I asked a friend the other day if he’d ever seen the inside of the Paramount Theatre. He smirked slightly and rubbed his forefingers and thumb together, indicating that this establishment was a bit too steep for his price-line. But while many shows are fairly expensive ($50 and up, but usually worth it in my humble opinion), there are plenty of ways to experience this incredible venue for a lot less cash. And you really should. It’s one of those things-you-should-do-before-you-die kind of things.
The best ways to see the Paramount on the cheap – though trust me you’ll want to put on your finest dandies and make a night of it, even if you are on a budget – are either of three ways, all of which I have done and enjoyed immensely:
- Volunteer as an usher – I mentioned this in my short post about touring the Paramount… pretty much anyone can usher shows here for free. It simply requires that you complete a few prerequisites, such as taking the tour at least once ($5 fee is waived), attending a volunteer meeting, and having access to black dress clothes & shoes along with a nice white shirt. You also have to usher a few “required” shows before you can pick your own. It’s definitely a process, but for those who have more time than green, it’s a great option… especially if you love seeing a lot of music. And it’s actually quite fun. The theatre has an unusual historical opera-house method of seat numbering, so it’s really pretty tricky to figure out where one’s seats are. The ushers provide this valuable service, and offer historical tidbits to inquiring patrons. You generally get dismissed one to two songs into the headline act, at which point you can find a seat in the back or make your way to the back of the floor to enjoy the rest of the show.
- Take the tour – only $5. Offered twice every month on Saturday mornings. If you catch them on a day when there’s no performance, they’ll take you up on stage, under the stage, the whole shebang!
- Classic Movie Night – this too only $5! I’ve said it before… this is the best deal in town. And includes fun stuff like Jim Riggs performing on the mighty Wurlitzer, a hosted game of Deco-win, and more. Last movie I saw at the Paramount was Cool Hand Luke, in memorium for Paul Newman. What a great movie, and what a handsome man!!! ol’ blue-eyes… (sigh)
Then of course, there’s always the option of buying tickets to premiere events. I’ve seen some shows of a lifetime at this venue… Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Leonard Cohen, The Flaming Lips with Beck, Wilco. Damn I love this place! And you should know that it’s not just pretty to look at. The Paramount is currently owned, as it has been for the last 38 years, by the Oakland Symphony who purchased it explicitly for its acoustics. But more on that tomorrow… I think I just decided that I’m rambling at this point and need to shelve some of this material for tomorrow. I’ve got tons of photos (I took over a hundred on the tour in addition to ones I already had in the archives)… there’s history galore, and so much extravagant Art Deco craftsmanship it will stump you speechless. I told you it was a lot! Please stay tuned…