One in a million (or a dozen): Executive Director Chris Eure

The Paramount Theater’s own Executive Director Chris Eure was recently honored as one of The Daily Progress’s Distinguished Dozen for her commitment to ensuring The Paramount is a place where everyone can gather to celebrate the arts. “Arts are the great equalizer,” Eure says in the article, “and The Paramount was built to be just that.” To read the full article, visit The Daily Progress online.

AmazonSmile: a simple way to support The Paramount

Gifts and goodies and holiday cheer—it’s that time of year! It’s the season of giving, and wouldn’t it be wonderful to give to charity without stretching your wallet too thin? You can do exactly that with AmazonSmile! This holiday season, when shopping for your friends and family on AmazonSmile, you can donate to your favorite nonprofit organization, such as The Paramount, at no extra cost to you.

It may sound too good to be true, but it’s really that simple. AmazonSmile is operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.

The Paramount Theater is already registered as a charitable organization on AmazonSmile. In order to donate a percentage of your purchase price to the Theater, go to smile.amazon.com, where you can sign in using your Amazon.com account. On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you can select The Paramount Theater as your organization of choice, and Amazon will remember your selection. Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are marked as “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages.

Using AmazonSmile is just one of many ways you can support The Paramount. To speak with someone about making a gift, please contact Chris Faulkner, Major Gifts Officer, at (434) 293-1009 or email chrisfaulkner@theparamount.net. As always, The Paramount is grateful for its supporters, who make it possible for the Theater to put on free events, subsidize ticket costs and provide financial assistance to students via the Arts Education Program, and so much more!

National Players bring the stage to the classroom

The National Players encourage CHS drama students to play improv games to sharpen their acting skills. (Photo by Aaron Eichorst)

America’s longest-running touring theatre company, National Players, performed The Diary of Anne Frank at The Paramount on Tuesday, December 3, as part of the Arts Education Program. The afternoon and day after the performance found the National Players conducting a variety of workshops with Drama and English classes at Charlottesville High School (CHS), impacting nearly 200 students, most of whom attended the play.

The National Players offer seven different workshops, three of which they brought to CHS: “Text in Context” and “Word to Action: Playwriting,” conducted in English classes, and “Acting and Improv,” conducted in first-year Drama classes.

Matt Merline of the National Players conducts a “Text in Context” workshop with a CHS English class. (Photo by Aaron Eichorst)

Cathy von Storch, The Paramount’s Education & Outreach Manager, said of the workshops conducted in English classes: “Students had a chance to get an inside look at the lives of the Players as actors and educators, discuss themes of the play and historical context, and engage in sharing their own stories through short writing exercises. They created one-act (3 line) plays, and did other activities to help contextualize understanding the events of the play, and draw connections between Anne’s world and their own.”

“Drama students learned some tricks of the trade from the Players,” von Storch added, “and they even had a chance to impress the Players with their own amazing talents!”

Cedrick L. Riggs, Jr. and Faith Ore of the National Players conduct an “Acting and Improv” workshop with CHS drama students. (Photo by Aaron Eichorst)

CHS theater representatives took to Twitter to thank The Paramount and National Players for “[providing] these amazing young people with both an incredibly powerful production of The Diary of Anne Frank…and two days of workshops with members of the [National Players] ensemble.”

The Diary of Anne Frank was just one of eleven live arts performances scheduled for area students during the 2019-20 school year. The Paramount Arts Education Program is committed to presenting the finest arts education performances for students in Central Virginia. A record-breaking 18,667 students and teachers attended Arts Education performances last 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.

“Running’s my favorite!”

Brew & Buddy participants enjoy a beer at Three Notch’d. (Photo by Taylor Matousek)

Nearly two hundred elves descended upon The Paramount on Sunday, December 8, for the 3rd Annual Brew & Buddy Run. Participants, decked out in their most creative holiday finery—from Rudolph onesies to light-up sweaters—ran a two-mile loop with stops at Three Notch’d and Champion for a free pour at each brewery.

