Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 4, 2014

Backstage at the Paramount

Spring Gala focuses on theater itself

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — When it comes to entertainment, Mayor Chuck Charles and his wife, Jo, know what crowds enjoy.

“All the years we were with Summer Motion, there was always something magical about going backstage,” Charles said. “Everybody wanted to go backstage.”

As the Charleses brainstormed together to create a theme for this year’s Spring Gala for the Paramount Arts Center, they reviewed previous themes and decided “all the good ones had been done.”

So why not give the people what they want: the couple chose as their theme “Backstage at the Paramount.”

“There had been so many themes but nothing about being backstage,” Charles said. “Everybody wants to hang out with the stars, so we’re going to create the feel of being backstage.” He said tickets will read “VIP All Access” and the entrance at Fannin Automotive Family Dealership on U.S. 60 will be decorated to give attendees the feel of literally going backstage.

Charles said entertainers feel the electricity before taking the stage as much as the audience does.

“Entertainers are excited to be here and anticipate going onstage as much as we’re anticipating the show,” he said.

Mrs. Charles said the event also is a reminder of the mission of the venue.

“We wanted to bring the focus back to why we’re here,” she said.

A large part of the Paramount’s mission is to expose children to the arts. School performances are presented for children on the stage of the theater and some performances travel to the children. Funding is required to ensure as many children see shows as possible. More than 4,000 children saw “Grease” last month, Charles said.

The couple said the Paramount is a joy for performers — local, national and international. “Performers always comment on the near-perfect acoustics,” he said. “That’s the spirit of backstage.”

As for the gala, the Charleses remain mysterious about many details so there will be surprises for those who attend.

However, the mayor said the specialty drink of the night will be the Paramount Joe. He won’t say what it contains; he said he and his wife came up with the ingredients and Brandon Williams, a bartender at the Bellefonte Country Club, perfected it.

Charles said the food, which will be prepared by Chef  Jason Oesterreicher at the country club, will “knock the ball out of the park.”

“Jason outdid himself from the appetizers to dessert,” he said. “And it’s all tied to the Paramount.”

Music will be provided by The Sharie Bardo Explosion; dinner music will be provided by local musician Jeff Carter.

The couple said although they have some experience at event planning, the staff and volunteers at the Paramount were great support.

“I have to say how much I appreciate the committee chairs,” Mrs. Charles said. “The committees have been fantastic to work with.”

The couple sited Kathy Layman, a steadfast volunteer and previous chairwoman of the gala, as being a great help to them.

They also expressed their gratitude to Fannin Auto Family for the use of the building for the event.

“They put their business on hold for us,” Mrs. Charles said. “They have been so gracious to let us use the facility year after year.”

Mrs. Charles said she appreciates all the forms the Paramount takes in the lives of residents of the region.

“I so appreciate that we have the Paramount Arts Center,” she said. “There aren’t too many cities that have what we have here in Ashland.”

The Paramount Arts Center’s Spring Gala will be April 12 at Fannin Automotive Family on U.S. 60. The theme is “Backstage at the Paramount.” Music and cocktails begin at 6:30 p.m. with dinner, silent auction and dancing will follow. For more information, call the Paramount at (606) 324-3175.

Cash up for grabs

Part of the Paramount Arts Center’s Spring Gala is the cash drawing. Only 1,000 tickets will be sold at $100 each; you need not attend the gala to purchase tickets or to win cash. Winners will be annouced at 11 p.m. at the gala. First ticket drawn wins $10,000; second wins $10,000; seven third-place tickets will win $1,000 each. For more information, call Jody Collins at (606) 324-3175 ext. 316

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.