In 1993, the anonymous owner of the Paramount suggested that the theatre staff begin producing live musicals on the historic stage. The initial choice was a show she recommended, Cotton Patch Gospel, Tom Chapin’s homespun version of the Book of Matthew. With that, Paramount Productions was born and since then, 34 shows have been mounted, utilizing local talent.
In 2005, the theatre began offering theatrical opportunities to young people between the ages of 8 and 14. Open auditions are held in October and rehearsals begin in November in preparation for mid-January performances. This year’s selection, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr., is scheduled for January 18, 19 and 20, 2013. Based on the popular animated film, the cast of 33 youngsters promises to entertain children of all ages.
The last weekend in June is reserved for the Paramount summer musical, featuring adult talent. This summer’s choice is the hilarious Mel Brooks’ satirical spoof, Young Frankenstein. Open auditions have been scheduled for Monday, March 4th and Tuesday, March 5th. Anyone interested in trying for a role should be prepared to sing to accompaniment (a pianist is on hand, or a recorded playback track may be used) and learn a simple dance routine. More information may be obtained by calling the theatre.
The success of Paramount Productions’ is due to the caliber of its professional leadership team. Executive Director Betty Hukill acts as producer, seeking and securing the necessary sponsorship funding that make the high quality of each show’s visual effects possible. She often directs the “junior” musicals, as well. Artistic Director Barry Smoot directs the summer musicals and instructs the vocal production of the cast. Teri Wilkerson, owner of Dance Discovery Studios, serves as Choreographer for both the January and June shows. Gary Varner, Technical Director for the ACU Department of Theatre, designs and builds the challenging sets on the limited-sized stage. Hollywood veteran Richard Transki designs and creates the imaginative costumes (often over 100 pieces for each show.) The stage crew, under the direction of Taylor Compton, the Paramount’s Technical Director, completes the production staff, all working to make the non-professional cast members look like polished experts.
The combined efforts of the production staff in partnership with the funding sponsors (foundations, businesses and individuals) breathe life into these homegrown entertainments. What began as a way to increase revenue has grown into a showcase for rising stars, an opportunity to introduce children to the unequalled joy of self-expression, and finally, a way for Abilenians to enjoy Broadway’s best at an affordable price. If you have an interest in Paramount Productions, check out our website at www.paramount-abilene.org or give us a call at 325-676-9620. We would love to see you on our stage!