The Brew & Buddy Run was originally inspired by the movie Elf (2003), in which Will Ferrell stars as Buddy, who as a baby crawls into Santa’s toy bag and is whisked off to the North Pole, where he is raised as an elf. A misfit who grows to be three times the size of his elf family, Buddy ultimately heads to his birthplace of New York City to seek out his roots.

Upon returning to The Paramount, the runners received a 2019 Brew & Buddy souvenir cup and had the chance to participate in a costume contest on The Paramount’s stage, in which a glow-in-the-dark elf and a mother-son Christmas tree duo took home the grand prizes. The festive evening concluded with a presentation of Elf on the Big Screen.

Festive friends enjoy a brew before getting back to the run. (Photo by Taylor Matousek)

Thank You, Thank You Very Much – Elvis Visits The Paramount!

Image Credit: Rob Garland Photographers

From the very first “Thank you, Thank you very much” after Matt Lewis, aka Elvis, first stepped on stage to the Theater’s applause, this year’s Christmas with Elvis did not disappoint. The event opened up with Big Ray and the Kool Kats’ set list consisting of funky classics such as James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and The Isley Brothers’ “Shout.” Once “Elvis” joined Big Ray and the Kool Kats, all eyes were glued on the King as he performed all of the fan-favorites such as “Burning Love,” “Always On My Mind,” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Audience members spent the night “shake, rattle, and rolling” in their seats as Matt Lewis worked the stage with all of the famous Elvis dance movements and three costume changes. The show concluded with women running to the stage as Matt Lewis handed out his scarves with a touch of sweat to all of the eager ladies. After the performance, Matt Lewis took to the Lobby for a Meet and Greet with hundreds of fans that made their way to the Theater. If you happened to miss this epic evening of Rock and Roll be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the King’s return to the Theater!

Cast & Crew Members Jay Ferguson and Mike Benzian as Elvis Bartenders in The Founders Lounge. Image Credit: Rob Garland Photographers

Image Credit: Rob Garland Photographers

Chris Janson brings holiday cheer and “good vibes”

Chris Janson performs “Run, Run Rudolph” at the CMA’s 10th Annual Country Christmas. (Photo by Donn Jones / CMA)

Country music star Chris Janson is a “live legacy in the making” (Rolling Stone). The platinum-selling recording artist of hits like “Buy Me A Boat” and “Fix a Drink” is bringing his Real Friends Tour to The Paramount on Friday, March 20, and tickets are on sale now!

In the four years since the release of his debut album, the three-time CMA nominee has collected prestigious accolades that place him amongst country music greats, including two No. 1 singles. Janson’s new album Real Friends dropped in October, and his Real Friends Tour kicked off the month before that. His newest single, “Done,” was the most-added single on Country Radio with 48 first-week adds. Not only has Janson been busy touring and climbing the charts, but he’s also been making headlines as of late, and we’ve complied them for you here.

On November 26, Janson was one of Dolly Parton’s musical guests on Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Opry. The two-hour special chronicles Parton’s 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and Janson helped celebrate her musical legacy with a performance of “Mule Skinner Blues.”

If you watched the 93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you may have seen Janson perform his hit song “Good Vibes” on a float with the Jolly Green Giant. On Instagram, the singer wished his fans a day full of turkey and “good vibes.”

Chris Janson performs during the 93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade rehearsals at Macy’s Herald Square. (Photo by John Lamparski / Getty Images North America)

Country music fans enjoyed a special treat from Janson on December 3. Following Brad Paisley’s hilarious 1-hour television special, Brad Paisley Thinks He’s Special, the Country Music Association’s (CMA) 10th Annual Country Christmas brought some of country’s biggest stars to the stage to perform holiday classics. The star-studded lineup included Janson, who gave an energetic performance of “Run, Run Rudolph” that included impressive harmonica solos throughout the song.

On December 5, Janson performed at the inaugural Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards in Nashville. He once again broke out that epic harmonica, and we hope he’ll do it again when he performs live at The Paramount this spring!

