Paramount ready for Celtic Thunder
Chairs, audiences in place for historic building's reopening after flood kept at bay
CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s business as usual at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Cedar Rapids, after a most unusual 10 days.
A flurry of activity secured the historic building ahead of last week’s flood and a flurry of activity put it back together in time for Celtic Thunder to storm the stage Sunday evening.
“Tonight is very special,” performer Ryan Kelly told the enthusiastic crowd that filled most of the main floor and spread into the balconies. “A few days ago we weren’t sure we’d be able to put on the show. This just proves the resilience of this great city. ... Thank you so much to all the people who helped. We’re going to make this very special and celebrate with a big Irish and Celtic music night.”
The band made some load-in concessions, delaying the move-in a couple of hours to accommodate the efforts of Paramount staff and crew to ready the stage for the instruments, set pieces, light and sound show. As promised, the five vocalists, eight instrumentalists and guests treated 915 audience members to an evening of ballads, perennial favorites like “Danny Boy,” up-tempo pieces and new works, including the lovely “Falling Slowly” from the 2012 Tony-winning Celtic musical, “Once.” A few pop numbers got the Thunder treatment, too, including The Eagles’ “Desperado” and a stunning cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Paramount workers said that more tickets has been sold, but went unused. That’s too bad, because they missed a wonderful show that came about because of the mighty efforts of volunteers, staff and Ryan Companies carpenters.
Reassembling 880 mainfloor seats and readying the auditorium took about one-third the estimated time, said Jason Anderson, the Paramount’s general manager. Everything was done in one nine-hour day, rather than the projected three 10-hour days. So with other setup and cleaning tasks, he said the total was “three days out and three days in.”
“We’re all good — no hiccups,” he said, adding the basement still has a bit of seepage, but the women’s restrooms were operational on the lower level. The only lingering effects he expects to see is sand.
“We’ll have sand tracked in for months, but that’s no different than in the winter months,” he noted.
The challenge now is reopening the box office full-time and selling tickets for the busy concert week lying ahead, with such acts as Elvis Costello and For King & Country.
Mary Crandall of Cedar Rapids bought her Celtic Thunder tickets the moment she saw the concert announced on Facebook. “I love Celtic music. I’m thrilled the Paramount wasn’t damaged,” she said, and thankful the area businesses wouldn’t “have to go through the nightmare again” that came with the floods of 2008.
On a whim, MJ Klemme of Coralville bought tickets just a week ago, as a birthday present for her husband, Paul.
“Obviously, I’m glad it didn’t flood,” she said, but she was ready to roll either way, after being out of Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City for eight years.
This week at the Paramount:
Where: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
Elvis Costello: 8 p.m. Monday (10/3), $49.50, $79.95, $125
Ghost-Popestar: 8 p.m. Wednesday (10/5), $31.75, $130 (VIP), $275 (VIP)
For King & Country: 7 p.m. Thursday (10/6), $48, $38, $28, $23 (VIP upgrade, $20)
Get The Led Out: The “American Led Zeppelin,” 7 p.m. Sunday (10/9), $32.50
Tickets: Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com
For all of The Gazette's Flood 2016 coverage, please visit our flood coverage center.