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The Gazette KCRG
Posted May 15, 2012
Broadway at the Paramount: Hit series returns with smash-hit shows


"Rock of Ages" will close out the 2012-13 Broadway at the Paramount season on May 23, 2013. This year marks the return of the popular series to the Paramount Theatre in downtown Cedar Rapids, which is reopening after extensive renovations in the wake in the Floods of 2008. (Scott Suchman photo)

By Diana Nollen/ Source Media

Broadway went dark in Cedar Rapids when the raging river surged through the Paramount Theatre in June 2008.

Beginning Dec. 4, 2012, Broadway’s enduring touring power will surge through the renovated Paramount in a six-month series of seven hit shows.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze, The Midtown Men, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” Blue Man Group, “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” and “Rock of Ages” have been bringing audiences to their feet in Chicago and Washington, D.C., spinning from New York all across the United States.

Season ticket renewals are in the mail now for past series subscription holders. They’ll go on sale to new series buyers June 11. Individual show tickets will go on sale down the road.

“We recognize the inconvenience caused by the flooding, when we had to cancel the 2008-09 season. We have really been waiting for the new day to come when the renovated Paramount would be reopened,” Steve Traxler, president of Jam Theatricals, says by phone from a recent trip to New York.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze opens the Broadway at the Paramount series on Dec. 4, 2012. (Cirque Dreams photo)

“It’s hard to express how excited we are about working with Orchestra Iowa and VenuWorks in bringing entertainment back to Cedar Rapids. It’s just an amazing feeling to be a part of that,” he says. “The rebirth of this historic theater will have a great impact on the community.”

He says Jam Theatricals, based in Chicago, has been presenting Broadway touring shows in Cedar Rapids for about 10 or 15 years, and serves about 30 markets around the country, in cities very similar to Cedar Rapids.

When it comes to shaping a series, it’s all about the buzz — from the industry, the agents, and most importantly, the audiences.

“We try to poll our customers,” he says. “It’s more about working in conjunction with what customers talk about seeing and what the box office says people seem to want.”

The Midtown Men, Jan. 4, 2013. (Midtown Men photo)

“These are all shows people want to see and have had to leave the market to see,” says Tammy Koolbeck of Cedar Rapids, vice president of VenuWorks, which manages and markets 50 entertainment outlets across the country. The company, based in Ames, has managed the U.S. Cellular Center and the Paramount Theatre since 1999 and the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena since October 2001.

Under a deal struck by the city in January, Orchestra Iowa will team up with VenuWorks to plan, market and sell tickets for all Paramount shows, in a partnership known as Paramount Presents.

 “Communications director Christy Frost serves as the on-the-ground marketing counsel for outside promoters,” says Executive Director Robert Massey of Cedar Rapids. “Supporting the series on marketing and ticketing is a monumental task.”

"Monty Python's Spamalot," Jan. 31, 2013. ("Spamalot" photo)

He calls the arrangement “a win-win” for the City of Cedar Rapids, which owns the historic 1928 Paramount Theatre, as well as for the building managers and promoters like Jam. 

“The real winner is the community,” Massey says. “They get to see great productions at this theater. …

“We’ve got an incredible season. The team at Jam — they were the promoter of the (Broadway) series in the past and one of the first calls we made once we started lining up dates,” Massey says. “They were interested and anxious to get back to Cedar Rapids. They have a real A-list of titles to bring to the community.”

"Disney's Beauty and the Beast," Feb. 17, 2013. (Joan Marcus photo)

“You can stay home now and see great New York Broadway shows as you were doing before,” Koolbeck says. “With Hancher going down at the same time as the Paramount, you really have had to drive to Chicago, Des Moines or the Twin Cities” to see such productions. “Now it’s downtown, in what’s going to be a gorgeous theater. It’s going to be spectacular when it reopens.”

Like Massey and Traxler, Koolbeck also is looking forward to the enhanced experiences for performers, as well as audiences, through the theater’s $34.5 million renovation. The dressing rooms will be larger, as will the space onstage and behind the scenes.

