News Local

Old Centre Theatre to take on glamorous new life as The Ritz

By Celina Ip

The old Centre Theatre located in downtown Pembroke, neighbouring the Pembroke Pawn Brokers. In 2018, the old theatre is expected to be fully revived as a dinner theatre: The Ritz.

The old Centre Theatre located in downtown Pembroke, neighbouring the Pembroke Pawn Brokers. In 2018, the old theatre is expected to be fully revived as a dinner theatre: The Ritz.

After nearly 30 years, the old Centre Theatre will be revived as a glamorous new dinner theatre in 2018.

 

From 1945 until 1990, Pembroke’s former Centre Theatre (located next to the Pembroke Pawn Brokers) was a lively movie theatre in downtown Pembroke.

Since closing in 1990, the old theatre has deteriorated to the point that it’s almost unrecognizable and has become a large eyesore among the newer and well-maintained buildings of downtown.

Despite constant talk among local residents about the need to have the building restored and given a new lease on life, property developers showed no interest in purchasing the dilapidated theatre.

It wasn’t until May of this year, nearly 30 years since the Centre Theatre was permanently shut down, that the old building received its second chance at life.

Soon after taking over ownership of the Grey Gables Inn this past May, Lisa and Rigo Borquez were touring Pembroke and upon spotting the old Centre Theatre they were quickly struck with a vision of turning it into a beautiful live theatre.

“I stood in the middle of the theatre and I looked up where I could see the sky and the pigeons. I thought to myself "okay, this is good, this will be a great challenge",” said Lisa. “We're real visionaries and true entrepreneurs. So we hardly had to think twice when we decided to buy it and turn it into something.”

The theatre will be called The Ritz and it will be modelled after the look of historic theatres such as the Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly known as the Canon Theatre) in Toronto.

“It'll be called "The Ritz" because the name has the flavour of the glitter and the glam,” said Lisa. “There’s a lot of work to be done to fix it up, but it will be gorgeous by the time we're done with it. We want to put a lot of wood in there and really make it classy and beautiful like the old-style theatres.”

Lisa expressed that their hope is to turn downtown Pembroke into an entertainment hub where people will be eager to shop and dine before sauntering over to The Ritz where they’ll enjoy comedy, live theatre or other exciting performances.

“It will be a dinner theatre where people will be able to come in and have a wonderful dinner, have wine and drinks and enjoy a beautiful live show,” said Lisa. “There could be Yuk Yuks and a variety of live performances. For example, I’m reaching out to a production company that’s in Halifax at the moment and it's a take-off of Mama Mia that’s called "Take A Chance On Me". So I'm trying to get that as our first live production and have it soon after we open in 2018.”

She added that the theatre will help to boost the local economy and bring the community together by attracting both locals and tourists to the area.

For those interested in following along with the progress of The Ritz, visit www.greygablesinn.ca/ where they'll be posting regular updates in the near future. The Ritz is set to open around September or October of 2018.

cip@postmedia.com