Reaching OutPublished 5:04pm Sunday, December 29, 2013
Paramount Theatre officials are taking a step back in some areas and a step forward in others.
The Paramount Theatre is scaling back its 2014 Performance Series, but ramping up community involvement. The theater has five shows planned for the 2014 Performance Series: Ragamala Dance’s “Sacred Earth” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28, James Sewell Ballet’s “Love” at 7:30 p.m. March 1, illusionists The Spencers’ “Theatre of Illusion” at 7 p.m. March 27 and Tim Patrick and His Blue Eyes Band performing a Frank Sinatra tribute at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27.
Each of the Performance Series shows in 2014 will include outreach opportunities like events with schools or other area organizations; in fact, acts were chosen based on their willingness and availability to participate in community outreach, along with artistic ability.
“We’re hoping that it will just enrich the experience for the community,” Executive Director Jennie Knoebel said. Knoebel said the outreach efforts are a way to expand the artists’ impact in the community outside of a single performance, and it will help the Paramount reach a wider audience with its work.
“There’s a portion of the population that don’t come to events at the Paramount for a variety of reasons,” Knoebel said. “So by bringing the artist out of the Paramount and into the community, we’re hoping to have a greater community-wide impact with what we’re doing at the Paramount.”
Tim Patrick will perform a few mini-concerts at local senior living centers and homes the weekends before his show. Illusionists The Spencers will be in town for multiple days ahead of their March 27 performance. Kevin Spencer has a masters degree and is working on his Ph.D. He works with autistic children and even developed a curriculum that’s used around the U.S. He’ll work at I.J. Holton Intermediate School during his visit to Austin.
“He kind of has a dual mission,” Knoebel said, referring to his art and work with special needs students.
A shorter season
The outreach opportunities add a bit more work to each of the Performance Series shows, but that’s not the only reason to host a shorter season.
“We’re almost to the point where we burn the community out,” Knoebel said, who noted there are many more performances a places like Riverland Community College and around the community.
Several other theaters have tried reducing back on the number of shows, and officials have found they’re getting larger audiences at the fewer shows.
“We’re trying to present the highest quality work possible and make each event a little bit more special,” Koebel said.
The Paramount is also offering season passes to Performance Series shows for the first time: Individual passes will be $50, and family passes will be $100. Season tickets are on sale now.
Theater officials are looking to attract more families, according to Knoebel. The theater will offer a deal where adults buying a ticket to the Performance Series shows will get a free pass for a child age 12 or younger.
“All of the shows in our season are very family friendly,” Knoebel said. “We’re trying to pull more families in.”
The Paramount will host several events outside the Performance Series, like the second annual Paramount Jazz performance Jan. 19 featuring the Austin High School and Ellis Middle School jazz bands and Twin Cities saxophonist Kenni Holmen. Holmen will be in town before the performance working with student musicians.
“The concert is kind of culmination of his time in town with them,” Knoebel said.
The Northwestern Singers will present “American Bandstand” concert at 7 p.m. Jan. 25 and 2 p.m. Jan. 26.
The Paramount is trying something new in early February: A Thursday matinee. Dave Eicholz and Ted Manderfeld will perform several standards, spirituals and classics mixed with comedy and costumes during a performance titled “What A Wonderful World” at 2 p.m. Feb. 6. Knoebel said the matinee will be geared more toward senior citizens.
They’ll perform an additional show called “Deuces Wild! Dueling Pianos” that night at 7:30 p.m.
The Paramount will slow down in summer and not host many shows as officials prepare for the third annual ArtWorks Festival Aug. 23 and 24, 2014.
“We just haven’t had very good luck on our summer programming,” Knoebel said. “We’ll hit it hard again in fall.”
The popular Christmas show Veldman and Friends is scheduled to return in 2014.
Early next year, the Paramount will hold a Lucky Seven raffle fundraiser and the winner will receive 70 bottles of wine or 700 bottles of beer. The winner will be selected at the Deuces Wild concert. People can purchase multiple raffle tickets for either the wine or the beer and don’t need to be present to win. More details on the raffle will be released early next year.
In March, the Paramount is hosting another fundraiser through a performance of “Judy, Judy, Judy,” which focuses on the life of Judy Garland. Retired Riverland Theatre director Jerry Girton will direct the show, and Krista Johnson will star as Judy Garland, along with other local musicians and actors. Johnson is also writing some of the Garland character’s monologues.
“Judy, Judy, Judy” was performed at the Paramount in the 1990s as a fundraiser, but it will be slightly different and may feature different songs from Garland’s career.
The Northwestern Singers will also hold their spring performance at the Paramount in May.
The season used to be 10 to 12 performances.
•The Paramount Theatre box office hours changed to noon to 5 p.m Tuesday through Friday.
•For the full schedule of upcoming events, check out www.paramounttheatre.org