“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, painting, and theatre are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”
– William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education
The Ritz has provided live theatre opportunities for students and teachers in the tri-state region for almost three decades. Student audiences experience a one-hour performance that develops an appreciation for live performance, teaches theatre etiquette, encourages self-expression, inspires self-confidence and promotes imaginative thinking. The Ritz connects students with their past as it is one of few former silent movie houses left in the region. (click here for history) All performances for children include a brief curtain talk that explains the Ritz’ architectural style, its history as a silent movie house, the introduction of “the talkies” and its conversion to a performing arts center.
Productions at the Ritz provide opportunities for your students to experience live performance in an intimate setting – not a vast auditorium. Children are guided to understand the important role of an audience – a role just as important as the actor and production staff. They learn how their response impacts the production for actors and other audience members. Why it is important to watch, listen and think.
Time Out for Theatre is TVAA’s program for the child audience. Two plays are performed annually: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in December; Charlotte’s Web in late April or early May. Time Out for Theatre is recommended for students 1st through 6th grade students.
The Ritz seats audiences of up to 350. Reservations are made on a first call basis.
Plays are performed at 9:00 and 10:30 am.
Admission for students and chaperones is $5 each.
One teacher receives complimentary admission with a group of 15 or more.
Special needs personnel hired by the school receive free admission.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I book a school group?
Reservations are required of all groups attending school performances. Notice of performance dates are mailed to schools at the beginning of each semester. Call 256-383-0533 to be added to the mailing list, to make reservations or to inquire about performances. Teachers are encouraged to make early reservations. The size of your group may be estimated and confirmed when pre-payment is made.
My school group includes students with special needs. Do I need to make special arrangements?
Yes. The Ritz welcomes children of all abilities. Let us know if there are special provisions we can provide to help meet the needs of your students. Two wheel chairs and devices for the hearing impaired are available. We can also assist with special seating for the visually impaired.
What if additional parents want to come to the play?
You may bring additional parents to productions. However, for the protection of your students, only teacher-approved adults will be allowed into the theatre for school matinees. All reservations for chaperones and/or parents must be made by the teacher and paid for with the group payment. Payments are not accepted at the door.
Do you have a space where my group can eat lunch?
We are sorry, but the Ritz does not have lunchroom facilities, nor are we able to store bag lunches. You may have lunch or snacks at neighboring city parks before or after your visit (weather permitting).
If we arrive earlier than our scheduled appointment, is there a place we can wait to be seated?
Due to the number of groups scheduled throughout the morning, we do not have space inside the theatre for groups to wait to be seated. We ask that you arrive fifteen to twenty minutes prior to your scheduled performance. The Traffic Control Officer will direct you in case of inclement weather.
Group Policy for Entering & Seating.
Our entry and exiting procedures are designed to keep your group together. Please follow the directions of Ritz personnel. Students enter and exit the Ritz single file and are seated on a first come basis. No skipped seats. Groups are assigned balcony or orchestra seats depending on numbers and ages. Children love our balcony that extends over the orchestra and has the feel of box seats. The view of the stage and the acoustics are excellent.
If you have traveled a distance and need to access the Ritz restrooms before your group is admitted, we can accommodate small groups of 8 to 10 that must accompanied by an adult and re-join their class outside the theatre. The house manager and/or traffic manager will direct you. Once your group is escorted into the theatre, we ask that you wait to access the restrooms until after you are seated.
How long are we allowed to stay in the Ritz?
The Ritz does not offer a place for groups to gather before or after a scheduled performance. Classes exit at the end of performances as directed by the Ritz management. Buses and vans are parked within walking distance. The House Management will direct you in case of inclement weather.
Is it possible to talk with a Ritz representative prior to my tour?
Of course. If you have a general question you may contact the Art Association’s Administrative Assistance from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 256-383-0533.
When is admission due?
Admission is payable in advance, generally two weeks prior to the performance for which you have reserved. Group payment, including chaperones and parents, may be made by check, credit card, or purchase order. Checks should be mailed to:
The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art
P. O. Box 474
Tuscumbia, Alabama 35674
After the stated remittance date, we do not offer refunds or credits for prepayments or pre-cut checks if the number in the group is less than the prepaid amount. Refunds will be made if inclement weather prohibits travel from your school or if a performance is cancelled due to an act of God.
Is there a place for buses or vans to park at the Ritz?
Yes. A Ritz traffic manager will direct buses and vans to reserved street parking that is a short walk to the Ritz. Special needs buses may off-load and pick-up in front of the Ritz. In case of inclement weather, the Ritz traffic manager will determine if buses should off-load and pick-up in front of the theatre.
What do I need to know in advance of my visit?
- Teachers and/or chaperones are responsible for the behavior of their groups at all times.
- Classes will enter and exit the Ritz single file, one group at a time. To keep your group together, please follow the instructions by Ritz personnel.
- Students should enter the theatre with those they will sit beside. Please make adjustments before entering the theatre to expedite time for seating. Rearranging children once they are in the theatre slows down the seating process and can cause delays in beginning the performance.
- Running and rough play are prohibited.
- The Ritz chairs are 1940s period and part of the history of the theatre. They are strong and well suited for the child audience but children should not bounce on the seats.
- Food (including gum and candy) and drinks are prohibited.
- Photography or videography by any device is not permitted. All electronic devices must be turned off during performances as the light is distracting to actors and other audience members. In an emergency, texting and phone calls may be made from the Encore Room that is adjacent to the auditorium.
- To ensure the safety of your students, large bags and purses, umbrellas, shopping bags, backpacks, sports equipment, musical instruments, luggage, cameras, are not allowed and should be left on buses or in the trunks of cars. Ritz staff has the authority to disapprove other objects. Umbrellas may be left at the door but the Ritz is not responsible for their oversight.Please make the house manager aware of oversized equipment required for special needs.
- Resource materials that will help you prepare your students for the production will be emailed to teachers prior to and following performances.
Lost and Found.
Call the office at 256-383-0533 if you discover something has been left during your visit.
Inform the nearest docent or staff member if you require first aid or if a child needs to leave the auditorium because of illness.
In the event of an emergency, follow the directions of Ritz staff or volunteer. They have been trained to respond in a manner that will keep your group together.
Things to discuss with your students.
We encourage you to discuss the performance, theatre policies and the historic significance of the Ritz with your students prior to your trip.
How to be a good audience.
The Ritz is a place for observing, thinking, and appropriate response to performance. As an audience, your students are an important part of the production – just as important as the actors and production personnel. Conversation between students or between adults during performances are disturbing to actors and other audience members. Children should be reminded to talk softly before the performance begins; to sit quietly, watch and listen carefully during the performance; to laugh and applaud appropriately. Remind them that the house lights will be dimmed during the performance.
Respect the historic Ritz:
Please remind students of items that are prohibited during performances and why. The Ritz is part of their history and we ask them to take responsibility for preserving it for future generations.