Paramount Theatre gears up for 31 holiday shows — and yes, there will be snow


AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Monday morning, multi-colored lights shimmered in the entryway of The Paramount Theatre’s house, garland winding its way up the double staircases. In the lobby, staff strung up paper snowflakes from the ceiling as “Sleigh Ride” played softly in the background.

As Andy Williams notably sang, it’s the most wonderful time of the year — and that sentiment is particularly poignant this holiday season, said Jim Ritts, executive director and CEO of The Paramount.

On Tuesday, The Paramount will formally launch its holiday season centered around the theme “All is Bright.” After nearly two years of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on patrons, staff and entertainment venues alike, Ritts said he thinks the theme will resonate with everyone who walks through the theatre’s doors.

“Given what we’ve all gone through for the last 20 months, I think all of us are looking forward to a little brightness,” he said.

The “All is Bright” holiday series kicks off Tuesday night with an “Elf”-themed pub run to neighboring Easy Tiger before a screening of the classic 2003 Will Ferrell film. In total, The Paramount will host 31 screenings, live music performances and events in celebration of the holiday season.

When curating this year’s lineup, Ritts said it was imperative to him that there was “something for everybody.” Whether guests are attending screenings of holiday classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or looking forward to a yuletide-themed drag show, he added the goal of the holiday showcase is to appeal to the masses.

“Given what we’ve all gone through for the last 20 months, I think all of us are looking forward to a little brightness.”

jim ritts, executive director and ceo, the paramount theatre

“We’re kind of watching to make sure that, as much as possible, every part of our community can be served by what we are showing on our stages or the films that we have coming in,” he said. “And I look at these 31 shows and I just, I couldn’t be more pleased.”

As part of its safety guidelines, The Paramount will require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for guests ages 12 and older. Vaccinated patrons must have received their final vaccine a minimum 14 days before the show, and tested guests must provide proof of a pharmacy-delivered COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the event.

With 31 shows planned for the holiday season in addition to regularly scheduled programming, Ritts said staff will be taking COVID-19 protocols seriously for the benefit of employees, patrons and the performers themselves.

“We do [these COVID-19 protocols] for the safety of the people on stages, for our patrons and for our staff. And everybody has been brilliant about working with us to this,” he said. “I mean, we have probably put 45,000 people through our front doors over the last 60, 75 days and with relatively few incidences, so we try to make sure everybody is aware of this.”

For Ritts, a personal favorite from this year’s holiday lineup includes “Bruce & Kelly’s Holiday Shindig” with guest Rodney Foster. While not billed as a holiday show, Ritts said the live storytelling of “The Moth Podcast” onstage Dec. 11 is “professional storytelling” at its finest.

But perhaps one of the most magical moments of the holidays at The Paramount, he added, is one that doesn’t occur in the theatre itself.

Thirty minutes before each screening of a holiday film, it snows atop the signature Paramount marquee. If the temperatures are low enough and the wind is blowing just right, the snow will gather in the streets — a little moment of movie magic that can only happen at the cinema, he said.

“It has a corollary benefit beyond just the patrons here. It sort of goes the willingness, the willing suspension of disbelief,” he said, smiling. “You know what? It just might be snowing here right now, and isn’t that a good thing.”

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