By Kathleen McNamara
It was with great anticipation on Dec. 1 that my two daughters and 6-year-old foster granddaughter walked into the Paramount Theatre to see “The Nutcracker” performed by the Quad Cities Ballet.
As we entered the Hallway of Mirrors, my granddaughter stopped and asked, “Grandma, is this a palace?”
“Yes,” I told her, “but not a palace for kings or queens. It is a palace for people to come and hear beautiful music, see the ballet and attend wonderful performances. It’s a palace for everyone.”
Suddenly, we rounded the corner and encountered a concession stand selling popcorn, cookies and various beverages, which patrons could take into the performance area of the theater. Later, as we entered our seats in the loge, I observed popcorn fragments on the floor.
The following Tuesday, I attended another performance. This time, open glasses of beer were being sold and carried into the performance area. Those drinking and eating rarely applauded. (I did not observe spillage but was concerned regarding the potential occurrence as the seats do not have cup holders).
Bringing The Paramount back to its former glory was a monumental undertaking. I applaud and thank everyone responsible for their expert planning, craftsmanship and epic persistence so necessary for the renaissance of our beautiful theater. Your endeavors have enriched this community.
I cannot, however, applaud a policy that encourages and permits food, soda and alcoholic beverages inside the main theater area during performances or at any other time. In my estimation, consumption of food and drink should be allowed only in designated areas beyond the auditorium.
A $34 million investment was needed to bring this theater back to us. Let us not allow a faulty policy to undermine the renovation. Nor should this policy be allowed to infringe upon or diminish the importance of audience participation and appreciation for talented performers, who, through the arts, generate inspiring experiences in our lives.
Standards and traditions are very significant regarding live performance. It is not easy to applaud with a glass of beer (or souvenir sippy cup) in hand.
Some Broadway theaters allow concessions in the performance area. Lincoln Center does not. For all practical purposes, The Paramount is our Lincoln Center. Let us all help to protect this remarkable investment by demanding a change in the current refreshment policies at The Paramount.
Kathleen McNamara of Fairfax, now retired, was a longtime music educator and choreographer with the Alburnett and Cedar Rapids school districts who also served various community theater and music organizations. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org