Ritz Theatre announces new season

The Ritz Theatre has lined up another season of performances for 2014-15, consisting of music, comedy, dance, community theater and family entertainment. Some favorite series will be back on the schedule with new features. They include Friday Night Live, Matinee Movies and Discovery Series. The Ritz Teen Thespian Guild and The Ritz Players are to add live stage productions to the mix. A country artist is expected to be added by next month.

Curtain time for all events is 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

The season

Michael Strong, executive director of The Ritz, said he is excited about the coming year.

“We’re happy with it. … We’re in for a good one,” he said. “We kick it off on Sept. 26 with the return of Three Dog Night. They were here about five years ago but sold the place out. It was a great show, and when I ask people what shows they’d like to see again, Three Dog Night is mentioned all the time.”

Three Dog Night, Sept. 26

Three Dog Night celebrates its fourth decade with some astonishing statistics for popular music. From 1969-74, no other group achieved more Top 10 hits, moved more records or sold more concert tickets.

The band’s hits wind through the fabric of pop culture today, whether on the radio, in TV commercials or in major motion pictures. Songs include “Mama Told Me (Not To Come),” “Joy to the World,” “Black and White,” “Shambala” and “One.”

Friday Night Live

Strong said the previous season of Friday Night Live had a lot of variety, including some artists performing at The National Theatre for the first time.

The series begins Oct. 3, with additional Friday shows set for Nov. 7, Dec. 19, Jan. 9, Feb. 7, March 6, April 3 and May 1. Each show is an eclectic selection of artists in an unplugged venue.

Each show will feature two or three regional entertainers which may include a folk singer, a jazz musician, an aspiring singer/songwriter or some other style of artist passionate to showcase his or her talents.

The Classics IV, Oct. 11

“You may not recognize the name, but you’ll recognize this song,” Strong said as he played “Spooky.” “Dennis Yost, who founded the group and was the lead vocalist, passed on a number of years ago, but these are musicians he hand-picked before he died to carry on the legacy.”

A popular and influential group of the ’60s and ’70s, The Classics IV began in the late 1950s when young drummer Yost formed a band with a few high school classmates. Their first hit, “Spooky,” skyrocketed to the top of the music charts.

The group compiled 16 Billboard chart hits, including “Stormy,” “Every Day With You Girl” and “What Am I Crying For.”

Golden Age of Hollywood

The Golden Age of Hollywood matinee movie series continues its nostalgic journey with the movies that played an integral role in the history of The Ritz.

Strong said the movie series has attracted a large audience of senior citizens from area housing facilities and senior centers. The movies return monthly at 2 p.m. Wednesdays.

This year’s films feature “great leading men” of classic Hollywood films, including Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda,

James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable and Fred Astaire.

“If you’re looking for the cream of the crop from that era, we pretty much have it here,” Strong said.

Huey Lewis and The News, Oct. 17

Huey Lewis and The News is one of America’s most popular rock ‘n’ roll bands. As the band enters its 35th year, its brand of music has outlasted countless trends and continues to draw audiences worldwide.

The band has sold more than 20 million albums, with hits such as “Power of Love,” “The Heart of Rock n Roll,” “I Want a New Drug,” “If This Is It” and “Workin’ for a Livin’.”

“We’ve been trying for this for a long time. This is going to be a lot of fun. It’s a very entertaining show. They still sound great. Huey Lewis still fronts the band, and he’s still got a lot of original members with him,” Strong said.

“An Evening of One-Act Plays”

The Ritz Teen Thespian Guild has slated “An Evening of One-Act Plays” for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 and 22 and a matinee at 2 p.m. Nov. 23.

The guild will offer five short plays with a range of subject matter for an evening of drama and comedy. Included is an outer-space play by science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, a comical consideration of cockroaches, two modern pieces that examine contemporary problems, and a version of “Romeo and Juliet” written in the style of Dr. Seuss.

The Texas Tenors, Dec. 12

After taking the nation by storm in 2009 during “America’s Got Talent,” The Texas Tenors has played 600 concerts worldwide with a blend of country, gospel, classical and Broadway music.

The group is to bring its “Deep In The Heart of Christmas” program to The Ritz.

“They came in fourth place overall, but they were, they are, just terrific. Three guys sing country western music in an operatic style, but they also do some classical stuff,” Strong said.

Nobodies of Comedy, Jan. 24

A fan favorite, the “Nobodies” are back with a new lineup of comedians.

These “rising stars in the funny business” may not be familiar, but that’s about to change, Strong said.

The show is intended for mature audiences only.

Scarab: The Journey Experience, Feb. 20

“On every Journey album, there’s a little beetle, a scarab, so this is a tribute to the band Journey,” Strong said.

Scarab’s live stage show recreates Journey’s signature four-part harmonies, with all the sights, sounds and songs that made Journey famous during the ’70s and ’80s.

Southern Fried Chicks, March 7

The Southern Fried Chicks’ Cage-Free Comedy Tour features Etta May, Sonya White and Karen Mills.

According to Strong, this is like the Blue Collar Comedy Tour but with better hair and bigger attitude.

