PHOTOS: Invitation-only event for ‘friends’ of Suffolk Theater

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Suffolk Theater hosted an invitation-only event to thank the people who helped out with the renovation.

The newly renovated Suffolk Theater in downtown Riverhead hosted an invitation-only preview event Friday evening for “friends of the theater.”

The event was to honor the theater’s workers, builders, sponsors and others from the community who helped during the renovation.

Suffolk Theatre owner Bob Castaldi was back at work at the theater by 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

“I think it went great,” he said of Friday’s event, called “We Celebrate You.” He said that the day before, and even the morning of the event, there was “scaffolding up all over. People said ‘impossible’ when told it would be ready by Friday night.”

He estimates that the number of people there was in the low 200s.

One of those in attendance was was 83-year-old Geraldine Hulse of Aquebogue.

“I saw Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz here,” she said. “It was the first movie I ever saw. I was absolutely dumbfounded. I will always remember the beautiful ceiling.”

She called the restored theater “absolutely stunning.”

The theater was last open during the week of Sept. 24, 1987, when it showed the film, “Dirty Dancing,” according to ads in the News-Review at the time.

In the Oct. 1, 1987 News-Review, the Suffolk Theater ad said “Closed for the Season.”

It would actually be closed for the next 26 years.

Mr. Castaldi said they used Friday’s event to assess different things that worked and didn’t work.

One comment many people there had was that the music was too loud and it was difficult to talk to people.But the speakers used Friday night were not the speakers that will be used once the theater is fully constructed, Mr. Castaldi said.

The temporary speakers had to be blasted from the stage to make sure the sound reached the balcony, he said. Once completed, the theater will have “surround sound” speakers throughout the inside the building, “so the sound will be next to you,” he said.

Friday’s event featured live music from the Hackensack Men and the Trenton Horns.

The theater has upstairs and downstairs bars and people were even taking tours of both the men’s and ladies rooms Friday night.

Suffolk Theatre executive director Bob Spiotto has already got the month of March booked with 25 events, ranging from movies to concerts to plays.

“I think it’s going to be great if last night any indication,” Mr. Castaldi said.

The theater will host its grand opening celebration next Saturday, March 2. The  “Back to the 30′s” cocktail party tickets are priced at $125.

The event will feature Vince Giordano’s band The Night Hawks, which won a 2012 best compilation soundtrack Grammy for its work on HBO’s prohibition-era hit Boardwalk Empire.

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