From page to stage: The Diary of Anne Frank

The National Players perform The Diary of Anne Frank live at The Paramount. (Photo by Taylor Matousek)

Hundreds of middle and high school students from as far away as Culpeper County gathered at The Paramount on Tuesday, December 3, for the National Players live performance of The Diary of Anne Frank, presented by the Arts Education Program.

The Diary of Anne Frank, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and adapted by Wendy Kesselman, is a stage adaptation of the book The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. National Players brings the true story of this incredibly insightful young girl that is often read in school to the stage in hopes of inspiring the next generation to stand up for justice rather than sit back in apathy.

Established in 1949 and based at Olney Theatre Center in Maryland since 1952, National Players is America’s longest-running touring theatre company. Founded on the principle of prioritizing areas with limited access to theatre, National Players company consists of 10 early-career theatre artists who spend 10 months touring the United States. This is the troupe’s 71st tour.

The National Players answered questions from the audience after the show. (Photo by Taylor Matousek)

A Q&A followed the performance, during which the National Players answered questions from the students, ranging from curiosity about the music selections to the actors’ ages.

After the performance, the National Players conducted an improv workshop with a class of drama students at Charlottesville High School (CHS). On Wednesday, they’ll return to CHS to provide 7 more workshops to English and drama classes. Stay tuned to find out what these high school students learned from these ambitious performers!

Get to Know the Photographers: National Geographic Live!

Hosting the award-winning National Geographic Live series on The Paramount’s stage is a highlight of our year. This annual series welcomes National Geographic photographers to share the stories behind capturing their incredible work, whether in our oceans, forests, or outer space. Our first installment of the season took place on Thursday, October 10, when we welcomed in more than 1,000 students and teachers for the opening of the 2019-20 Arts Education Season. The daytime performance was followed that evening with a presentation to a public audience of 500 patrons. Mark your calendars to join us this February when photographer Shannon Wild joins us to share her work in Pursuit of the Black Panther, and in May when Kevin Hand takes us out of this world with The Search for Life Beyond Earth.

Shannon Wild filming in South Africa. (Photo by Russell MacLaughlin)

Paramount Presents: National Geographic Live – Shannon Wild, Pursuit of the Black Panther, FEBRUARY 7 AT 7PM

Q: What drew you to photograph the black panther?

A: “My husband and I came across of photo of the panther on Instagram and knew immediately we wanted to pitch a documentary about it, since one hasn’t been professionally documented in the wild before.”

Q: How do you handle frightening situations such as being charged by elephants or bitten by snakes?

A: “The positive far outweighs any negatives given that I love animals and being around them.  It’s part of the job, and every job has its risks—mine are just a little more unique than most.”

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the trials you’ve faced during the making of your documentary?

A: “Oh, so many, which I’ll detail in my talk and certainly too many to list here—but without giving too much away, apart from the day to day challenges of filming wildlife in general, I also managed to break my back. You’ll have to come along to hear all about it!”

Kevin Hand explores a mountainous region. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Hand)

Paramount Presents: National Geographic Live – Kevin Hand, The Search for Life Beyond Earth,
MAY 8 AT 7PM

Astrobiologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Kevin Hand searches for life beyond Earth. He is currently helping plan a NASA mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to investigate evidence of a vast subsurface ocean—a body of water that could sustain primitive forms of life on this alien world nearly 600 million miles from our planet.

Based at Pasadena’s world-famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Hand designs instruments for the probe that will travel to Europa. To gain perspective on the conditions these instruments will have to endure, and to see how microbes eke out a living in our world’s harshest climes, Hand has traveled to the most forbidding environments on Earth. He has conducted studies on the glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro, the valleys of Antarctica, and the depths of our oceans.

Pictured here, Europa is one of Jupiter’s 79 known moons. (Photo by Guillermo Abramson)

Aside from his compelling scientific work, Hand founded Cosmos Education, a nonprofit organization that empowers some of Africa’s poorest children through science, health, and environmental education. In 2005, Hand appeared alongside director James Cameron in Aliens of the Deep, applying his knowledge about extraterrestrial environments to Earth’s own unexplored territories. And in the summer of 2012, Hand joined Cameron’s team on his historic Challenger Deep dive into the Marianas Trench, the deepest place on the planet. Join Hand at The Paramount on May 8 for a firsthand report on the search for real extraterrestrials.