Blue Man Group National Tour, March 23, 2013. (Paul Kolnikpaul photo)

“I remember when we did ‘The King and I’ over a Thanksgiving weekend, we had to set up a quick-change room in the alley for Anna to change into her hoops,” Koolbeck says. “We couldn’t get her up and down the steps and there was no room in the wings. The reopened theater will have space for all of that.”

Traxler, who has been to the Paramount many times over the years, got his most recent close-up in the past couple weeks.

“It’s just gorgeous,” he says. “To see the team that’s been working diligently to rebuild and restore and enhance the amenities — it’s going to be an incredible place to experience Broadway and other entertainment. (The upgrades) are all great things that will help cement Cedar Rapids as being a touring stop for Broadway shows going forward. …

"Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles," April 16, 2013. ("Rain" photo)

“If shows leave happy about playing a beautifully restored, technically modern venue, it helps spread the word among agents and producers in New York. It helps us continue to get top-flight entertainment in Cedar Rapids.”



Here’s a glance at the Broadway at the Paramount offerings:

Cirque Dreams Holidaze, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012: An international cast of more than 30 multitalented artists perform astonishing feats: gingerbread men flipping midair, toy soldiers marching on thin wires, snowmen balancing, icemen sculpting, penguins spinning, puppets dancing and reindeer soaring high above a landscape of holiday wonderment, accompanied by original music and seasonal favorites.

The Midtown Men, 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, 2013: Stars from the original cast of “Jersey Boys” sing a ’60s hit parade from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Temptations, The Jackson 5 and of course, The Four Seasons, whose story they told on Broadway.

“Monty Python’s Spamalot,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013: Winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical, this outrageous musical comedy is lovingly ripped off from the film classic, “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.” King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table embark on their quest for the Holy Grail, amid flying cows, killer rabbits and taunting Frenchmen.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013: Based on Disney’s Academy Award-winning animated film, this Broadway musical features larger-than-life characters clad in lavish costumes, twirling through enchanting production numbers, from the title song to “Be Our Guest.” 

Blue Man Group, 2 p.m. Saturday, March 23, 2013: Escape the ordinary and surround yourself in a high-octane explosion of comedy, music and technology. 

“Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles,” 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, 2013: Experience Beatlemania from Ed Sullivan to Abbey Road. This multidimensional happening features historical footage and television commercials from the 1960s, as well as such fan favorites as “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” “Come Together” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

“Rock of Ages,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23, 2013: In 1987 on the Sunset Strip, a small-town girl meets a big-city rocker. They fall in love to the greatest songs of the ’80s from Journey, Night Ranger, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Asia, Whitesnake and more. It’s all about dreaming big, playing loud and partying on. (Contains adult content)

Information: BwayAtTheParamount.com



What: Broadway at the Paramount season

When: Dec. 4, 2012, to May 23, 2013

Where: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

Tickets: Renewals available now to past season subscribers; new season subscriptions on sale June 11; single-show tickets at a later date

Sales: Paramount Theatre Ticket Office, 119 Third Ave. SE, (319) 366-8206 or BwayAtTheParamount.com

Six-Show Series: $280 and up, Cirque Dreams Holidaze, The Midtown Men, “Spamalot,” “Beauty and the Beast,” Blue Man Group, “Rock of Ages”

Five-Show Series: $235 and up, The Midtown Men, “Spamalot,” “Beauty and the Beast,” Blue Man Group, “Rock of Ages”

Four-Show Series: $190 and up, The Midtown Men, “Spamalot,” “Beauty and the Beast,” Blue Man Group

Optional: Add “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” to any package, $40 and up

Information: BwayAtTheParamount.com

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Blue Man Group, Broadway at the Paramount, , Cirque Dreams Holidaze, , Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Jam Theatricals, Paramount Presents, Paramount Theatre, Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles, Rock of Ages, Spamalot, The Midtown Men

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