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San Patricio County theater directors fight to keep the doors open

Posted at 4:09 PM, Oct 01, 2020

ARANSAS PASS, Texas — There's a small theater in the Coastal Bend that's desperately trying to get its act together.

It's living out a real-life drama offstage in hopes of avoiding a final curtain call.

"It's a part of history, it's part of the history of Aransas Pass," said Russ Walker, Rialto Theater Director of Theater Operations. "We get stories all the time from people who say, 'Oh I had my first kiss in the balcony.'"

It's an iconic landmark that has been around for 83 years.

In 1975, it debuted the summer blockbuster movie "Jaws" and in that audience sat Kevin Williamson. That movie inspired him to pursue film directing.

Since then, Williamson has directed movies such as "Scream," "The Vampire Diaries" and the television show "Dawson's Creek." In "Dawson's Creek," the town's movie theater was named the Rialto.

The theater, like many others in the Coastal Bend, has fallen on hard times.

The curtain is in danger of closing forever, directors say.

"It would be terrible, it's devastating, I mean it's always been here," said Suzy Walker, Rialto Theater Director of Theater Operations.

The Walkers want to save the struggling theater.

A theater that has survived two hurricanes, recessions, and now a pandemic.

With community support, they hope to buy the Rialto, apply for grants, and produce more shows, musicals, and comedies.

"We've got big ideas, it's a small place and it's a small stage, but we've got big ideas," Walker said.

None of those ideas are more important than keeping this iconic landmark's history and tradition alive.

And it all starts Oct. 2 as the Rialto welcomes the comedy 'You Make My Frame Shake" for the next two weekends. Visit the Rialto Theater on Facebook for all the details.