 

There’s No Place Like The Paramount for the Holidays!

The Paramount’s own “little helpers” spent 3 days preparing the historic Theater for the holidays, and for the inaugural Holiday Evening Candlelight Tours. The first of the holiday tours will take place tonight—Thursday, November 21—at 6:00PM and 6:30PM. This family-friendly group tour includes individual candles to light the way and enhance the festive holiday feeling. The tour will conclude in the Ballroom where groups will be offered a complimentary festive drink, holiday cookies, and a number of other surprises, including live music from The Quarter Notes from Charlottesville High School (Nov. 21, Dec. 11 & Dec. 20) and St. Anne’s-Belfield Quartet (Nov. 24 & Dec. 9). Can’t make it tonight? Don’t get your stockings in a twist—we have a plethora of upcoming holiday tour dates:

Sunday, November 24 | 4:00PM, 4:30PM & 5:00PM
Monday, December 9 | 6:00PM, 6:30PM & 7:00PM
Wednesday, December 11 | 6:00PM, 6:30PM & 7:00PM
Friday, December 20 | 6:30PM, 7:00PM & 7:30PM

Enjoy the photos below for a peek at The Paramount’s festive décor. Special thanks to Lynne Goldman Elements and Leftover Luxuries for decorating two of our beautiful trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photos by Taylor Matousek)

 

 

 

 

Kool Kats and the Best Elvis in Vegas

Matt Lewis, the “Best Elvis in Vegas,” impersonates the King of Rock and Roll. (Photo courtesy of Matt Lewis)

Charlottesville’s beloved Big Ray and the Kool Kats, and world-renowned Elvis impersonator, Matt Lewis, are returning to The Paramount for Christmas with Elvis on Saturday, December 7.

Named the “Best Elvis in Vegas” by USA Today, Matt Lewis has been performing as the King of Rock and Roll since he was twelve years old. By the time he turned twenty-one, he was headlining Las Vegas’s longest running, world famous show, “Legends in Concert.”

Formed in 1996, Big Ray and the Kool Kats is led by trumpeter and longtime professional musician Ray Caddell. Named one of Modern Bride Magazine’s “Best Wedding Bands in America,” Big Ray and the Kool Kats can perform literally thousands of songs.

Matt and Ray performed together at The Paramount in 2017, but Ray told us he was a fan of Matt long before that.

Ray: My wife and I are big Las Vegas fans, so anytime [the Kool Kats] work there, my wife comes with us. About ten years ago, we started going to the “Legends in Concert” show in Las Vegas, all the way back in Imperial Palace days, so it’s been a while. The show changes every night, it’s sort of a rotating cast of impersonators. You might see Bette Midler, you might see Elton John, you might see The Temptations. But, the one thing that’s remained constant through all the years is that the show always closes with Elvis. As an entertainer, I was just so impressed with Matt all those times that we saw him. My wife said, “Why can’t we get him in Charlottesville?” And I said, “Well, I think we can.” I was on the programming committee for The Paramount for many years, so that’s how it started.

Matt, I read that you started performing as Elvis at age twelve—how exactly did that happen?

Matt: It was for a talent show at my junior high school. I took second place, and my best friend took first place. After that, people started asking me to perform at their parties, and they’d pay me a hundred bucks to come sing three songs; when you’re twelve, that’s a lot of money. I’d never seen a hundred-dollar bill! That’s kind of how it started. I went to college to be a school teacher and, ultimately, after five and a half years, I dropped my classes to be an Elvis impersonator.

What’s the most difficult part of impersonating Elvis?

Matt: I’ve been doing it for so long, I haven’t thought of anything as difficult… You know, the hardest part was learning to talk like him; I always kind of had the voice. I didn’t grow up in Memphis, so that has been the hardest part for me, but now it’s almost like turning on a light switch.

So Elvis is kind of like your alter ego now?

Matt: Exactly. I try not to take it home too much.

Ray, how did you get into music? Is it something you’ve done since you were a kid?

Ray: Yeah, it really is. I’m considerably older than Matt; in fact, I’m celebrating my fiftieth year of playing music for money. It started in the ’60s, and I was lucky enough to be in a band with a bunch of older guys. They had a house gig in the Latin Casino outside of Philadelphia, and I was fifteen years old playing behind everyone you can imagine: Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, The 5th Dimension, and Sammy Davis, Jr. It was a really lucky thing, and I’ve been playing ever since.

What has been your most memorable experience or performance?

Ray: You mean other than playing with Matt where I get to see the audience go absolutely berserk? If you watch me during the show, you’ll see I spend a lot of time conducting and a lot of time looking out into the audience, because it’s just stunning to see the looks on their faces. There are some people out there who I’m not sure understand that Matt isn’t actually Elvis Presley.

Matt: For me, it was when I performed in Switzerland. I sang in English, but I did all my lines in German. I learned it all phonetically because I don’t speak German. That was probably one of my greatest accomplishments; I did that for about three months, and it was a great gig.

Matt Lewis performs as Elvis and Big Ray conducts the Kool Kats during their live performance at The Paramount in 2017. (Photo by Rob Garland Photographers)

What’s your favorite song to perform?

Ray: That’s easy—Matt just destroys something that Elvis closed a lot of shows with: “American Trilogy.” I get chills every time we do it, to hear him sing it, and when I see the people stand up and sing along and salute, it’s just astonishing. So that’s an easy one for me: “American Trilogy.”

Matt: For me, it’s “If I Can Dream.” Elvis closed his ’68 Comeback Special with it. I love the horns; I love the whole feel of it.

Ray: The interesting thing about that song is—you know, it’s not like “Teddy Bear” or something. The interesting thing about “If I Can Dream” is it’s the one song that shows to me what a great singer of all kinds Elvis Presley was, and, by extension, Matt. I mean, that’s a real piece of music. And, by the way, we will play that at The Paramount, along with “American Trilogy.” You can always count on those two showing up.

Is there anything in particular about the Christmas show at The Paramount you’re excited for?

Matt: Elvis has some amazing Christmas music; he did a whole Christmas album. It’s great to play it with a big band. It’s just a magical time of year, and I think Elvis is definitely a big part of a lot of people’s Christmas.

Ray: The other nice thing about it is, Elvis was a deeply religious guy, and a very fine gospel artist as well. That will give us an opportunity to do some songs that we might not ordinarily play in the regular show. There are only so many minutes, and Elvis had dozens and dozens and dozens of gold records. But, when it’s Christmas, we get to do some special things like “Blue Christmas” and “How Great Thou Art.”

Matt: Ray, did you get “How Great Thou Art” on the set list?

Ray: I don’t remember if I put it on there in writing, but we’re definitely playing it. We have to be ready for it—tell the story about the last time we were in North Carolina.

Matt: Oh yeah, when we were in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, the audience kept wanting me to do “How Great Thou Art.” We hadn’t rehearsed it, we weren’t planning on doing it, but they kept yelling out that they wanted it. So, I started singing a little bit of it acapella, and then the piano player came in, and slowly the band started coming in. And then, I swear, four gentlemen from different parts of the audience came up and started singing. Before the song was over, we had a four-part harmony, we had the whole band, nobody had rehearsed it, and the audience went ballistic. It was one of those magical moments.

What it is that made you want to come perform at The Paramount again?

Matt: I just love playing with Ray. Earlier this year, he and I talked about possibly putting together a Christmas show, and it just seemed like a really good fit and we hadn’t done that yet.

Ray: I want people to understand—one nice thing about Matt’s show is, sometimes people come to theaters, and they’ve never been there to see anything before, but they come because they’re Elvis fans. I want people to understand what a great place The Paramount is to see a concert. The sightlines are fabulous, the sound and lights are beautiful; it’s just absolutely a jewel box.