Glenn Miller Orchestra, March 8

This 2 p.m. program brings the popular big band group back for its third appearance at The Ritz.

The present orchestra was formed in 1956 and has been touring consistently since, playing an average of 300 dates a year around the world.

The Lennon Sisters, April 12

For 13 years on “The Lawrence Welk Show,” the Lennon Sisters charmed the nation with sweet-voiced harmonies and hits such as “Tonight You Belong To Me” and “Sad Movies (Make Me Cry).”

Strong said the three surviving sisters – Janet, Kathy and Mimi – still sound “as good as they did on the ‘Lawrence Welk Show.'”

The program begins at 2 p.m.

Jay and the Americans, April 18

Started by four teenage boys in a Brooklyn basement 50 years ago, Jay and the Americans is one of the lasting success stories in rock history.

From 1962-1971, the group charted 12 Top 10 records. The current foursome includes three original band members.

Their hits include “Tonight” (from “West Side Story”), “She Cried,” “Only In America,” “Come A Little Bit Closer,” “Cara Mia” and “This Magic Moment.”

trideaDANCE, April 25

The resident dance collaborative of The Ritz, trideaDANCE, is to return for its ninth spring performance with a new program.

Through innovative movement trideaDANCE explores the quirks and intricacies of everyday life and strives to make dance accessible and enjoyable to a variety of audiences.

Thomas Pandolfi, April 26

“Thomas Pandolfi played here a few years ago. He did an all-Gershwin program. He was the first one that … we put the camera over the keyboard so you could actually watch his hands play,” Strong said.

The young American pianist’s appearances often feature Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Liszt, Rubinstein and Moszkowski. In the “pops” genre, Pandolfi is considered a leading interpreter of George Gershwin.

Showtime is 2 p.m.

The Ritz Players

“Moon Over Buffalo” by Ken Ludwig. Performances are slated for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and 8, and 2 p.m. Nov. 9.

In the madcap comedy tradition of “Lend me a Tenor,” “Moon Over Buffalo” centers on George and Charlotte Hay, fading stars of the 1950s. At the moment, they’re playing “Private Lives” and “Cyrano De Bergerac” with five actors. On the brink of a disastrous split-up caused by George’s dalliance with a young ingenue, they receive word they might just have one last shot at stardom: Frank Capra is coming to town to see their matinee. If he likes what he sees, he might cast them in his movie remake of “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”

Unfortunately for the couple,

everything that could go wrong does go wrong.

“Christmas on Broadway” by Rick Lewis, 2 p.m. Dec. 14.

A group of wide-eyed wannabe actors are snowbound in a shuttered Broadway theater on Christmas Eve. With nothing but a few trunks filled with costumes, props and set pieces, they live out a shared dream – starring on Broadway.

Featuring local performers and blended with seasonal classics from Broadway shows and composers, the evening offers Christmas magic.

“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” by Steve Martin. Shows are set for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13, 14 and 21 and 2 p.m. Feb. 22.

This absurdist comedy places Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso in a Parisian cafe in 1904, just before the renowned scientist transformed physics with his theory of relativity and the celebrated painter set the world afire with cubism.

In his first comedy for the stage, Martin plays fast and loose with fact, fame and fortune as these two geniuses muse on the century’s achievements and prospects as well as other fanciful topics with infectious dizziness.

“Belles” by Mark Dunn. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. May 8, 9 and 16 and a matinee is at 2 p.m. May 17.

Told in “two acts and 45 phone calls,” “Belles” visits six southern sisters who, over the course of an autumn weekend, seek to bridge the physical and emotional distance between them via the telephone. In the process, they come to terms with their shattered family history.

One more Ritz Players production is pending confirmation to be added for summer 2015.

Discovery Series

Enchantment Theatre Co. presents “The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon.” Performances are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Nov. 13.

“One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.” So begins the zany adventures of an inventive young boy in the first of seven books by Crockett Johnson that have captivated young readers for more than 50 years.

Combining life-size puppets, masks, magic and music, Enchantment Theatre Company will take the audience on a wild ride that celebrates the creative spirit of children and how they see the world.

Mad River Theater Works presents “Freedom Bound” 10 a.m. Feb. 17.

ArtsPower National Touring Theater presents “The Rainbow Fish.” Shows are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Feb. 24.

With her lovely coloring and shimmering scales, the Rainbow Fish is used to being the most beautiful creature in the ocean.

So, when the other fish ask for some silver scales, she refuses. How can she sacrifice the one thing that makes her so unique? But wise old Octopus persuades the Rainbow Fish to bestow some

of her gifts upon those around her, teaching her a lesson about the value of friendship.

ArtsPower National Touring Theatre from Verona, New Jersey, brings Marcus Pfister’s best-selling book to life with a magic mirror, exciting costuming and a delightful and touching musical score.

Ritz Teen Thespian Guild presents “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” 10 a.m. April 14.

“That will be put on by The Ritz Teen Thespian Guild, but as a Discovery Series event. Our hope is to tour it from school to school to give the kids experience performing in other venues,” Strong said.