Tonawanda News

Local News

April 11, 2014

Cannata out as Riviera Theatre director

Longtime director resigns, files lawsuit over severance deal


Tonawanda News — Santiago said she did not make Cannata’s departure public during the last two months because “to draw attention from that would have taken away from the theater.” 

“Even though Frank was a chapter in the Riv’s story he wasn’t the end-all, be-all,” she said. She later added: “Mr. Cannata has done a lot for the Riviera Theatre. He’s a gentleman. He’s a good worker so you don’t want to disparage anyone.”

Cannata’s hiring was controversial at first. He had been fired from a job as principal in the Grand Island school district after being arrested for crystal meth possession. He flatly denied the reason for his resignation was due to a drug relapse.

“No. That’s been years (since the arrest) and it’s nothing like that at all,” he said. “I was an at-will employee. They could have fired me for any reason at all. If it had been anything illegal ... that would have been the end of it.”

Jim Pritchard, who previously served as the technical and facilities director, has taken over as the interim director of operations. Santiago said the board will conduct a national search for Cannata’s permanent replacement that will likely take months to complete. 

“I wish Mr. Cannata well,” Santiago said. “I hope people realize the Riv is heading in the right direction.”

Cannata said he is “actively looking” for new employment and when asked if there were hard feelings over his departure he said he’s proud of his tenure leading the theater.

“I loved my job, I love the community and I enjoyed what I did for a living and (that I) worked as hard as I did,” he said. “I’m proud of what I accomplished there. I left things better than I found it. Certainly Webster Street has thrived and that’s in no small part because of the Riv’s growth.”

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