Friday, April 25, 2008

Berwyn's theater history from Alexander

Thanks to Alexander for setting the record straight about the history of theater in Berwyn!

"I wanted to say, once again, how much we enjoyed the play Saturday night. I was really affected by the characters and I can't quite get them out of my mind. I felt an empathy with them, and it makes you want to fall in love all the time. The use of music between scenes was very effective and the selections were perfect. I haven't heard "Let's all go to the Lobby" since I was about eight years old at the Ritz Theater.

For your information, the 16th Street Theater is not the first in Berwyn ( I hope you don't get mad at me). The Berwyn Theater (originally the Parthenon) at Ridgeland and Cermak and the Ritz Theater on Roosevelt and Ridgeland were originally legitimate theaters for many years, long before they started showing movies. They even had dressing rooms for all the actors. I guess you can say that 16th Street is the first theater in town in 75 years or the first in the "Modern Era."

There were actually four theaters in town: the Ritz, the Roxy, the Oakwyn and the Berwyn (Parthenon). The Oakwyn was on Roosevelt and Grove and was owned by a friend of our family. My father and uncle's ice cream parlor was right next door (where Homescape is today). The Roxy was in the Depot area on 33rd and Grove (across the street from Salerno's). I don't know if the Oakwyn and the Roxy had live theater. It is possible that they did. For sure the Ritz and the Berwyn ( Parthenon) were legitimate theaters. The Parthenon was built by a friend of my father's named Andrew Karzis. He is the one who built the Aragon Ballroom on the north side.

You know that the Olympic Theater on Cermak and Lombard in Cicero has been remodeled and looks the way it did in the 30's. This was also built as a theater and remained so for many years before movies were shown. This is a beautiful place."
- Alexander Rassogianis

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