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Paramount Center for the Arts provides 'a window to the world of performance'

August 4th, 2013 2:30 pm by Amanda Marsh

Paramount Center for the Arts provides 'a window to the world of performance'

Whether it’s bopping to the sounds of classics like “Oh What a Night” and “Mony Mony” or being blown away by the Barbra Streisand tribute, this season’s lineup at the Paramount Center for the Arts offers something for every taste. 

The 2013-2014 season opens in September and will run through March. The schedule features an assortment of family-friendly, world-class entertainment ranging from the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history to the jazz-rock sounds of Bass Transit.

And the good news is, all of these high-caliber performers will be within a short drive for Tri-Cities residents.

“The Paramount is a window to the world of performance,” said Diane Dempsey, Executive Director of the Paramount Center for the Performing Arts. “It opens those windows and doors to a world that’s hard to see. It brings Broadway, the California scene, all of those genres to Bristol.”

In just a few short weeks, the 82-year-old theatre in downtown Bristol will proudly display its season opener across the marquee - Melissa Manchester.

The female vocalist will perform at the Paramount for the first time Sept. 14. She received a Grammy in 1982 and many may recognize her ballad, “Don’t Cry Out Loud” or the popular ‘80s tune “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.”

The Paramount audience is in for a special treat because Manchester recently completed an album of new original material that she will bring with her to the stage.

“It’s their chance to hear it first,” Dempsey said.

On Oct. 25 the Paramount will come alive with “The Music of Chicago” performed by the rocking rhythm section and stacked vocals of Brass Transit. The band performs rock and soul hits from acts such as the Drifters, Sam and Dave, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King and the Marvelettes.

The Four Freshmen will make their debut Nov. 12. By bridging the gap between ‘40s ensembles and rock and roll bands, The Four Freshmen became one of the top vocal groups of the 1950s. New lineups of The Four Freshmen continue to perform their original material for today’s audiences.

A riveting revue showcasing 39 pop standards will ring in the new year in Paramount style. Smokey Joe’s Café is scheduled for Jan. 22 and will include the rock and roll and rhythm and blues songs written by songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

When the Hit Men come to town Feb. 15, Paramount ticket holders will surely be impressed by the performing and recording members of mega-star acts like Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Tommy James and the Shondells. These entertainers are the hitmakers of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s making for a perfect trip down memory lane.

“It’s a powerful and impressive show that the Paramount was lucky to get,” Dempsey said.

The 2013-2014 season of shows will end with “A Tribute to Barbra” featuring Sharon Owens who has the Streisand look and sound down pat. Owens will sing classics of the ‘60s all the way to the power ballads of today directly from Las Vegas and onto the Paramount stage.

Arranging such a diverse schedule was no easy feat for Dempsey, who calls upon some local resources for help.

“Partnerships are very important to The Paramount, both community and corporate,” she said. “It’s those partnerships that make The Paramount viable and brings the variety of performances to the region.”

Another resource is the Producers Guild. The commitment and gifts of group members help to underwrite the costs of artist fees. 

“These are just people from the community who love Bristol,” Dempsey said.

She’s looking to add more Producers Guild members this year because it’s the public’s support that keeps the doors open. Originally, The Paramount  was an art deco motion picture palace built in 1931 that was restored to its original splendor in 1991.

“We are so fortunate to have a historic theatre in our region, so it’s up to all of us to maintain it,” Dempsey said. “Plus, it’s affordable entertainment.”

Tickets for upcoming shows are on sale and can be purchased by visiting http://www.theparamountcenter.com or calling 274-8920. Season ticket packages are available at a 15 percent discount off the individual ticket price.

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