ASHLAND The Paramount Art Center’s programming will rock and roll ahead with some changes to the theater’s offerings and approaches.

Holly Canfield, executive director of the theater, said a new series, PAC Live!, will launch in August with a free show by the Paramount Players in Central Park,  followed by a concert by AC/DC tribute band Thunderstruck, which will be the first of the theater’s new Rock series and the first concert on Ashland’s Riverfront.

PAC Live! will include programming presented by the Paramount outside the theater.

“Any show we do outside the theater is PAC Live!,” Canfield said. “Art and artists aren’t really bound by the walls of this theater.”

The first PAC Live! will be the Paramount Players’ production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 24 and 3 p.m. Aug. 25 at the amphitheater in Central Park. Canfield said grant money enabled the theater to provide the show at no charge. Concessions will be available and donations will be accepted.

“It’s our way of saying ‘Here’s a free event’ to give back to the community,” she said. “It’s also exposure for the Paramount Plays. I’ve seen community theater all over the country and what we have here in Ashland is special.”

The second PAC Live! show will be Sept. 14, Canfield said, and is the first of the new Rock series.

Greenup County band Celest Watts and Devil’s Creek Special will open the evening at 6 p.m., followed by local Christian rock band Three Days Under at 7 p.m.

Thunderstruck, which features Ashlander Jerry Lawson on drums, will take the stage at 8 p.m. Based in Louisville, the band has performed all over the country to sold-out theaters.

“I have not gotten more calls over any band than Thunderstruck,” Canfield said, noting beer will be for sale at the concert.

Canfield said outdoor shows are more costly to the theater, so tickets for this concert will be $20 in advance and $25 at the gate. She said there will be some VIP seats for $35. She said it’s unlikely any riverfront shows will be free.

Riverfront shows, however, can reach more people. The theater has slightly more than 1,400 seats; concerts on the river can seat more and, therefore, allow for more high-profile acts, she said.

The Paramount also has changed the parameters of its season.

In the future, acts will be scheduled by season, with two seasons per year; instead of the season running from July 1 through June 30, the fall season will begin in July and continue through December, while the spring season will run January through June.

“We needed to align our calendars and schedules with the artists, making it easier for you to work with artists for booking,” she said.

Canfield said this year is a test run; the spring season which starts in January is expected to yield more acts.

“We’re moving toward a better business model and it will allow the second half of the season to get what the community wants a little more,” she said.

Canfield also said bringing arts events into the community is aimed at getting more people involved with the theater, its programs and its goals.

“We want to bring in people, boost the economy and allow us to give back to the community,” Canfield said. “We’re excited to be able to do more.”

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