GENESEO – The newly renovated and beautifully restored Riviera Theater on Center Street threw its first public event on Valentine’s Day as historic and touching letters between Colonel John Rorbach and his young wife, Elizabeth Vance, dating back to the Civil War.
The sampled, theatrical reading of these letters, sent from the home front and from the battlefield, drew a packed house to the Riviera to revel in a love story between a colonel and his beloved amidst a war of deep national significance, and according to owner and developer Don Livingston, this is only a taste of what the Riviera has to offer.
“We’ll be playing films this summer, all vintage,” said Livingston. “That’s what used to be shown here, and we’re going to keep it that way.”
The event was made possible by Leicester Town Historian Tom Roffe, who with the help of intern Rob Terreri scanned and transcribed the collection of Civil War letters and photos owned by the descendants of the Rorbach and Vance family.
The show was directed by SUNY English and Theater professor Dr. Melanie Blood, and performed by student actors Noah Pfeiffer and Christina O’Shea.
Rorbach Lane, which intersects the top of North Street in the Village, was named after the Colonel, though their house now stands at 57 Second Street and is occupied by their descendants.
The love letters made their debut on the local stage in November 2014 when SUNY students Dennis Caughlin and Megan McCaffrey played the young couple at the Livingston County Museum on Center Street.
PHOTO CAPTION: Beautifully redone interior of the Riviera, as seen the following night at screening of “An Affair to Remember.” (Photos/Sean Russell)