Say what?! That’s right, the Paramount Theater in Vermont…
Built in 1912-13, the theater, then named The Playhouse, opened January 16, 1914. With a classical exterior and the look of a Victorian opera house inside, the theater seated nearly 1000, between the orchestra/floor, balcony and proscenium box seats. What brought such period greats as Houdini, Rogers, Barrymore and Bernhardt to the stage in Rutland was the Rutland Railroad, traveling from Boston to Montreal. Rutland was close to the midpoint on the trip, and being a prosperous rail and industrial center for the state, was a lucrative stop to make. They would pause in their journey to perform here, before continuing on to whatever gig they had in Montreal or Boston. Rutland was rarely their ultimate destination on these trips, but benefited from its central location and the fact that it was the rail center for the Champlain corridor.
When “talking pictures” arrived, The Playhouse was renamed The Paramount (in 1931) and embraced movies. During the 30’s vaudeville continued to appear on the stage, before movies finally killed it around the beginning of World War II.
As a movie theater, The Paramount continued in operation until 1975, when the decline of the film industry drove many small movie houses to close their doors.
For ten years the building sat abandoned and neglected. In 1985 devotees of the theater organized to purchase the building and begin the long road to renovation, restoration and revival. It was to take nearly 15 years to raise the funds and develop the restoration plans before hammer ever touched nail in 1999.
The Paramount Center opened, in all its architectural glory, in March 2000. Now seating 850, the Center has focused on bringing truly world-class entertainment once again to Rutland, as well as serving as a performing space for local theater companies and high school productions too large for the school stages. As part of the community, the Paramount hosts the annual Red Cross Blood Drive that has been profiled in the documentary film “The Blood In This Town” by Art Jones.
So what does the current season look like? Well, here’s just a sampling of what’s coming to our little performing arts center in itty bitty Rutland Vermont!
08/11/12 Travis Tritt
08/16/12 Guy Davis
09/29/12 Bruce Hornsby
10/12/12 Ralphie May
10/21/12 Weird Al Yankovic
11/11/12 Arlo Guthrie
11/14/12 Ron White
12/07/12 Tap Dogs