THE RITZ PRODUCTION FACILITY
Stage Left wing area with the original stained wood walls saved from the careless paint brushes that thoughtlessly painted over the artist's signatures from the early days on the makeup room walls and door. The left door is now a small restroom (the office sign is a prop) but was formerly a small dressing room. The door on the right was also a small dressing room but is now a hardware storage area and audio support room.
The " Tool Room" hardware storage and audio support for the cinema and house audio systems.
Cinema Audio: Ashly crossover, patch bay and Crown CE-2000 at left. House audio system : Altec 75v backstage amplifier, Crown CE-1000 stage monitor amplifier Bose EQ /crossover and Crown Power Base II house main amplifier.
The paint preparation area. Our paint is stored in an early 20th century coffin box used in the shipping of fine wooden coffins from their manufacturer in Seattle to a Rockville funeral home. The extreme right edge is visible on the left.
The SL scenery loft and wood rack in its all too common state of chaos.
SL stairway to and from the wardrobe loft.
Women's dressing room. The entire stage area is virtually covered with the signatures of cast members from dozens of shows over the years.
The men's dressing room. As often as not, appears to have been inhabited by a clan of Yeti.
The other end of the narrow "Jerome Room".
The room is carpeted with the 1937 Art Deco
carpeting from the Ritz lobbies
Behind the rear truss of the lighting grid are the authentic style drop rigging to which canvas backdrops were lashed. They were installed in 1969 and four excellent scenes
were created by Parke County sign painter Dick Hoggat. They are still in use today but are in the process of being restored.
SR "Jerome Room" used for lighting and technical support. Named for the company's perennial melodrama "villain" for fifteen years, Jim Jerome. Jim used the space as a dressing room during the annual fall shows. Jim's grandfather, Edgar Jerome, was the general contractor that built the Ritz Theater.
Dimmer Bay in the newly completed stairwell from the SL wing to the prop loft. A work in progress as funding permits. 2 Strand CD-80 24x2.4kw dimmer packs, an NSI IF 501 interface.
Newly created (2002) stairwell to the equally new west loft that houses the hand properties and stage lighting dimmer bay.
The house architectural dimming system stashed under SR stairs to the the stage dimming bay. Eight 20 amp circuits control all of the house and lobby lighting from four remote stations throughout the building during the year and through the DMX 512 signal stream during stage productions.
Newly constructed property loft in the west attic area of the second floor. Few places are as interesting as a good prop loft.
Wardrobe Loft. Built in 1993, it was the first of the second floor attic lofts. This picture was shot as the bi annual sorting and purging begins and the less useful clothes sent elsewhere. Well meaning citizens tend to drop off garments from their family estates. Some great stuff has come to us this way as well as clothing that a color blind gypsy wouldn't wear.
2012 Christie CP2210 Digital Cinema Projector W/auto lens & lens turret
GDC W/IMB SX-2000AR Digital Cinema Server
VNC Remote Connectivity Package
Aphex 107 preamplifier that drives the projector signal to the Ashly two way crossover and Crown amplifiers. A CE-2000 for the full range side fills and sub woofer in the house and the D-45 (above - top) that drives the center speaker array through an Altec passive crossover.
In the little room across the hall from the projection booth, are the marquee letters. This little room originally housed the rectifiers that converted AC current to DC for the carbon arc light sources for the original twin projectors.
The stage area at the Ritz Theater has undergone some changes over the last century that include the removal and replacement of the original stage house fly loft and the construction of a permanent 30 x 20 foot screen on the back side of the proscenium arch during the 1937 cinema remodeling. There was evidence that there had been a previous smaller screen stretched on a frame during the 1929 cinema fitting.
When the Rockville Chamber Of Commerce purchased the theater in 1969, the stage was pretty much a storage area filled with discarded fixtures and old audio components . Everything was covered with the dust of decades. Since one of the principle reasons that the Chamber Of Commerce had purchased the theater was to restore the stage for use in living theater, the screen made of porous panels was torn out and replaced with the first of the two retractable glass bead projection screens to be installed. The volunteers cleaned out the stage area and emptied the dressing rooms of the damaged seating and carpeting that had collected over the years.
