When the Suffolk Theater opened its doors for the first time on Dec. 30, 1933, the film "Footlight Parade" was playing on the big screen.
And now, to celebrate the Suffolk Theater's rebirth, it's time for an encore.
On Dec. 30, an "Encore" sneak preview party will be held at the Suffolk Theatre from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., where the Art Deco era will be recreated with a 1933-themed event, featuring signature drinks, a showing of "Footlight Parade," and music by the New Yorkers.
From the moment they first saw the former single-screen movie theater, which had been closed since 1987, owners Bob and Dianne Castaldi were infused with a burning passion to restore a piece of history -- the building is the only existing example of an Art Deco theater on Long Island -- and purchased the theater from Riverhead Town in 2005.
With an eye for detail, the couple has worked diligently to keep and restore elements of the original theater, including movie posters that adorn the walls of the lobby, chandeliers, crane-etched windows, a mosaic water fountain, molding, and woven fabric wall coverings, all of which capture the imagination of those entering and send them back into the grace and elegance of days gone by while opening the doors to a brand-new and innovative arts center that stands to transform downtown Riverhead.
Looking ahead, the goal is to create both tiered and cabaret seating, with a dance floor and expanded stage. The former projection booth has been transformed into a sky box that can be used for wedding parties; two bars will exist on the theater's two floors. Bathrooms upstairs have been meticulously restored and expanded.
Castaldi has hired Executive Director Bob Spiotto to helm programming and events at the theater. Down the line, in addition to live theater, musical performances, cabaret, country music, children's activities and film series, weddings and other events could also take place on-site, Castaldi said.