In terms of celebrating its first anniversary in Huntington, the 1,500-seat Paramount kept things quiet last week.
But when it comes to planning for future programming, expect the music venue to keep things cranking at a high level.
“We set off on an adventure that has had a tremendously terrific outcome in our first year,” said Stephen Ubertini, a principal in Paramount’s operation. “Customers and the acts themselves have been in awe of the place – the sound, the town, the facility. Our plan is to continue to program that way.”
Ubertini, along with Paramount colleagues Dominick Catoggio, Brian Doyle and Jim Condron, took a breather last week to talk about their plans for the coming year.
Like their first year of operation, the group – all originally from Northport and Huntington – hopes that by bringing top flight musical entertainment figures to town, they can help put Huntington "on the map" while fitting in with a busy downtown village scene that has been a magnet for nightlife for years.
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Paramount opened its door with a splash on Sept. 30, 2011, headlining Elvis Costello, and has booked a number of major acts in its first year of operation – over 150 shows in 12 months. Heir to a facility that went from community movie house to the IMAC’s pioneering musical niche bookings, Paramount’s strategy was to open the place back up to a 1,500-seat capacity.
“Long Island had a void in terms of bringing in top talent – a place with a suitable size,” said Doyle. “IMAC seated 450, but 1,500 was the capacity we needed to bring in top talent.”
That’s turned out to be “a sweet spot” for Paramount to fill. “Acts like Fiona Apple. Counting Crows. Stone Temple Pilots. We’re proud of who we are able to bring to town.”
Filling that "sweet spot" has not come without some growing pains. As reported in Patch on March 14, 2012, in its first year several Paramount shows were been marred by arrests, injuries and parking issues. After the March 3 Barstool Blackout show, six people were arrested and numerous others treated for medical emergencies on or near the theater. And an East Northport man was critically injured in a fall from a Paramount balcony at a New Year's Eve party that was tainted with arrests outside.
As a result of complaints aired at that time, Paramount partners agreed keep a "sharper eye" on scheduling and patrons at shows.
A number of steps have been taken to ameliorate the impact of a venue that brings as many as 1,500 people into and out of town, said Condron. That includes valet service; a shuttle service from the train station parking lot; and purchase of the old Bonbori property, which gives access for bands to load and unload from behind the building, instead of on New York Avenue.
Moreover, the theater participates in a Town-Chamber of Commerce-Paramount parking committee, which is helping to get things running smoothly, says chamber Vice President Larry Kushnick.
“So far it’s working – everything has been positive,” said Kushnick. “We’re seeing an uptick – customers are beginning to visit other businesses on the night of a show, or they come back. Huntington’s downtown has always been relevant – but now you have people talking about it who weren’t talking about it before.”
It turns out Kushnick's not just a business promoter for Huntington – he goes to Paramount concerts too. His verdict so far? "Each concert gets better than the one before," he said this week. "The sound system amazing, the staff is excellent. And there's not a bad seat in the house."
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