Ritz Theater Restoration
Original 8'' x 8'' Men's Room.
Newly Constructed Men's Room 2003
Original 8'' x 8'' Women's Room.
Newly Constructed Women's Room 2003
For its first ninety years, the public restroom facilities for the Ritz theater have been a point of considerable interest because they were woefully inadequate for an audience of even a modest size. They were located in the extreme southern corners of the auditorium with doors that actually opened into the room. Both were considered "one holers" but the men's room actually had a urinal along with its ordinary residential style commode. The lady's room was equipped with a single residential style commode. Both had a single sink and neither had hot water available during the last ten or fifteen years that they were in use. Parke Players annual Covered Bridge Festival melodrama have been the only events to routinely sell out in recent decades selling an average of 2000 seats during the ten day festival. One or two of the annual summer musical productions have had sold out shows since 1991. The melodrama attendees are 90% out of town visitors while the summer musical patrons are roughly 90% local citizens.
The theater seated 450 during the sellout melodrama years and the thousands of visitors that attended the productions were all but certainly shocked and appalled by the crude facilities during their first visit but most came to accept them as quaint and just another aspect of small town life. A full house attending a three act production would have to have extended intermissions to facilitate the considerable lines outside of the restrooms. The poorly equipped concession area didn't help either but the restroom lines were legendary. The Ritz Theater operates as a cinema during the weeks of the year that there are no stage productions. The average size of a cinema audience is between sixty and eighty people with crowds swelling to two hundred plus when a block buster comes to town. Hometown movie goers seldom experienced the inconvenience presented by the size of the original restrooms for the most part and rarely complained about the facilities in general. The new facilities were opened to the public on Friday, October 10th 2003 for the first of ten days of Covered Bridge Festival entertainment.
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