Each season, the Ritz presents seven mainstage productions and eight Ritz Kidz children’s theatre shows, plus special events, an intensive summer theatre camp, two Ritz Stage Starz youth productions, and Black Box theatre festivals in January and June. We serve more than 30,000 patrons each year.
Over the years, we’ve shared powerful classics and thrilling dramas, great American musicals, and evenings of dance, poetry, and song.
Our home, located at 915 White Horse Pike in Haddon Township in South Jersey, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Intimate and ornamental, the 334-seat Ritz is the only theater in the area still resplendent in its original decor. The architecture is Greek revival with 25-foot-high neo-classical canvas murals on the auditorium walls, gilt-trimmed columns, and classic carved balustrades.
Over the years, we’ve shared powerful classics and thrilling dramas, great American musicals, and evenings of dance, poetry, and song. We’ve won many awards, including two Emmys, and collaborated with great artists such as Stephen Schwartz. We’ve been supported by many generous organizations, corporations, and foundations and, of course, by our subscribers who have enabled us to remain committed to the arts, to the artists who create it, and to the millions who have made The Ritz a destination.
1927 — The Ritz Theatre opens as a vaudeville movie house and quickly becomes the focal point of the community.
1950s and 1960s — The Ritz gains renown for its fine art and foreign film screenings, drawing audiences from Philadelphia and beyond.
1970s — The Ritz becomes a porno movie house.
1985 — A group of artists rescues The Ritz, renting the space and performing live plays and musicals under the company name, Puttin’ On The Ritz, and makes the Ritz Theatre their home.
1986 — The first Ritz season opens with The Boyfriend. The character “Ritzy” debuts as the host of the theatre’s children’s productions in an ongoing series titled The Adventures of Ritzy the Wolf.
1990 — A shadow interpretation performance of Children of a Lesser God begins our commitment to ASL-interpreted productions to make theatre more accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
1993 — The Ritz wins a Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award for The Adventures of Ritzy the Wolf.
1994 — The Ritz assumes non-profit status and wins a second Emmy Award for The Adventures of Ritzy the Wolf.
1995 — Broadway composers Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt collaborate with The Ritz on a new version of their 1960s avant-garde musical Celebration and attend opening night.
1997 — Sweeney Todd receives three Philadelphia Barrymore Award nominations, for Best Musical, Best Director, and Best Female Lead, the latter of which actress Carol Furphy wins.
1998 — The YMCA honors The Ritz with The Johnson Award for Outstanding Community Service. Little Shop of Horrors receives four Barrymore nominations. Outreach programs at The Ritz also receive Barrymore nominations.
2000 — Thanks to a grant from Commerce Bank, The Ritz Gallery opens to exhibit artwork by fine artists in the Tri-State area.
2001 — The Ritz develops and premieres an original production, The Magick and the Music, incorporating magic and music by Stephen Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz performs at a luncheon in his honor. An original musical adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is chosen as the entertainment for the South Jersey Cultural Alliance Encore Awards dinner in Atlantic City. The Ritz receives a $175,000 Cultural Enrichment Grant from the State of New Jersey.
2002 — We adopt the name “The Ritz Theatre Company” and officially purchase the theater. The theater is listed on both The New Jersey State and National Register of Historic Places. Camden County Parks contracts The Ritz to produce The Rhythm of America From Hollywood to Broadway with the City Rhythm Orchestra at Cooper River.
2003 — Our cast of 1776 performs at the Grand Opening of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
2005 — Our 20th Anniversary Season! We hire our first Equity Guest Artist, Mr. Fred Inkley, to play the lead in Jekyll and Hyde.
2010 — A grant from PNC’s Arts Alive initiative for our area premiere of Spamalot allows us to produce a DVD of the production to promote Shadow Interpreting as a positive way of introducing the deaf and hard-of-hearing public to theatre.
2011 — We break all box office records with our production of Hairspray. We receive an Innovator Award for our Shadow Interpreting program from the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the community members of the Cultural Access Network of New Jersey Project, a co-sponsored program of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
2012 — We debut the Camden County June Theatre Festival, producing 28 performances in 30 days. Our friends at PNC fund a free-to-the-public encore production of Barnum in Camden’s Wiggins Park.
2014 — We raise $100,000 in a social media campaign to “Save the Ritz.” We produce our first-ever fundraising variety show, Rock the Ritz, and our first-ever all-kids musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.
2015 — Our 30th anniversary season! We open the season with an original musical called The Opening, celebrating the 30 best musical numbers of the theatre’s past 30 years.
2020 — Our 35th anniversary season! We celebrate 35 years of magic and imagination with The Inaugural Ritzy Awards, a festive awards gala honoring the 2019 season and your favorite shows of the past 34 years!
2020 — Due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, The Ritz closes its doors for approximately 15 months, but the company continues to press on by producing a wide variety of virtual programming, including a “Virtual Summer Camp Extravaganza” for our young theatre artists and a highly successful “Gettin’ Back to Business Telethon” featuring dozens of favorite Ritz performers. During the pandemic, The Ritz also unveils a new “Diversity and Inclusion Statement” that reaffirms the company’s ongoing commitment to creating and cultivating a theatrical environment that is both reflective and supportive of the vibrant, multicultural community we serve.
2021 — The Ritz celebrates its “Grand Reopening” with a brand-new season of diverse plays and musicals, beginning with Once on This Island in September.