Nice niche: Cheaper events herald Paramount's fall season
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