Three Rivers Commercial News | Samantha May, Staff Writer
THREE RIVERS ― The Riviera Theatre underwent over $1 million in renovations to prepare for its grand opening on Aug. 22, 2008, over a decade ago.
Owner Bruce Monroe said that after purchasing the building in the summer of 2005, the much-needed renovations took roughly three years. Afterwards, the Riviera soared with improved electrical and plumbing, a new HVAC for heat and air conditioning, a reliable building structure, 370 upgraded seats, and a completely new roof, which took nearly 4-6 months of construction to complete. Monroe also purchased the neighboring storefront during the three-month renovation, and remodeled the room into a bar and seating area.
“There was hardly a square-inch in that entire building that didn’t see some kind of treatment, even if that means it just got repainted,” Monroe said.
During the grand opening, the theatre was still without a sound system for its “opening act” Verve Pipe, but Monroe ensured that the show went on. The Riviera borrowed a sound system from its “big brother”, the Kalamazoo State Theatre, resulting in a sold-out performance.
Although a complete restoration of the theatre took place in 2008, the Riviera has been a Three Rivers landmark for much longer. The Riviera first opened in 1925. Monroe’s great-uncle Luther Warner was the first manager of the theatre, Monroe’s grandmother played piano to “set the mood” during silent films, and Monroe’s mother held dance recitals on the Riviera stage and instructed choreography up until she married Monroe’s father in the early 1940s and moved away.
“In the early years, they pretty much lived down at the theatre” he said.
A few months following the successful grand opening in 2008, Monroe’s mother passed away, and the Riviera held a wake in her honor.
“I felt my mother’s spirit in the theatre that day,” he said.
Monroe recalled that the theatre had only been closed and without an owner for about three or four years in the 1960s, and then again in 2000 until Monroe purchased the theatre in 2005.
Danielle Moreland has been employed as general manager of the theatre since 2008. She said it has been a pleasure to host a variety of different event throughout the years, including performance from Grammy nominated artists and upcoming talents, screenings of award-winning independent films, such as Warren Miller’s Ski Series, and occasionally broadcasts of sporting events, but renting out the Riviera for special events are her favorite.
“Whether we are hosting a masquerade ball or offering a home-brew contest to support local charities or being a part of someone’s wedding, birthday, or retirement celebrations, it is heart-warming to be involved in our customers’ memories,” Moreland said.
“We raise a glass to all of our amazing staff, and to all of our fantastic supporters and customers that keep the Riviera moving forward. It is because of you that we were able to add a kitchen and now offer delicious pizzas, crostini, and charcuterie boards. In order to celebrate this past decade, we have hosted a Summer of Tributes series, from Buddy Holly and Gordon Lightfoot to 1964 The Tribute coming soon on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, and Legends in Country on Sept. 22. We are humbly grateful to our community who continues to support the work we do and enjoy the shows we put on. Thanks to your for the past 10 years, we are looking forward to (the years to come).”