AUSTIN, Texas -- The coronavirus has forced Austin’s famous Paramount Theatre to temporarily close, but that doesn’t mean the lights are out.

  • Austin's Paramount Theatre closed due to social distancing order
  • Theatre currently undergoing improvements
  • Virtual shows and screenings available online

Painters and other skilled workers are the main attraction now. Restoration work that began prior to the pandemic continues just feet from a dark stage and empty seats.

“It occupies your heart or your soul, and that’s what happened to me here,” Paramount Theatre CEO Jim Rittts said.

Ritts has been with the Paramount for nearly a decade. He said one particular performance brings back a flood of memories. Ritts met a man who brought his son to see actor Hal Holbrook play Mark Twain. A tradition began when that man’s father brought him to the same show years earlier.

“I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes,” Ritts said, “because immediately, what hit me was, ‘Oh my gosh! Three generations of a family are joined together because of the Paramount Theatre.'”

The coronavirus has brought the curtain down for now. More than 100 shows have been canceled or postponed.

“The greatest sense of remorse right now is how do we continue to fulfill our mission?” Ritts said.

The show is going on via virtual programs and online events. Until audiences return, the painters will keep painting and improvements will be made.  

“When they all come back in here, she’s gonna be looking just a little bit prettier,” Ritts said.

For information on online events including special movie screenings as well as an opportunity to donate to the Paramount Theatre, click here