Riviera Theater resurrects classic films, impresses community

The newly restored Riviera Theater is currently running a series of classic films, as selected by the followers of The Riviera’s Facebook page. “The movies are chosen by the people,” owner Don Livingston said.

Livingston is all about preserving history. This history is accessible to all members of the Geneseo community—both young and old. “Theaters are dying in our society [today]—that’s why we wanted a multi-purpose space [in Geneseo],” he said.

In the spring of 2014, Livingston renovated the theater that first opened in the early 1900s. Livingston’s reasoning for renovating was to allow Geneseo residents to get in touch with the past by taking advantage of an opportunity: the opportunity to enjoy old classic movies and live performances. Livingston’s rationale for showing classic rather than contemporary films is simple: “This is a classic theater, so we should show the classics.”

The theater is all about preserving the past and Livingston’s goal is to stay true to that theme. Comedians, plays and concerts have all found a place on the stage of the Riviera. Livingston also aims to have a jazz band come for New Years’ Eve with all the grandeur of tinsel and champagne. “We want this to be a fine establishment,” he said.

Livingston emphasized that despite the theme of “classics,” he is not aiming to attract or alienate any age group. He noted that he welcomes the younger crowd of Geneseo students who may or may not have been exposed to these older movies. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that all movies are only $5, making it an affordable night out of entertainment for broke college kids.

The Riviera recently had a showing of The African Queen, a film that came out in 1951. Knowing that the movie came out just after World War II gave the movie deeper context and authenticity. It tackled ideas that are still prevalent in society today, such as feminism and social equality.

It’s unique to have an establishment focus on preserving a specific time in history and to have less of a concern for keeping up with the latest trends and technologies. Livingston is able to allow for both town residents and Geneseo students to enjoy everything The Riviera has to offer.

Livingston noted that he will be hosting a small international film festival soon and plans on showing three different films, including one from Brazil. The Riviera is currently showing the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty with a showing on Saturday Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. The Riviera’s next classic movie showing is the original King Kong, released in 1933. It will run from Wednesday Sept. 16-19.