delight us all.
This page was one month of the calendar and was made possible through the Wayne County Commissioners and a Tourism Promotion Committee’s Tourism Grant.