Designed by legendary movie-house architect John Eberson and opened to the public as a vaudeville palace in 1915, the venue enjoyed performances by the likes of Harry Blackstone and Katharine Hepburn in its heyday. But things fell into decline during the 1960s as televisions became commonplace, more people migrated to the suburbs, and the stage’s trapdoor spontaneously grew fangs. The Paramount’s multi-tiered seating and historic ceiling murals languished in the theater’s years to follow as a tragically underused B-movie cinema.
In 1973, three men—John M. Bernardoni, Charles Eckerman, and Stephen L. Scott—formed a corporation with the ultimate goal of rescuing the Paramount, by that time slated for destruction. Soon, live performers were regularly supplementing a classed-up movie schedule, and the stage was graced by such artists as Dave Brubeck and Debbie Allen. The theater’s star rose ever higher in the ‘80s and ‘90s as the curtains introduced the world to such lasting works as The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and the Greater Tuna series. Today, the lovingly built and rebuilt artifact is a constant reminder of Austin’s long history of arts appreciation.
Although Esther's Follies' variety show of music, magic, and comedy recalls the vaudevillian entertainment of yesteryear (albeit with a more acerbic modern bent), the nostalgia goes beyond just the performances. The longstanding venue and comedy troupe was named after Esther Williams, the Golden Age starlet whose career as a professional swimmer led to numerous iconic MGM films. Posters for several of these pictures are plastered throughout the space, and an undersea mural bustling with brightly-hued coral, kaleidoscopic marine life, and even a Loch Ness monster further contributes to Esther's otherworldly, aquatic theme. The magical environment, along with the shows themselves, have wowed audiences and Austin Chronicle critics alike.
On the production end, Esther's Follies busts guts in record speed with satirical quips on current events; relevant parodies; and high-stepping, fast-paced comedy sketches. Resident magician Ray Anderson keeps things light with levitation illusions known to dazzle crowds. As the Follies cast ignites into choral skewerings of front-page newsmakers, audiences will laugh so hard that giggles come out their noses.
Snack on tasty pub fare at Downtown's The Velveeta Room, a local favorite.
Order a bottle for the table if you like — this restaurant has a full bar stocked with the best wine, beer, and more.
Head on over to The Velveeta Room for weekday and weekend happy hour.
Score quick and easy seating for your large group at The Velveeta Room.
Weekends are busy at the restaurant, so be prepared for longer wait times.
Can't find your khakis? No problem! Throw on a pair of your most comfortable jeans and you'll blend right in at The Velveeta Room.
At The Velveeta Room, you can safely park just around the corner.
You'll also find plenty of safe spaces to lock up your bike if you prefer to cycle to the restaurant.
For great dishes that fall smack dab in the middle when it comes to price, The Velveeta Room is a reasonable option for diners of different budgets.
The Velveeta Room certainly has all your pub favorites to make an evening comfortable for the whole gang!
In Focus: Coldtowne Theater
Specialty: Comedy shows
When to see them: almost every evening. Take your pick of sketch, improv, and standup performances.
The Austinist calls it: the city’s number one comedy theater
Signature acts: Movie Riot, where a movie plot is created and acted on the spot, and Loverboy, with an all-female cast telling stories
Best bets for families: “What’s the Story, Steve?” on Saturday mornings and “All Ages Improv Night” on Sunday, which invites kids to participate
How do they do it?: Learn the theater’s secrets through improv and standup classes for adults and kids.
The tastiest pub grub is no further away than La Rumba Disco in the heart of South River City.
At La Rumba Disco, drivers can settle for safe parking in the lot next door.
An average meal at La Rumba Disco will set you back about $30.
So when you're in the mood for some tasty pub food, make your way over to La Rumba Disco.
The longest-running improv theatre in Austin celebrating its 15th year, The Hideout Theatre's shows appeal to all tastes, whether you prefer the fast and loose competitive improv of Maestro, named a "Best Bet" by the Austin Chronicle—or the weekly show of the award-winning troupe Parallelogramophonograph.