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Vaudeville acts on stage, the first actual talking movies on a big screen in South Texas, concerts by some of the best-selling music artists of all time including Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffet, Metallica, and many more. For much of its history, Chaparral Street has been the ultimate creative hub for Downtown Corpus Christi thanks to The Ritz Theatre. In addition to being one of the largest theatre palaces in Texas, The Ritz was declared to be “one of the finest in the state,” attracting Hollywood celebrities and government dignitaries with movie premieres and up-and-coming music acts from 1929 to the 1980s.
Fortunately, still retaining the same Art Deco and Spanish Renaissance architectural influences, The Ritz continues to be a symbol for entertainment, creativity, and growth. Currently open from 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm the first Friday of every month during the Corpus Christi Downtown Artwalk, anyone can sit in the original theatre seats and enjoy open mic performances by local artists on the same grand stage that held such notable acts as David Allen Coe, Bo Diddley, and Charlie Daniels. Guests can also tour the historic theatre, which may feel like a time-warp, perhaps hearing the ghostly sounds of song-and-dance routines from the 1930s, or the booming voices of on-screen Hollywood actors of the 1950s, or the maverick echoes of the emerging outlaw country movement of the 1970s.
For the past ten years, a nonprofit organization called CCPATCH (Positive Action Toward Culture Heritage) has been dedicated to restoring and developing The Ritz Theatre into a state-of-the-art entertainment venue of the highest quality. To garner support, they have hosted ghost-hunts, clean-up events, haunted house tours, Dia De Los Muertos altars, and many other volunteer events.Their recently released mission statement, called “The PATCH Manifesto,” calls for community-wide support to restore the building into a center for local artists to be nurtured with proper funding, recording space, and education.
So stay tuned, Corpus. The Ritz Theatre will eventually return as the entertainment nucleus for Downtown Corpus Christi.