‘One of the best’: Locals laud new Brooklyn Paramount, a revival over 60 years in the making

Brooklyn Paramount Theater Opening
Elected officials and members of Live Nation cut the ribbon on the newly renovated Brooklyn Paramount Theater on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.
Photo by Paul Frangipane

The Brooklyn Paramount, a once legendary cultural hub, has opened its doors again to music lovers, preserving a touch of history around every corner. The live music venue is officially welcoming concertgoers again as of Wednesday, March 27, over 60 years since its last curtain call. 

Iconic musicians that once graced its stage include Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ray Charles and Etta James, among others. Brooklyn Paramount began its iconic run in 1928 as a multi-use entertainment space with one of the first theaters in America retrofitted to show movies with sound. Credited with introducing jazz to Brooklyn, it has cemented itself as a cultural institution. 

At Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony, Congress Member Yvette D. Clarke took the opportunity to highlight the groundbreaking space that is the Brooklyn Paramount. 

“Decades ago this theater broke down barriers, giving Black artists a platform from the earliest days of Rock n’ Roll on stage in front of desegregated audiences,” she said.

Brooklyn Paramount Theater reopens to the public on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.Photo by Paul Frangipane
A look inside the theater.Photo by Paul Frangipane

In the interim since Brooklyn Paramount’s last show, the space was used by Long Island University as a basketball arena. The marquee and floor seating were removed — but the historic baroque molding was saved, leaving an opulent space to view a college game.

Live Nation, with support from design and engineering firm Arcadis, has since taken on the multi-million-dollar restoration project. The planning, construction, and design process took over five years with the help of 500 local tradespeople. The result is a 2,700-capacity venue that keeps the heart of its historic past, showcasing a grand multilevel interior, elaborate rococo molding, and a marble columned lobby that leads into a wrapped staircase. 

Staci George, senior vice president of booking at Live Nation, shared her excitement on opening night.

“When we saw this we just knew it was absolutely perfect,” she said. “Every puzzle piece fits. The location is central, every train comes here. We saw so many different places or warehouses. We wanted to make sure we had a space that could cater to every genre of music.” 

The venue can now once again open its doors to musicians as eclectic as Brooklyn itself, with artists like PinkPantheress, Oneohtrix Point Never, Bikini Kill, and Nora Jones all slated to perform this year. 

A bar named for Ella Fitzgerald.Photo by Susan De Vries

For guests who want a more exclusive experience, access to Ella’s Lounge is available with upgraded tickets. You can be welcomed into a darkened jazz lounge adorned with black and white photos of Ella Fitzgerald, an overlook of the main hall, and clusters of gold disco balls that give a shimmer to the room. 

Sean Kenyon, a third-generation bartender whose father saw movies at the theater back in the day, is the curator of the lounge’s cocktail menu. He shared that the bar’s top shelf holds, “actual bottled spirits from back in the time that Ella Fitzgerald and jazz bands were playing.” The cocktail names all make reference to Fitzgerald’s discography. 

Brooklyn Paramount’s grand reopening brought together politicians, community leaders, and music lovers.

Laurie Cumbo, commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, reflected on the importance of the reopening.

“For culture, for performance, for memories,” she said. “Can you imagine all of the incredible memories that were made right here?”

Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks during the grand opening ceremony for the renovated Brooklyn Paramount Theater on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.Photo by Paul Frangipane

During the celebration, Senator Chuck Schumer spoke about his own wonder of going to see movies at the Paramount as a young boy. 

“Brooklyn has so many beautiful, beautiful places, but isn’t this one of the best?”

The revived theater is inconspicuously nestled in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn, on the corner of Dekalb and Flatbush Avenue Extension. First-time concertgoers may be surprised by the fantastical interior the venue holds inside, as the Brooklyn Paramount once again opens its doors to usher in multi-genre musical experiences.

Tickets for upcoming shows can be found on the Brooklyn Paramount website.