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Sheffield’s Ritz Theatre brings stage to screen

SHEFFIELD — The Ritz Theatre here opened in 1927 during the silent-movie era. This month, the movies scheduled for the big screen are anything but silent. 

Every Thursday evening in May, The Ritz will host the “Stage-to-Screen” film series featuring some of the most beloved Broadway-musicals-turned-movies.

“We are getting ready to launch our summer theatre season and we thought this film series would be a good warm-up for our audience,” said Jennifer Butler Keeton, Director of Public Affairs and Marketing for the Tennessee Valley Art Association. 

After two decades as a movie house, The Ritz went out of business in 1951. The Tennessee Valley Art Association bought the space in 1985, restored the theatre’s Art Deco style, and moved the TVAA performing arts programs there.

This season’s TVAA summer stock selection is “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and cast members will introduce each film in the “Stage-to-Screen” series. 

First up, this Thursday, is the 2012 version of “Les Miserables,” starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, and Helena Bonham Carter. Hathaway won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance as Fantine.

Next, on May 12, The Ritz brings “Chicago” to Sheffield. This 2002 adaptation won Best Picture and stars Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Richard Gere. Zeta-Jones won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Velma.

May 19 features the mystery of “The Phantom of the Opera” – the 2004 version stars Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum and is based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

Finally, the series closes with “Rent” on May 26. This 2005 adaptation, based on the groundbreaking musical by Jonathan Larson, stars six of the original Broadway cast members reprising their roles: Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Jesse L. Martin, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Taye Diggs, and Idina Menzel, who your kids will recognize as Elsa in “Frozen.” For more background on composer Larson, catch “Tick, Tick … Boom!” currently playing on Netflix. 

The “Stage-to-Screen” series is just the beginning for The Ritz this summer.

“We are planning a ‘Second-Chance Blockbusters’ series with movies you may have missed during the pandemic,” Butler Keeton said. “And on weekdays, we will offer family matinees.” 

The organization is holding video auditions for gospel choirs to perform during the W.C. Handy Festival in July.

“The top three will perform at a Handy Fest showcase at The Ritz and will share in 50 percent of ticket sales,” Keeton said. She estimated that each choir could receive about $2,500.

All “Stage-to-Screen” show times are 7 p.m. and doors open at 6:30. Tickets for each film are $10. There are also $30 passes for all four films. Concessions will also be available at the show. Visit the Tennessee Valley Art Association website to purchase tickets. https://tennesseevalleyarts.ticketspice.com/stage-to-screen-series-spring-2022 

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