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.
The detail-oriented instructors at Art a la Cart take students through each painting step-by-step, showing them how to mix and blend their own colors and build compositions from the background without having to first live among paintings in local art museums. They supervise students in a themed class series as they paint still-life fruit and candies, portray whimsical landscapes, depict parts of the San Francisco skyline, or emulate the style of a classic artist. Groups explore each subject and question its lack of Renaissance cupids in one of five locations, which include wine-cellar tasting rooms, underground wine bars, and a modern minimalist cocktail lounge. Staff members supply all acrylic paints, brushes, and other gear for each class; and though they don't provide any libations, instructors encourage participants to bring or purchase their own drinks.
Taking its name from a Sean O'Casey play, The Plough and the Stars wears its Hibernian heritage on its sleeve as it captivates visitors with an atmosphere of Irish whiskeys, heady beers, and live music. The owners and most of the staff hail from the Emerald Isle, charming their guests with authentic accents and a mastery of pouring Guinness the Irish way—easing the black ambrosia into a glass as they recite On Raglan Road while drinking a cup of water. Patrons sip perfectly mixed irish coffees as they watch Celtic set dancing on Thursdays or raise their glasses of draft Kilkenny and Smithwick's to live bluegrass, blues, and traditional Irish tunes almost every day of the week.
The multiple award-winning funny comedian, Ash K. entertains audiences with magic shows ranging from house parties to corporate events. In 2010, he was voted the Best Arts and Entertainment/Theatre performer on the San Francisco Chronicle's Baylist, which he celebrated by turning every section in the newspaper into the funnies. Once described by a reviewer as a mash-up of Borat, Harpo Marx, and Emo Philips, the celebrated performer has delighted spectators with his sleight-of-hand magic, physical comedy, Eastern European accent, and his subversive use of the English language. Click here to see a video of Ash in action.
SHN brings Broadway productions to San Francisco with two highly acclaimed new shows. From the director of Rent, Next to Normal invites audiences to a modern rock musical about a suburban family striving to keep it together. Winner of three 2009 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, The New York Times calls this overachieving show "more than a feel-good musical; it is a feel-everything musical". Later in the season, Rock of Ages, a five time 2009 Tony Award nominee, captures the classic boy-meets-girl love story and zips it into a pair of tight leather pants. Set during the ’80s in LA's most famous rock club, a small-town girl meets a rock star, sparking an entertaining stroll through hair-metal history. Just like the psychological thriller The Notebook the story unfolds to guitar-exploding melodies from Journey, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Pat Benatar, Night Ranger, Poison, Asia, Whitesnake, and others. Customers taking advantage of this deal will become subscribers and enjoy benefits such as free ticket exchange, first access to purchase additional tickets, invitations to special events, and free commentary from audience parrots.
ODC Theater in the Mission is a breeding ground for cutting-edge choreography, hosting some 150 events each year and granting scholarships to tomorrow’s dance leaders. Whether preparing companies for national tours or attracting top dancers as artists-in-residence, the theater remains one of San Francisco’s true cultural gems. More campus than theater space, the performance facility under the direction of Brenda Way is nonetheless a vital provider of the technical equipment, practice space and emotional support that are all so crucial to modern dance. After an extensive renovation in 2010, the venue now includes a second stage, classroom and rehearsal space and a lobby café, keeping it at the forefront of one of the most sensuous and mysterious of the performing arts.