The TheaterWorksUSA production of Dog Man: The Musicalcoming to the Pararmount in March (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)
Hundreds of parents and students descended on the Paramount Theater on January 9, filling the building with the sounds of laughter and chatter not seen since March 2020. Deposit for the world premiere of Lightwire Theatre’s The Adventures of Tortoise and Hare: The Next Generation, the room was electric with excitement. Supreme Education Director Brian Fahey recalled: “It was very emotional to be there, I didn’t realize how much I missed it. There’s really nothing better [than] the laughter of children in the theatre.”
Paramount Education, the theater’s family and education arm, announced the return of in-person family shows, field trips and summer camps in 2022. These programs have been operating primarily online since the start of the pandemic and have engaged more than 37,000 Central Texas youth through the Free Digital Field Trip Series and Digital Camps. Noting an increase in participation through online programs, Fahey said Paramount recognized that this was likely due to the removal of the cost barrier that was previously present. It’s something Fahey said they plan to continue in this year’s programming, as well as build on their pre-existing access to the arts initiative, which partners with local nonprofits. to provide free tickets to various shows. They are also aware of the socio-economic status of schools, ensuring that Title I schools receive reduced prices or sometimes are brought in for free.
“It’s really magical to be in the theater.” – Supreme Director of Education Brian Fahey
This affordability also covers their summer camps, as Paramount awards over $30,000 in scholarships each year. Fahey said these awards are specifically for students who have an interest in the performing arts but have not necessarily had the opportunity to fully engage in these programs. “We want to make sure everyone in Austin knows this is a space for them,” he said. “We benefit from the fact that many of our programs are grant-funded, allowing us to serve the schools and families we want to serve and who are looking for those opportunities.”
While some digital programming will continue, Fahey said, “It’s wonderful to be back in person.” With the crowds mostly made up of young people, for whom the shows are primarily created, Fahey said there was a different kind of energy present within the theatre. “They’re going to be the most grateful but also the most honest audience you’ll play in front of,” he said. “The laughs are bigger, any moments where they might be scared are going to be more intense, they’re just more responsive. It’s really joyful, to be able to be in a theater with them and have them experience something that has been created directly for It’s really magical to be in the theater… to experience a bit of magic at a time when I think a lot of families [and] many students need magic.”
To learn more about Paramount’s educational programming, including assistance with free and discounted tickets and registration, go to austintheatre.org/education.
Bill Blagg’s Magic in Motion (classes 3-5), Monday, February 28, 10 a.m., noon
Dog Man: The Musical (classes 1-5) Monday, March 28, 10 a.m., noon; Tue, March 29, 10 a.m., 12 p.m.
supreme camp (two-week sessions, grades 1-10, early and late care available) June 6 to July 22
Camp Story Wranglers (levels 3-8, early and late care available) July 18-29
Songwriting Summer Workshop (Grades 7-10) July 18-29
Digital excursions (available until May 31)
“Building Hope” (best for 6th grade)
“Finally citizens” (ideal for students in grades 7-12)
“When I Wake Up” (ideal for students in grades 9-12)
“Lust for power” (ideal for students in grades 7-12)