Blast From the Past: Kenny Rogers

On Friday, September 23, 2016 we were honored to welcome country music legend Kenny Rogers to our stage. It was a special evening at The Paramount for more than 1,000 friends of the Theater. From “Islands in the Stream” to “Coward of the County”, “The Gambler” and “Lucille” he performed hit after hit to an enthusiastic and thankful crowd.

Avid Paramount Star Circle Member, Volunteer, and patron-extraordinaire Heather Walker shared in a tribute to Mr. Rogers earlier today about her memory from the performance. “We were so lucky to see Kenny Rogers perform live at The Paramount. He was so kind during our meet and greet! He gave me an autographed tambourine at the end of the night!”

Today’s news that he passed away brought a flood of memories from this night, along with extreme thankfulness for the music he shared with us so many for decades. If you were in attendance, we would LOVE to hear YOUR special moments and memories of the evening, too. Please visit our Facebook and Instagram pages to leave a comment as we remember together this legendary performer.

Photos by Rob Garland Photographers

Blast From the Past: Patti LaBelle

Patti LaBelle had the audience on their feet when she took to The Paramount’s stage in 2017. Her contagious energy filled the auditorium – it was impossible not to dance!

The Paramount’s Front of House Operations Manager, Malcolm Dyson, was a relatively new employee at the time. “It was the first big show I worked, and the Founders Lounge was as lively as I’ve ever seen it,” he shared. “I only caught the last couple of songs, but it was great to see a true Philly legend performing on stage in Charlottesville.”

While we are diligently working to reschedule many of our spring events, which contribute significantly toward our yearly operating budget, we know we will suffer a devastating loss of revenue as a local nonprofit theater. Please consider making a donation to The Paramount.

Photos by Rob Garland Photographers

Blast From the Past: Dr. Maya Angelou

Legendary poet, singer, and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou graced The Paramount’s stage in 2007. “Her presence, physically and spiritually, was so commanding even in that stage of her life,” shared Cat Ratliff, The Paramount’s Box Office, Education & Outreach Assistant. “We were all blessed.”

The Paramount’s Production Manager, Robert Benjamin, did some digging and managed to find the call sheet from that night – check it out!

Robert recalls that Dr. Angelou couldn’t see over the lectern while sitting. “It was too hefty for her to adjust, so Kyle Rodland [stagehand] rearranged everything for her in front of the audience,” Robert said. “Dr. Angelou embraced the moment, making it more comfortable for everyone, by cracking a joke with him, and they laughed together as he walked off the stage. There’s a really good photo of Kyle looking back at her as he was walking through the curtains.” (We found the photo!)

One of our favorite moments from the night was Dr. Angelou’s presentation of “Still I Rise.” As Cat put it so graciously, “It is so iconic that poem is what we associate with her immediately.” We hope you will take a moment to share this memory with us:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

While we are diligently working to reschedule many of our spring events, which contribute significantly toward our yearly operating budget, we know we will suffer a devastating loss of revenue as a local nonprofit theater. Please consider making a donation to The Paramount.

Photos by Rob Garland Photographers

Blast From the Past: Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett reopened The Paramount Theater after some of its darkest days – 30 years of sitting dark and forgotten. While our Stage is dark right now, we KNOW the arts are important to our community, and The Paramount will continue to be a gathering place for Charlottesville again soon. For each day that we are dark during this public health crisis, we will post photos from past events as part of our “Blast From the Past” campaign. We encourage you to share your memories as we patiently wait for the magic to return. In the meantime, our Blade and Marquee still shine brightly, ready to welcome you back to your community Theater!

After performing at The Paramount’s grand reopening in 2004, Charlottesville’s second favorite Tony Bennett returned to the stage in 2016.

Both performances were that of which dreams are made. Performing to a sold-out audience both times (1,000+ seats filled), Mr. Bennett put down his microphone at the end of his performance and just sang. It was almost as if time stood still, and there was no greater gift of music than what Paramount patrons were experiencing in that moment.