The volunteers mopped and cleaned for a week before the painting of some of the block walls commenced. The stage was much more shallow than it is now since the apron over the orchestra pit had not yet been built. The footlights consisted of a series of porcelain lamp sockets mounted in a steel trough recessed in the stage lip and were in a state of disrepair. The lights were restored somewhat and the little stairwells leading directly up to either side of the stage from the house floor were removed. In 1969, there was not even a suggestion of stage lighting since the original wooden stage house had become weathered and removed in the1940's. The stage originally had a forty foot ceiling to accommodate the fly system to which the original stage lighting grid was attached. Since the stage was basically dead or at least in a deep sleep, there was no provision for stage lighting when the current 20 foot ceiling / roof was constructed. During the 1969 reawakening, the stage was fitted with crude commercial flood lighting for the first year or two and control was an even more crude series of residential toggle switches mounted on plywood in the stage right wing area. Bring on Spanky, Alfalfa and Petey.
The 30 x 20 foot proscenium curtain set installed in the 1940's was made of a translucent sheer fabric hanging on a motorized track operated from the projection booth. The Chamber Of Commerce had the control for the curtain motor bridged to work from either the projection booth or the new stage lighting control panel in order to open and close the curtain for stage productions. The stage end control switch had a stop position while the projection booth control simply opened or closed the curtain using the motor's internal cam assembly to automatically observe the open and close limits. Today the new 22 x 30 foot Da-Lite glass bead screen hangs in front of the curtain and automatically drops to a preset position before the presentation of every film. This screen was installed in January of 2001 and replaces the manually operated model of virtually the same size that was installed behind the proscenium curtain in 1969. That screen spent 95% of its time in the down position and became dingy and otherwise soiled within the first couple of years due to the misguided practice of cleaning the old theater floor with a leaf blower.
The 1969 Covered Bridge Festival entertainment was presented on the newly revived stage as "A Band Wagon Tour Of Parke County" written and directed by festival organizer Juliet Snowden. There was no offering for the annual Parke County Maple Fair the following spring but a sequel to "A Band Wagon Tour Of Parke County" played to enthusiastic crowds at the Ritz Theater on the Saturday nights during the 1970 Covered Bridge Festival. During the 1971 Maple Fair, the Parke County Chorus presented a program of their own creation at the Ritz . Maple Sugar Time was presented on both of the Maple Fair Saturday nights that spring and just a few weeks later, Parke Players was officially formed. The newly formed company presented their first production, "Ten Nights In a Barroom " during the 1971 Covered Bridge Festival that October. Parke Players formed a partnership with the Rockville Chamber Of Commerce that funded most of the improvements to follow. A detailed description of the improvements to the theater implemented by Parke Players over the years can be found on the Improvements To The Ritz by Parke Players page. In late 1971, the first significant improvement to the stage was the installation of a series of "T" bars made of galvanized pipe in the ceiling to serve as a grid for the first generation of stage lighting (eight six inch Altman Fresnels) purchased in 1972. In 1974, scenery lofts were built over the rooms on either side of the stage to accommodate the scenery flats and major props.
The theater's production facility has been greatly improved by the creation of two eighty foot by eight foot lofts in the east and west second floor attic spaces. Neither were originally suitable as attic space since they had none of the amenities. Like flooring, walls or lights. Just rafters and joists as well as an astounding amount of dust. In 1992, a few things were being stored in the spaces when a Fire Marshall found a can of mimeograph fluid, with all of the charm and properties of ether, stashed in one of them by the Chamber Of Commerce staff. " That’s it! Nothing can be stored in these spaces without fire resistant drywall and appropriate flooring " rebuked the shocked public servant. In 1993, the east attic space was finished to the specifications of the fire code and a new wardrobe loft was created. In 2002, Parke Players hired a contractor to do basically the same thing with the entire length of the west attic space. This new loft now houses the entire hand property inventory and stage lighting dimmer bay. To keep the memory of the unfinished space alive, we still have a massive "attic" space over the house that is exactly as it always has been.
©2015 - Andy Snowden, webmaster. Logo owned by Parke Players, Inc. 3
Stage lighting and audio control booth at the back of the auditorium. Denon CD/Cassette playback, Mackie audio mixer and Strand Series 300 stage lighting dimming system
1945 Simplex XL 35mm Projector ran every
film shown at the Ritz from 1945 until November