Disco Inferno Rialto

A scene from Rialto’s 2018 gala.

In keeping with its tradition of decade-themed annual galas, the Rialto Theatre will transform into a disco inferno for its seventh annual fundraising gala, A Night of Disco and Decadence at Studio 54.

“We’re really excited that it’s a theme that lends itself well to the theater setting,” said Julie Ragland, development director at the Rialto Theatre Foundation.

The night will feature disco grooves spun by Future Syndicate, with additional entertainment by “grassroots circus artist collective” Cirque Roots, known for performing hula hooping, fire dancing, stilt dancing and acrobatics. The whole event will be hosted by local idol Tempest DuJour, featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Beyond the performers, the night includes an auction, raffles and local special guests. And of course, food and drinks will be served by local restaurants and breweries. 

Proceeds from the event go to the Rialto Theatre Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the stewardship and preservation of the historic Rialto Theatre, 191 Toole and R Bar. Specifically, the proceeds go toward the end of the I Rock The Rialto Capital Campaign, a fundraiser with a goal of one million dollars for renovating The Rialto. 

“In general, it’s important for us to do a gala every year,” Ragland said. “But now, it’s especially important as we close out the Capital Campaign and have the renovations coming up.” 

The Rialto Theatre is planned to close for renovations in March 2020, and is estimated to remain closed until March 2022. Renovation plans, while originally more maintenance-based, changed dramatically when developers of downtown’s AC Marriott revealed new development plans to build an $88 million hotel project on Broadway and Fifth Avenue, incorporating two new Marriott brands and the Rialto Theatre. The construct would be a 16-story hotel attached to the Rialto, allowing for guests to walk between the two buildings. Renovations for the Rialto include laying a new floor, renovating the concessions stand and adding a mezzanine. 

During the closure, Rialto events will be rerouted to Corbett Warehouse on Sixth Avenue and Seventh Street. The warehouse is currently undergoing its own renovations to host the Rialto’s performances. 

“We don’t foresee changing much in our performances,” Ragland said of moving to the new location. “We’ll be booking the same kinds of acts, and the location is roughly the same capacity. It does allow access to outdoor space, so it’s a little bit of give-and-take with this.” 

For those looking to give a little more to the Rialto Theatre Foundation, the gala is also offering VIP tickets, which include an open bar with bonus specialty food and wine tastings. The night also includes the results of a silent auction, which is currently in progress. Those interested can currently participate in the online auction on the Rialto’s website. Auction items are mainly gift cards and packages to multiple businesses around Tucson, such as: La Paloma Country Club Golf, Casa Video, Desert Diamond Casino, Hotel Congress, Hacienda del Sol and a weekend in Bisbee.

“The community has really stepped forward,” Ragland said. “The capital campaign is going really well. We’re very happy with how it’s turned out.” 

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