Nice niche: Cheaper events herald Paramount's fall season

emanuelaxPianist Emanuel Ax, recently praised by the New York Times, heads to The Paramount in November.

The Paramount Theater released its fall 2009 season lineup April 20 to a downtown arts community that is still reeling from the larger impact of the economic decline. Despite a growing general trend of slashing arts from a typical family budget, the Paramount remains optimistic about its upcoming season which pares prices and features some lesser-knowns.

"Of course we're worried about the economy, the Jane and John Does not having enough money to give back to the arts," general manager Mary Beth Aungier says. "As a not-for-profit organization, we are of course very worried. The first thing that is cut out is the arts."

The season will include such niche acts as Patty Loveless (September) and Rhonda Vincent (November) for the country lovers, Complexions Contemporary Ballet (January) for the various local dance organizations, and Emanuel Ax (November) for classical music patrons. Even with the threat of lower ticket sales, Aungier and marketing coordinator Katharine Vlcek look forward to high attendance throughout the fall.

"I think Patty Loveless will do really well–- we've already started getting calls a month ago for her," Aungier says. "Emanuel Ax just performed at Carnegie Hall with YoYo Ma, and literally the review in the New York Times was one of the greatest reviews I've read about anyone–- the classical music community will be really excited about that."

Aungier and Vlcek emphasize the importance of arts education for the Paramount; reflected in the fall season are several family-friendly shows, aimed at spreading a love and patronage of the local theater to a wider age group. Highlighted among the family-focused events is the Philadelphia-based Enchanted Theatre's production of the classic children's book The Adventures of Harold & the Purple Crayon. "The Adventures of Harold will blow out the roof–- tickets start at $5," Aungier says.

The lowered ticket price for Harold is just the tip of the iceberg. Feeling some sales softness in recent shows, the theater plans on reducing ticket prices across the board to assist patrons in continuing to enjoy the arts while still sticking to budget. Besides Harold's reduced price, Patty Loveless tickets begin at $30, while $25 will get a ticket to see bluegrass artist Rhonda Vincent.

While the Paramount opened in December of 2004 with a black-tie benefit featuring renowned crooner Tony Bennett, the upcoming season aims wider. The upcoming screening of The Met: Live in HD is among what Aungier hopes to be many filmed events the theater hosts at a lower price point that some of the acts of previous seasons.

"Our hope is that you don't cut the arts out of your life," Aungier says. "And that you come not just to The Paramount, but continue supporting the downtown area."

–last updated 9:19am, April 28

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When it comes to The Paramount, everything used to be better. I hardly would call this lineup a season. How many Executive Directors have they been through? When I see this year's "scant offerings" I honestly wonder what is going on down there?

There's nothing like a live performance. I was blessed with parents who took me to many outstanding live events growing up and I credit much of my enjoyment in life to this. Always chose live arts over staying home in front of the TV or computer --guaranteed you will be happier

Finally, that John Denver tribute show I've been dreaming of and some opera on a big screen TV. Better get my ticket order in right away though. The website (surprised to find they have one, not surprised to find it doesn't work well) tells me to "Please note that ticket orders may take up to two weeks to process."

Someone please remind me what Millennium we are in.

Modern dance seems to be the poor step-child in this schedule. Every season I am disappointed by the paucity of dance concerts. Charlottesville has a large enthusiastic dance community, but rarely do we have the opportunity to see the many fine major companies: Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, Mark Morris, Martha Graham, ...the list goes on and on, there are also many fabulous lesser know companies as well. Hopefully next year will be better.

Martha Graham was here last Spring. Did you missit? Other spectacular dance performances include the amazing Alvin Ailey, Parsons Dance, Pilobolus, Momix, and Philadanco.

The latest "season" isn't just short on Dance, it's just short. It looks like the Met and a bunch of B-level repeats.

Dance season last year was better, you're right, but this year has scant offerings for dance enthusiasts and yes maybe it's the economy stupid so hoping for more next year

Ed Burton, on WINA is totting that things are definetly going to improve, and bah humbug to all you nea sayers. WINA is playing his comments over and over thinking,I guess, if we hear it enough times we'll believe it --wish I was as optimistic --think Ed's got his head in the proverbial bubble

FINALLY getting that Cray show.