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.
As the largest comedy festival on Long Island, the Long Island Comedy Festival hosts both a large-bodied comedian (6'6" Chris Roach) and a large lineup of human jokeboxes. The festival promotes the art of stand-up, comedy that relies on one man’s fast-paced jokes and stories rather than a group’s prolonged bouts of pie-flinging. Friday's lineup includes Al Lubel (featured on The Late Show with David Letterman), Maria Walsh (also known as "America's Naughtiest Mommy"), and Richie Byrne, who has had comedy appearances on Comedy Central and VH1. Saturday's 7:30 p.m. show includes J. Jay Boyd (who grew up in Port Jefferson, went to Port Jefferson High School, and is now a national headliner), Robin Fox, George Gallo, and Randy Levin, and the 9:30 p.m. show features Frankie Pace (featured on The Tonight Show and SNL) Christine O'Leary, Willy Sacco, and Paul Anthony. Check the schedule for new developments. Call ahead, as seat reservations are required.
The Erin and John Lopez, the founders of Variations, believe in more than building up successful dancers—they also believe in building healthy bodies and attitudes through dance. Erin is a longtime dancer herself, having performed at Lincoln Center and as a dancer with a wide swath of companies. The instructors here are just as committed to their students as the Lopezes, leading classes as diverse as classical ballet, jazz, and hip hop for students of all ages. The adult curriculum also covers classic and contemporary dance styles, with Pilates and ballet barre fitness lessons as well.