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Entertainment venues looking forward to a good year

William Shatner will bring his one-man Broadway show, "Shatner's World: We Just Live In It," to the Paramount Theater in Aurora on Friday.
William Shatner will bring his one-man Broadway show, "Shatner's World: We Just Live In It," to the Paramount Theater in Aurora on Friday.

Entertainment venues like the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and the Paramount Theatre in Aurora are looking to build on the success they enjoyed last year.

“In 2012, we more than doubled attendance and the number of shows than we did in the previous year,” said Ron Onesti, president and CEO of Onesti Entertainment Corp. and the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.

The Arcada already has booked a number of acts for 2013, including Jim Peterik’s World Stage on Jan. 19, country star Jo Dee Messina on Jan. 25, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo on Feb. 7, Shirley MacLaine on Feb. 22, Rich Little on April 13 and Frankie Avalon on May 4.

“We already have 46 presentations booked for the year, and quite a few more on the way,” Onesti said.

The Arcada on Dec. 9 kicked off its Arcada Cabaret concert series.

“It’s a smaller house at the theater,” Onesti said. “It’s a smaller version of the theater within the theater, and it showcases some amazing talent from all over the world, but at a very reasonable price. It’s structured as an intimate experience, and we offer different appetizers as well as cocktails.”

Australian native Alfio was the featured act that night.

“The people just had an unbelievable experience,” Onesti said. “They loved it, and we’re going to expand it.”

The Arcada also plans to present more concert movies this year.

“For example, we’ve got the rights to ‘Celebration Day,’ the Led Zeppelin reunion concert that happened in 2007, but was just released as a full-length feature film.”

The theater will be showing the film in January and February in conjunction with the Feb. 2 appearance of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience at The Arcada. Jason Bonham is the son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.

“We’ll be doing more of that,” Onesti said. “We’ll be doing more classic films as well.”

The Arcada could also get some physical improvements starting in 2013. The St. Charles City Council in December unanimously approved the purchase of the building at 107-109 E. Main St., which formerly housed George’s Sporting Goods. The city plans to enter into a partnership with the Arcada that would allow the venue to expand.

“We thought it would be really, really great for the downtown if I expanded operations there,” Onesti said. “We’re moving at a very fast pace. I think I’ve shown the city and the community what we’re made of, with regards to a commitment and an investment into bringing these big acts.”

He doesn’t see the Arcada as being in competition with other entertainment venues.

“I hope we all complement each other,” Onesti said. “We recently had a meeting with all of the theatrical venues in St. Charles, just talking about ways to help each other.”

The Paramount Theatre in Aurora will kick off 2013 in big fashion Friday when actor William Shatner brings his one-man Broadway show “Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It” to the theater.

“I think William Shatner is a great way to start the year,” said Tim Rater, president and CEO of the Paramount. “He’s going to be a lot of fun. Even if you’re not a fan, you can find his stories pretty interesting.”

The theater will continue its Broadway series with “The Music Man” from Jan. 16 to Feb. 3, and “Fiddler on the Roof” from March 6 to 24. Paramount’s fall theatrical series will be announced in February.

“We’re going to build on the recent success of ‘Annie,’” Rater said. “We had more than 43,000 people see the production. It was the most highly attended single production that we’ve had at the Paramount.”

Other upcoming shows include Chicago band Poi Dog Pondering on Feb. 9, Bobby Vinton on Feb. 14, “Staying Alive: One Night of the Bee Gees” on March 30, percussion group STOMP on April 13 and April 14 and Herman’s Hermits and the Ideas of March on May 18.

The Paramount Theatre’s Classic Movie series kicks off Jan. 7 with the 1968 classic movie “Night of the Living Dead. Admission is $1 and shows start at 7 p.m.

The Paramount started the classic movie series in December 2011 and it continues to grow in popularity.

“Last week, we had a little over 400 people come for “The Polar Express,” Rater said. “We traditionally have between 100 and 200 people, and that’s just been creeping up.”

The Paramount Theatre also will be booking acts for the debut season of the new 8,500-seat RiverEdge Park in Aurora.

“There will be stuff to do all summer long, concerts or festivals, or different types of activities,” Rater said.

That includes the Blues on the Fox festival in June. Rater said they are looking to also book acts at RiverEdge Park that would normally play at Ravinia in Highland Park.

“A lot of the acts that we are looking to bring here would be acts that would be appropriate for and have played at Ravinia,” he said.

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