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.

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