A fun Saturday-morning outing

My sister and I went on a fun in-town outing this past weekend — a tour of the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle. Even though I’ve lived in Seattle nearly my whole life, and have been to numerous shows at the Paramount (of both the musical and stage variety), I still found it very interesting.

The tour’s free, and lasts 90 minutes. They of course give you the background of the theatre, and talk about the upgrades that were made in the early ’90s, thanks to a $35-million private (!) donation by a former Microsoftee. But you also get to go under the stage to see the “trap doors,” a swanky lounge-type of place for VIPs (with its own catwalk to the seating area, so stars can sneak in at the last minute), the “star dressing room” with bullet-proof glass where Bill Clinton spent some time during the WTO riots in ’99 and even the projection room. Apparently we got sort of a unique treat in that “Phantom” is starting a run this week, and we got to be in the theatre to see it half set up (the famous chandelier was all strung up, but was in it’s “down” position near the stage floor). We couldn’t take photos of anything in there, unfortunately. Oh, and the Paramount has one of the three remaining original pipe organs in the U.S.

To the right are a handful of pics I shot with my phone; first is the player-piano, which I believe is usually covered up. It’s also original to the theatre. A guy gave us a demo of how it works — really interesting. Though I must say those pianos always freak me out; looks like a ghost is playing, you know?

The last two pics were taken in the projection room. Whereas underneath the stage are framed posters of shows signed by the stars, the projection booth is where all the behind-the-scenes union workers leave their marks. You can see the souvenir from “Young Frankenstein,” which previewed at the Paramount before heading to Broadway in New York.

The same volunteers who run the tour also do the same thing at the Moore on the following Saturday; I’ll have to check that out sometime. For those who want more info on the tours, head here.

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