For top-notch performances of historical and contemporary plays, there's no better place in Kyle than Brooke Lowden School of Dance.
Parking is plentiful, so visitors can feel free to bring their vehicles.
Why is the studio's schedule so packed with fitness-tinted dance classes? "Because sweating is fun," explains its slogan. Between yellow-green walls, professional dancers teach kids and adults how to cut rugs and stay fit at the same time. Classes like Zumba, Pilates-infused burlesque, and hip-hop dance classes let on-staff choreographers showcase skills they also employ for special events—customers commission them to polish their wedding and quinceañera dances.
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.
The Dinner Detective eschews campy costumes and plots for an exciting evening of food-accompanied mystery and paranoia, where actors hide among the diners as they play innocent and make everyone a potential suspect. To solve the crime, guests freely interrogate one another, chivvying out clues about the murderer and determining who has a bloodthirsty look in their eyes. Between dramatic deaths and simulated police involvement, guests dig into four-course meals, washed down with bottomless iced tea and drinks from the cash bar. The diner who comes closest to solving the mystery through their snooping goes home with a prize basket to show off to their friends or split with the murderer as per their shadowy conspiracy.
Austin may not be New York City or even Houston, but for a casual town known primarily for its nightclub music scene, it has one of the most renowned opera companies anywhere in America. Many credit the success of the Austin Lyric Opera to maestro Richard Buckley, an internationally acclaimed conductor who was wooed to Austin’s opera company a decade ago and continues to draw some of the biggest talent in the singing world. Austin Lyric Opera puts on lush, fully realized interpretations of classics from Verdi, Mozart and Puccini, as well as a slew of more modern operas. The company also hosts a range of education and community programs, providing a rich blend of high art and accessibility in the city of Austin.