While Elwood Cinema shows the latest, hottest movies, it still retains that family-friendly neighborhood vibe. First opened in the 1960s, it's been updated since, with four screens, digitally mastered production technology, and updated plush seating with ample room for moviegoers to stretch out their legs. The theater shows appreciation for its many loyal customers by gifting them with free snacks and, every few months, free screenings of classic movies such as The Sandlot, The Breakfast Club, and that Felix the Cat biopic. The staff also does a great job of hosting birthday parties complete with pizza and unlimited popcorn.
At Encore Dance Academy, tiny feet pirouette and leap across a safety-sprung wood floor during a classic ballet class. That’s just one of the ways the instructors get bodies moving in dance classes for wee ones as young as 6 months to adults. The roster includes jazz, tap, hip-hop, and musical-theater dance forms, led by experienced instructors certified in CPR and first aid. They create an energetic and friendly atmosphere in which dancers of all ages can feel free to express themselves through movement. To carve out toned physiques, adults can groove to the Latin beats of Zumba, which includes free babysitting so parents can bust a move without duct-taping their child to their chest.
The dance center also hosts birthday parties and camps, come summertime, that encourage kids up to age 8 to step into the rolls of divas and rock stars while learning a dance step or two.
As the name suggests, Dany Holdstein’s Two Worlds Dance & Fitness unites instructors from the realms of dance and exercise to help students meet their health goals. Before founding the studio, Holdstein studied with dance icons Martha Graham and Pearl Lang, taught master classes internationally, and served as an adjunct professor at C.W. Post College. He requires his dance instructors' credentials be no less impressive. Dance teachers include Andre Kisselev, a classically trained ballet dancer who has high-stepped it with Riverdance, and Lancelot Theobald, a former professional football player who has performed at the Metropolitan Opera and developed choreography for the Knicks City Dancers. Theobald's Momz-N-Da-Hood group—a breakdancing crew of mothers over 40—is a spinoff of one of his hip-hop exercise classes, and, as noted by the Long Island Press, has appeared on Good Morning America.
As the artistic director of an eponymous contemporary dance company, Holdstein has equipped his dance and workout studios with the same floating floors and Marley coverings found in professional facilities. The center's walls resound with music from spinning, Zumba, and belly-dancing classes as certified personal trainers help guests navigate the weights and cardio equipment in the gym area. The instructors also lead classes for children and teens, including Broadway-style theater-dance sessions and pointe classes that give kids the ability to overcome roller-coaster height requirements.
For more than 25 years, Drama Kids International has nurtured thousands of thespian students and kids simply searching for an engaging activity, instilling children with the ability to speak clearly and confidently. Classes focus on sharpening articulated speech and encouraging creative expression. Children are placed in classes according to their age group: the Lower Primary (ages 5–8) teaches kids how to deliver lines and hone social skills, the Upper Primary (ages 9–11) delves into improvisation and dramatic movement, and the DKI Acting Academy (ages 12–17) preps scene-stealers on how to audition for their dream role. Each class includes a variety of activities for kids to unleash their imagination, which develops their dramatic abilities in a fun, easy-going setting. Drama Kids instructors foster an open, comfortable acting environment. Call ahead to schedule the first class and start your child down the path of becoming one of the more notable Baldwin brothers.
The Long Island Comedy Festival, which won a thumbs-up from Newsday in 2009, sends laughing fits rippling through southeastern New York with showcases of some of the area's most accomplished comedians. The namesake festival spreads out across Long Island every summer, landing at venues that might range from an old-fashioned playhouse to a family amusement park. Many alumni return to perform year after year, making for a festive atmosphere that executive producer Paul Anthony likens to "a comedy party that the audience members have been invited to," rather than one that they sadly listen to through the floorboards. During the rest of the year, the organizers stay busy producing comedy series at other historic venues and exporting their team of comics to college shows.
In the 74 years between the Paramount Theatre's opening night, when people used to line up to see “talkies” for 50 cents, and 2002, when it was voted Best Mainstage Theatre in a Seattle Weekly Reader's Poll, the palatial venue faded and decayed alongside its Roaring Twenties brethren throughout America. Luckily, former Microsoft Vice President Ida Cole saved it from the rubble heap in the mid-‘90s when she established the Seattle Landmark Association and vowed to render the Paramount "kissable" once again.
Over the course of seven months, the renovation crew expanded the size of the stage wings to accommodate more ambitious live productions. They also cleared decades of grime from the french baroque plaster reliefs, uncovering long-forgotten designs and causing only one long-dormant horror to snap open its eyes dramatically. They also replaced the gold leaf in the floral designs of the wall medallions, repainted all the surfaces in their original 16 colors, and scrubbed each of the 1.6 million crystal beads in the chandelier by hand with a toothbrush. The original Knabe Ampico player piano was returned to its spot on the four-tiered lobby's lush carpeting, and a 21st-century sound system now shares sonic space with the thundering, luminous sonority of the Paramount's fully restored Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Though the Paramount's calendar runs the gamut from rock concerts to standup comedy to Broadway musicals on the scale of Wicked, its decadent Beaux Arts trappings transport audiences to the days when reality was still black and white.