Ritz Theatre presents shows for kids, grownups


TIFFIN -- The Ritz Theatre has entertainment for adults and children this week as it presents Friday Night Live and the Velveteen Rabbit.

A singing-songwriting duo, a 16-year-old country music singer, and a pianist will showcase their talents Friday during Friday Night Live.

"We call it high-energy acoustic music because it's somewhere between folk, blues, and country; what I call the Bermuda Triangle since we don't fit into a specific genre," said Martin Koop, one half of the Tiffin Free Wild duo.

He and Steve Wilson play percussion and a plethora of other instruments including harmonica, piano, mandolin, and guitar. Their repertoire will include a number of original songs; Koop's written seven this year. This will be the duo's third year performing at Friday Night Live.

"It's just a terrific setting. It's an intimate setting where people really want to hear the songs. It's a place where music is foremost," he said.

That's what keeps performers and audiences coming back to Friday Night Live, now in its sixth year, said Michael Strong, Ritz executive director. " They love playing here because people actually listen. They are the primary focus, not ancillary activity. You can come in, have a glass of wine, beer, a cup of coffee. We put up bowls of popcorn on the tables and they just munch away. It's a very relaxed atmosphere."

Performances are once a month from October to May and started after Strong visited a Findlay coffee house open mic night. "I realized there was a lot of talent out there. Why not have one?"

The cabaret-style setting seats about 80 people. "For the audience it's nice because sometimes you don't want to spend $40 to be exposed to a different kind of art. That's a big risk. Tickets are $10."

Entertainment varies each month, he said. "We had a belly dancer in there, a comedian, someone who plays the bagpipes. We really try to mix it up."

Also slated to perform are Connor Rose, 16, of Bowling Green, and pianist Char Pope of Tiffin.

Rose has been singing in northwest Ohio venues including festivals and private functions for two years. His dad, Don Rose, provides bass and harmony. He recently recorded his first single, "Talkin and Textin," in Nashville.

Pope will perform a variety of original songs. She's been playing piano more than 30 years in churches, at weddings, and for community theaters. She released "The Shades of Evening" CD in 2006 and plans to release another CD in February.

Friday Night Live performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Ritz Theatre, 30 S. Washington St., Tiffin. Tickets are $10. Information: 419-448-8544 or ritztheatre.com.

The Ritz switches gears Tuesday to suit its younger audience members when a beloved plush rabbit wishes to become real in the Velveteen Rabbit.

The old Skin Horse tells the rabbit that only love can make it become real in this literary children's classic by Margery Williams. This Enchantment Theatre Company production includes large-scale puppets, magic, masks, and an original score to tell a tale of unqualified love and the innocence of childhood.

"Velveteen Rabbit" will be performed at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Ritz Theatre. Tickets are $4. Information: 448-8544 or ritztheatre.com.

Please send theater items at least two weeks in advance to jnjaim@theblade.com.