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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Rivoli Theater series showcases local talent, raises funds for marquee

By Allison Ruef - reporter/photographer

Allison Ruef | Democrat
From left, Shlomo Franklin, with manager John Wylde and bandmates Joe Muller III and Allen Glenn, stand beneath the partially lit Rivoli marquee sign.
Built in 1923, the Rivoli Theatre in South Fallsburg is a cultural gem built in the art deco style of architecture and is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.
With this legacy worth preserving, the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop (SCDW) took ownership of the Rivoli Theatre in 1998. Since then, the group has worked tirelessly to lovingly restore it, investing what they can each year to make improvements and slowly bring it back to its former glory.
On the to-do list right now for the SCDW is the replacement of the marquee sign and vertical blade sign. The group applied for and received a New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation grant to do just that. However, the requirement of having to put up all monies for the project first, as is necessary for such “matching grants,” proved more of a challenge than the group had anticipated or were able to raise funds for.

Despite the setback and disappointment of losing the grant money, the SCDW is forging ahead with the project and having another go at raising the money to repair this irreplaceable sign. Fundraising has already begun with a series of concerts - the Rivoli Spring Concert Series.
On the weekend of May 8, Patti Greco kicked off the series with a performance that was pure Catskills - her soaring voice turning familiar classics into one-of-a-kind masterpieces, all the while entertaining the crowd with stories of her career and her life in Sullivan County. Throughout her performance, Greco's enchanting stage presence and incredible vocal range delighted the audience.
Opening for Greco was newcomer and Bethel native Shlomo Franklin and his band, an alt-country, roots-rock trio that sounds a lot like Beck meets Bob Dylan.
Franklin met Greco while browsing for a gift at her shop, the Funky Hippie Chic Boutique in Monticello. Noticing her guitar, he asked if she played and the two have been friends ever since, forging a bond over their mutual love of music and entertaining. “Don't let her fool you,” deadpanned Franklin, who is just 19 years old, “I taught her everything she knows.”
Invited by Greco personally to open her show, both she and Franklin agreed to donate what they earned that evening back to the Rivoli. “It was my way of saying ‘thank you' for keeping culture alive in Sullivan County,” said Greco.
“Most of my work puts me in front of audiences whom I don't know,” explained Greco. “What was so special about this performance was being able to entertain a room filled with familiar people, and the joy of sharing my style of entertainment which was born here in the Catskills, took me around the globe and right back home again - to the Rivoli. How cool is that?!”
The series continued all last weekend with four more bands - Moon Sauce featuring Darren Steele; On The Roxx; Carol Smith with Little Sparrow and the Sara Hulse Band.
When the spring concerts are over, be sure to check out a Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop performance - Death of a Salesman, Godspell and Fiddler on the Roof are all on tap (along with local brews) this summer.
“We are so fortunate that the Rivoli hasn't suffered the same fate that many of our beautiful local theaters have - by either falling into disrepair or being totally demolished,” said Greco. “We owe our support to the SCDW for breathing life back into this place and for helping to inspire, promote and help bring great entertainment to Sullivan County.”

Rivoli concert series continues this weekend
The Rivoli Spring Concert Series continues with concerts featuring the band Yasgur opening for Sullivan County Blues legend Slam Allen on Friday, May 15 and bands Lot 14 and Jazzmosis on Saturday, May 16.
Both shows start at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $10. For tickets and information, visit or call 845-436-5336.

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