The event of the year is upon us! Our favorite and most historic theatre is turning 81 this year, and we're celebrating the Ritz with a huge bash. Many of you attended last year's fabulous PICADILLY party, so you know what to expect. Erik Hokkanen, the brilliant multi-instrumentalist and one of Austin's greatest Jazzmen, is going to wow us with some traditional jazz performances on the stage. Alamo Chef Elijah Horgan has prepared a menu that'll fill you to the brim with happiness and delight. And champagne to top the night off!
But it all means nothing without the film. We're playing the greatest Al Jolson movie. We're playing the greatest coming of age movie. We're playing the greatest musical of the 1920s and the most influential motion picture in bringing talking people to movie screens ever. And that's not four different films, that's the monumental, the epic, the behemoth transgressive brilliance that is 1927s THE JAZZ SINGER. That's right, the film that schools teach and old people fondly remember is going to play at the Ritz on 35mm, wonderfully preserved by the people at Warner Brothers and on our gigantic screen to bring back the glory days of 1929 at our most cherished movie house.
Why are we playing THE JAZZ SINGER? The Ritz, before it became an Alamo (and even before it was a punk club), was a classic Hollywood theatre in the 1930s. It opened in 1929, at a time when the movies were in a great transitional period from silent cinema of the 1910s and 1920s to the "talkies" of every preceding decade. The people in charge made the right choice by having the Ritz be "wired for sound," meaning that the theatre would be one of the first destinations in Texas' state capital to play talking pictures. That was a good idea. And to celebrate this innovation in movie technology, we play the film that moved the sound pictures forward, the highest grossing and most popular early talkie. THE JAZZ SINGER played first-, second-, and sub-runs for years after its initial release, and its run at the Ritz in 1929 brought talking pictures to more Austinites than anything before it.
The other, very major reason we're showing THE JAZZ SINGER? Al Jolson is the man. Before Elvis, before Frank Sinatra, there was Jolson, the greatest entertainer of all time and a very cool cat. Check him out right here and tell me you don't get hot:
Look at those hips! Look at that movement! And how about the whistling? There's a whole lot more where that came from on Wednesday night.
Before the film, we'll be treated to the sweet music of Erik Hokkanen. Our renowned jazz artist and his band will be presenting some music before the festivities, as was the tradition in movie houses of the era. Hokkanen is an expert of traditional jazz and his sound will take you back to the roaring '20s. Here's a little taste of what this virtuoso has to offer:
And then, of course, there's Elijah Horgan's delightful menu:
1) Panzanella Salad with red wine vinaigrette
2) Braised Pork Roll with sausage, celery root, and potatoes
3) White Strawberry Mousse Cake We'll eat well, some very special guests will come to give us stories of the historic building, and we'll top the whole night off with a giant champagne toast.
That sounds like heaven. And you're invited to the party: