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.

10th Annual Grand Marquee Gala supports The Paramount’s endeavors

The evening of Saturday, January 25, saw a flood of cocktail dresses and dancing shoes at “Seas The Paramount.” The 10th Annual Grand Marquee Gala—The Paramount’s biggest fundraiser of the year—was an incredible success. We are thrilled to share that over $111,000 was raised in support of the artistic, educational, and charitable benefit of this community treasure. We are exceedingly grateful for our donors and sponsors whose support made such a huge splash!

Our gratitude also extends to Rob Garland of Rob Garland Photographers, who captured so many memorable moments throughout the evening. Click here to view an online album of event photographs.

Endless thanks to the Grand Marquee Gala Committee and every set of hands that helped make the night so magical. And to those of you who attended the Gala—we hope you had as much fun as we did!

Next year’s Gala is slated to take place on Saturday, January 23, 2021, or Saturday, January 30, 2021, pending the UVA Basketball home schedule. To learn how you can support The Paramount Theater, visit, or contact Major Gifts Officer Chris Faulkner at 434-293-1009 or

YAMATO PASSION director Masa Ogawa finds peace between the drumbeats

Yamato will perform their new show Jhonetsu – Passion live on The Paramount’s stage on Thursday, February 20 at 7:00PM. Tickets are available at

Yamato’s director, Masa Ogawa, recently answered a few questions for Andrew Meacham.

MEACHAM: You are an artist, a glass blower. And a drummer. What was the inciting event that led you to transform from a relatively solitary activity to one that puts you in the center of a school, a community, a thriving show that performs for a million people all over the world?

OGAWA: I think there is no difference between glass blowing and Taiko drumming. In the university I recognized that I wanted to become some kind of expresser. However, I did not have enough passion to create art out of my mind. Unfortunately, I do not have the talent. Sadly, I did not like graphic design either. I did enjoy playing music with friends in the band at the university. I came to understand myself, little by little. I knew that I had a need to make something, by myself, for someone. But I did not know what I could do or wanted to do. I wanted to make my handmade glass by myself and give it to someone who wants to have it. In that creating process, I was hoping that my piece would give a little energy to someone else. After I gave it to them, the smile on their face or just that warm feeling would become my energy. That is still my motivation now.

M: What were those early years in creating Yamato like for you?

O: Yamato was started by something my mother did. She found a big and old Taiko drum in storage of a traditional shrine in our town. She said, “You should do something with this for the Shrine Festival.” I wrote a song and performed it with my brother and friends. It was just one time, and we figured it would be a nice memory. To our surprise, we started getting a lot of requests to play for other people. We didn’t have enough Taiko drums. Nor did we have costumes or any more songs. But nearly 10 people had already joined Yamato. Some of them quit their jobs. Something was happening. We practiced a lot, early in the morning until midnight. We ran 10 kilometers every morning to get stamina. We were feeling that Taiko drumming was giving us the power to discover something, and one of those things was our future. The life itself was so hard, but there was no hitting the wall with stress. We said yes to all booking requests, and also got energy from street performances.

M: Who writes the music? If you write it, can the music change in rehearsal, or through some other kind of collaboration?

O: I write a score on paper with all the notes. Then I pass it to the Yamato members, who try to remember the notes in their head and also in their minds. After the members memorize it, we start practice. Every song has a title. It is important to create with a story in mind. We work to put impart meaning with each sound, connecting some sounds and dividing others. The notes have no meaning just on the score. A sound can be gentle or powerful to be able to describe an image or the story’s title to the audience. In that process, we will be able to find more good notes to suit that image. On the one hand, we follow the score. On the other hand, we throw some notes out. That way our performance is a living thing. It can be continued forever. 

M: What effect do you hope the performances have on the audience, beyond being entertained?

O: I hope to be able to enfold people into the big vibration of the Taiko drum. I hope the audience heartbeat will synchronize with our beat. Then I hope people will be drawn into the circle. We want to cheer them up. We hope people can catch their own energy. 

M: What has surprised you most about this journey?

O: We are still traveling the world with the Taiko drum.  We never thought life would turn out like this in the beginning. If you do something your whole heart and mind, the road you must walk will appear. Just to do desperately. Then on your journey, many wonderful things will happen. 

Join us for The Paramount’s biggest fundraiser of the year! #SeasTheParamount

This year marks the 10th Annual Grand Marquee Gala at The Paramount Theater. The Gala serves as the main fundraising event for the nonprofit Theater, and supports the dynamic programming, arts education opportunities, and access to the arts for everyone in the community.

“Seas The Paramount” will take place on Saturday, January 25, and will include entertainment, food and cocktails, a silent auction, a raffle, and dancing on the stage. Our silent auction items are donated by generous community members, and include the following:

  • Ten days in London in a fully restored 1st floor Victorian bright and sunny pied-à-terre
  • A guitar signed by Ronnie Milsap, Del & Dawg, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Kip Moore
  • A watercolor painting of the Rotunda, by Lucy Clare Spooner
  • An eight-day Viking River Cruise for two people
  • A one-hour family portrait session in Charlottesville
  • Two signature epicurean experiences showcasing food and wine pairings from Easton Porter Group’s Charlottesville collection: Red Pump Kitchen and Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
  • A Wilderness Systems Ride 115 kayak
  • A basketball signed by legendary Coach Tony Bennett
  • A private movie screening on The Paramount’s Big Screen
  • Personal training sessions from Elevate Training Studios and yoga classes at FlyDog Yoga
  • Especially designed and constructed for the Gala by Lee Angelo Marraccini at Marraccini Designs: sterling silver earrings inlaid with black mother of pearl on sterling silver French hooks
  • Several Paramount event ticket packages
  • And so much more!

To purchase tickets, learn about sponsorship participation, and peruse the evening’s schedule of events, visit For questions regarding sponsorship opportunities, or to RSVP, please contact Major Gifts Officer Chris Faulkner at or 434-293-1009.

Photography by Rob Garland Photographers

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 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, where you can sign in using your 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 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)