Show debuts to full house

Published 3:56 pm Friday, April 27, 2012

Joni Thomas plays the part of Mama Odie during the performance of “Dig A Little Deeper.” Advocate Staff/Andy Brown

There wasn’t an empty seat to be found in the Ritz Theatre on Thursday night.

A capacity crowd crammed into the historic theatre for the opening night of the sixth-annual performance of “Putting on the Ritz,” a fundraiser for the Greenville Area Arts Council that helps generate the necessary funding to bring professional stage shows to the Camellia City.

But on Thursday, the stage and the spotlight belonged to local talent.

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“You’ve got to be a ham to do this,” Butler County Probate Judge Steve Norman said. “To get on stage and sing and dance in front of people you see every day, you have to be a ham. I’ll admit I’ve got a little bit of that in me.”

Norman was just one of about 60 Ritz Players to take part in the performance, which featured more than 20 musical numbers from classic Disney movies ranging from “Beauty and the Beast” to “Toy Story.”

Tom Payne, a Ritz Player who has performed in all six “Putting on the Ritz” shows, said this year’s show is the most elaborate to date.

“This is one of the biggest shows we have ever done,” Payne said. “The costumes are unbelievable. The music is fantastic and some of the most complex music we’ve ever done. It seems like each year the show’s get bigger and better.”

Amber Gross, a first-time Ritz Player and newcomer to Greenville, was surprised at the amount of talent in the show.

“I’ve been really impressed with how much talent is in this sleepy little town,” she said. “There are really some talented people in this show.”

The final performance of the three-night run is Saturday. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.