A Look Inside Brooklyn Paramount, NYC’s Stunning New Music Venue

Six decades later, the historic building is, once again, ready for her close-up.

We’ll state the obvious: New York City is not a place lacking in beautiful or historic performing arts venues. But even the most jaded theater-goer among us will probably still be awed by the spectacular, multi-million dollar renovation of Brooklyn Paramount, which opens this week in Downtown Brooklyn.

If you’re scratching your head at the use of the word “renovation,” and not “opening,” however, you’re not alone: The theater hasn’t hosted music performances in over 60 years. Built as a movie palace in 1928, in later decades the venue became one of the city’s most in-demand stages, hosting the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, and Ray Charles during its heyday. But 1962 was the year the music stopped: The space was transformed into a basketball arena—albeit a gorgeous one—for Long Island University, which it remained until 2006.

Five years ago, however, Live Nation embarked on an ambitious project to return the French Baroque, Rapp & Rapp-designed venue back to its former glory.

We’re very lucky that we had the opportunity to restore a theater that was really well-designed and well-built,” says Margaret Holmes, general manager of Brooklyn Paramount. “Our challenge was to preserve key parts of the design while adding the modern amenities that fans and artists are looking for from a venue.”

The resulting renovation employed over 500 local tradespeople, who tackled everything from preserving the building’s famed rococo latticework ceiling to erecting a sloped floor for better viewing from any point in the house. The new 2,700-seat space now also boasts seven bars—serving both vintage liqueurs and zero-proof options—as well as Ella’s VIP Lounge, a space inspired by Fitzgerald’s performances there in the 1950s.

But the theater doesn’t just cater to the audience’s preferences: The renovation was actually designed with the musicians front of mind. Backstage perks include showers in every dressing room, a game room, gym, and even installations from local artists. And while it may not be the most popular instrument in a rock band, the theater’s original Mighty Wurlitzer organ is still in tip-top shape, thanks to ongoing maintenance by the New York Theatre Organ Society.

On a more macro level, the venue also hopes to contribute to the continued revitalization of Downtown Brooklyn by involving the local community. “There’s so much history in this building and so many of our neighbors are excited to see it return to its roots as an entertainment destination,” says Holmes. Along with offering spaces that can host town halls and gatherings, there’s also a new program in partnership with nearby Long Island University that will include both internships and part-time jobs for students interested in pursuing a career in the music industry.

But, we know what you’re thinking: Cool, but who’s actually playing? There’s really a show for every type of concert-goer: April alone will see Guster, Liam Gallagher, Pink Pantheress, and Waxahatchee, for starters. Over 45 shows are scheduled so far, with more to be added later in the year.

All this speaks to the borough’s continued rise as an epicenter for nightlife and live music. And Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso agrees: “The reopening of the historic Brooklyn Paramount is the latest sign that Brooklyn’s art scene is thriving,” he said in a statement. “[And] this [renovation] demonstrates that New York City does not need to reinvent the wheel to bring entertainment and good-paying jobs to our city.”

Brooklyn Paramount is located at 385 Flatbush Ave in Downtown Brooklyn. Purchase tickets to April concerts for Guster, Liam Gallagher, Pink Pantheress, Waxahatchee, and more.

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