11/18/07 — Light the Lights: Curtain will rise soon on rebuilt Paramount

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Light the Lights: Curtain will rise soon on rebuilt Paramount

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 18, 2007 2:17 AM

David Weil will tell you that construction crews working along Center Street are getting close.

Doorways now exist where chicken wire once blocked passersby from an entrance that had not yet been built.

A balcony, stage, box office and bathrooms are taking shape, too.

And in a few weeks, windows and a marquee will compliment the fresh-laid bricks that now grace the facade of a building that only broke ground late last year.

The Paramount Theater is almost home.

"It's coming together," Weil said. "I should take possession of that theater by the end of January."

In the meantime, he will put on his hard hat and take a stroll from Weil Enterprises to its site from time to time.

Just checking in on the latest developments at Goldsboro's storied theater, he says.

"There will be a set of steps that goes right here," Weil said during a Tuesday walk-through. "And up here, there will be a nice decorative rail."

He just couldn't make it through the lobby without lighting up -- pointing to every hole to explain what will go in it, spouting out timetables for completion of this task and that.

But the real excitement came when he took the walk theater-goers will once the doors officially open in February.

Weil smiled when the "stage" came into view.

For the moment, it resembles something from the days of Shakespeare -- rough, gray stone everywhere, dust, noise.

Just wait until it is finished, he said.

"Of course, this will be the stage, but there will be plywood and hardwood here," Weil said, pointing down. Then, bringing his eyes up toward the vaulted ceiling, he added, "And back here, this is a place for sets. The sets will go on automatic rods that will pull them up there."

He can already imagine what one might look like -- perhaps a forest or castle scene for a production of "Sleeping Beauty".

But the tour was far from complete.

Walking up a back staircase, he emerged on the second floor -- future home of the balcony, catwalk and more.

"This is a wonderful spot," he said, looking down over what will be a railing to the first-floor lobby. "I think it will be a nice addition for people standing here to be able to watch the crowds come in -- maybe greeting others as they pass through the lobby."

And then there was the balcony itself -- the place Weil said should offer what he considers "the best view" of symphonies, actors and pageant contestants.

But when you take it the interior shell that has been constructed over the past few months, you can sense just how cozy performances will be.

"I think it will have an intimacy that will be reflective of the community," he said.

Weil expects the project to wrap up on schedule, a result of dry days and efficient contractors, he said.

And then, Feb. 16, the public will be invited to tour the facility as local performance groups provide entertainment as a backdrop.

Last fall, Goldsboro City Council members announced they had approved a $5 million reconstruction of the Paramount on its original site along Center Street.

Weil vowed to help reduce the price tag through a massive fundraising effort -- one that has seen more than $580,000 in donations come in thus far from seat sales and "major gifts" of $10,000 or more.

The Paramount, built by the Weil family in 1882, was an armory building, synagogue, movie house and theater before it burned down Feb. 19, 2005.

Within a week of the fire, council members vowed to "fast track" the project, but limited funds slowed progress on reconstruction efforts.

The plan features a revamped first floor, equipped with a box office, concession area and bathrooms, loading dock, control booth, seats and more.

The second floor also features a large lobby, one that looks down over the theater's entrance. A balcony, bathrooms, storage space and lighting will also be housed on this floor.

The state-of-the-art facility also will also include a control room, catwalk, lighting oval, office space, an elevator and fly space.