The Paramount’s Director of Marketing, Maran Garland, recalls a fun memory from that night. Upon wrapping up the stage remarks before the performance, she and Executive Director Chris Eure exited the stage – and nearly bumped right into Mr. Bennett! They didn’t think he’d be backstage, but plans had changed. “We were able to quickly say, ‘Welcome to The Paramount,’” Maran shared. “And with a smile and a wink, he continued up the steps and took to the stage, while we watched in awe. It was a moment I personally will never forget.”

While we are diligently working to reschedule many of our spring events, which contribute significantly toward our yearly operating budget, we know we will suffer a devastating loss of revenue as a local nonprofit theater. Please consider making a donation to The Paramount.

Photo by Rob Garland Photographers

“Blast From the Past” social campaign

The Paramount knows how important the arts are to our community. For each day we are dark during this public health crisis, we will post photos from past events as part of our “Blast From the Past” campaign on Facebook and Instagram. Who would you like to see in a “Blast From the Past?” We encourage you to share your memories, your photos, and whatever brings a smile to your face as we patiently wait for the magic to return to our Stage. In the meantime, our Blade and Marquee still shine brightly, ready to welcome you back to your community Theater!

Stay connected with The Paramount’s Spring 2020 Newsletter

While these are certainly unprecedented times, we hope you will stay connected with us through our latest edition of the Backstage News. Inside our Spring 2020 edition, you will find stories of recent events and activities at the Theater.

The Paramount Theater closed the decade with holiday fun, a variety of Arts Education shows, and a renovated Founders Lounge. In 2019, we received 30 5-star Google reviews, sold 7,720 tubs of popcorn, and, during 237 days of the year, there was at least one event taking place at the Theater. We were fortunate enough to kick off the new decade with our 10th Annual Grand Marquee Gala, which raised over $111,000 in support of the Theater’s mission.

We invite you to join us on this journey as we highlight some of the many activities previously planned for this season, and, with an optimistic outlook, will be back on schedule very soon. For the most up-to-date schedule of events, please visit our events page.

COVID-19 Correspondence from The Paramount’s Executive Director

Below are correspondences regarding COVID-19 that were sent via email to The Paramount Community. For the most up-to-date schedule of events, please visit our events page.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Dear Paramount Community,

I wrote to you yesterday to share that in this unprecedented time of a community health concern, we were in the process of canceling and rescheduling events at The Paramount. As of late yesterday, we were able to confirm that all events now through April 8, 2020 have been re-booked for a later date, or have been canceled. As this situation remains dynamic, we will revisit our event schedule later this month and will again share the status of future events.

In good times and in bad, The Paramount Theater has been, and will continue to be, here for our community.  We do not take for granted our role as a gathering place, but your safety is of our utmost concern. Our dedication to our community includes the health and well-being of our patrons, but also our Volunteers, Staff, and more. The decision to move many events took significant coordination from many constituents; our sincere gratitude to all who made this possible. The end result is that we are striving to do our part to assist our community with the responsibility for social distancing, specifically at largely attended events.

This pandemic will leave its mark on our community in many ways. Working together I know we will get through this health concern, just as we have weathered many challenges in the recent past. As a nonprofit organization, the Theater, like so many others in our community, will be hit hard by this loss of revenue. If you are able, we hope you will consider in lieu of a ticket refund, treating your ticket purchase as a donation to the Theater, or the other nonprofits who had to cancel their events here. During this time of event cancellations, ticket donations will help offset the loss of revenue and deficit we will be incurring, the longer this continues. All tickets donated to the Theater will receive a tax receipt for their total value along with our unfailing gratitude for your continuing support.

As I shared previously, our website (which is linked), will contain the most up-to-date status of our event schedule. Should the status of additional events change, we will continue to notify tickets holders at the email address on the account provided with the purchase.

The mission of The Paramount Theater strives to educate, enchant, enrich, and enlighten our community. For now, we will strive toward this mission not on our stage, but rather through our personal relationships with our local community. We hope it will not be too long before we can welcome you back through the doors of your Theater. In the meantime, stay safe!

Yours in community,

Christine S. Eure
Executive Director

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Dear Paramount Community,

Like many of you, we are monitoring the developing COVID-19 situation closely and we are following guidelines from local authorities and the Virginia Department of Health. As a historic venue located on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, we do not take for granted our role as a gathering place for the community, but your safety is of our utmost concern.

The situation is dynamic. Through the end of March, some events at The Paramount Theater have canceled while others are in the process of rescheduling. Our website will contain the most up-to-date status of our current and future event schedule. Should the status of upcoming events change, tickets holders will be notified at the email address on the account provided with the purchase.

The mission of The Paramount Theater strives to educate, enchant, enrich, and enlighten our community. While we continue to monitor the situation, we will look forward to welcoming you back to The Paramount Theater very soon, in the meantime, stay safe.

Yours in community,

Christine S. Eure
Executive Director

Creatures and pigeons and more, oh my!

The new decade kicked off with several exciting Arts Education Program productions, including Wilde Creatures and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (The Musical!) in January, followed by Yamato – The Drummers of Japan and Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks in February. Reaching more than 8,000 students and teachers throughout Central Virginia, there was rarely a quiet moment in the Auditorium—indeed, it was often bursting with laughter, applause, and awestruck gasps!

The Paramount staged two productions of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (The Musical!), which was a delight for young students, many of whom wore Pigeon shirts and homemade paper hats. One teacher shared that her group of students got a true “life imitates art” experience when they took the Charlottesville Area Transit trolley to attend the show. Another teacher commented, “It felt like we took a field trip to NYC to a Broadway show! It was great and we loved it!”

Wilde Creatures brought Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales to life and involved the audience in the story, much to the students’ enjoyment. One teacher said of the show, “The music and storytelling were amazing, the sets and props magical… Our students were talking about it afterwards and left the Theater happy and excited about the story.” Two students wrote reviews about the show, and not only did they give it five stars, they were also kind enough to share their thoughts with us!

Yamato – The Drummers of Japan brought the ancient art of Taiko drumming to The Paramount’s Stage not only for their public performance on the evening of February 20, but also for an Arts Education show earlier that morning. The drums could be heard throughout the building and even from inside the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library on East Market Street! The students were awed at the athleticism of the drummers, the power of the drums’ vibrations, and the contagious energy of the show. Audience participation was a key factor of the show, and students eagerly clapped along with the drummers’ rhythms. One teacher’s comment captured the sentiments of many: “It was like traveling to Japan without ever leaving our hometown! I thought it was wonderful how much was conveyed by the music and performance. Music is a language all its own.”

Returning to The Paramount for an 11th season, Mad River Theatre Works brought the story of legendary civil rights activist Rosa Parks to the Stage with Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks. The musical tells the story of Rosa Parks’ life while dispelling myths about Parks and her protest. “My students gained a better perspective on Rosa Parks and the work that she and so many other people did in the Civil Rights movement,” wrote one teacher. “They really enjoyed it and described her as a ‘hero’!” Excitingly, all of Henley Middle School (900 students) was able to attend this performance. Henley’s principal described the show as a very important experience for her school community to share together.

There are two more productions scheduled for the 2019-20 school year, one of which—Llama Llama – Live!­will also include a public performance on Friday, April 24 at 6:00PM. The Paramount Arts Education Program is committed to presenting the finest arts education performances for students in Central Virginia. Approximately 13,500 students and teachers have attended Arts Education performances so far this year, and over 195,000 have attended since 2004. With the support of Arts Education Partners, The Paramount Theater is able to offer performances at a reduced cost or free of charge, thus ensuring that these programs are accessible to all students.

Photos by Taylor Matousek

Vote for The Paramount in The Daily Progress Readers’ Choice Awards!

It’s time to vote for your local favorites in The Daily Progress 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards! Last year, The Paramount won Best Live Theater and was a finalist for Best Place to See Music.

This year, The Paramount is nominated for awards in the Experience and Live, Learn, Work categories:

  • Best Place to See Music
  • Best Live Theater
  • Best Movie Theater
  • Best Benefits
  • Best Boss – Chris Eure, Executive Director
  • Best Pay
  • Best Work Culture
  • Best Nonprofit Organization
  • Best Place to Work

You can help us win again this year by visiting The Daily Progress online to vote for your favorite nonprofit community Theater! Voting closes on Friday, March 6 at 4:30PM.