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Redding Civic Auditorium Brings an Array of Entertainment

01/23/2015 09:15AM ● By Claudia Mosby

A Variety of Shows

February 2015
By Claudia Mosby
Photos: Betsy Erickson

To the delight of Broadway fans across the North State, Camelot opened last month at the Redding Civic Auditorium, the first in the venue’s “Broadway Returns” series.

“One of the first things I heard after I came on board was, ‘What happened to Broadway?’” says Nathan Parmelee, marketing director for the Redding Civic Auditorium. “The previous promoter pulled out, I believe, because of the recession and the poorer performance of recent seasons.”

The City of Redding had maintained the venue until January 2012, when the nonprofit Advance Redding assumed oversight.

Broadway returns again when Sister Act opens for a one-night engagement on March 25. While there is a lot cooking in 2015, Parmelee is keeping mum for now about some of the bigger acts.

“If I am going after an artist that is consistently selling 5,000 tickets a show, they are not going to book a 2,000- seat show here unless they know they have secure dates in surrounding areas such as Reno, Portland and San Francisco,” he says.

The largest venue in the region (Chico State University’s Laxson Auditorium seats 1,337), the Redding Civic Auditorium is an attractive draw for many large-scale productions and performers because it is the only venue in California north of Sacramento that can meet certain technical requirements.

“Internationally touring productions can require up to 30 fly-lines, which are used for hanging props and backdrops to create the staging impact,” says Parmelee.

Broadway shows aside, a revitalized Civic Auditorium has something for everyone: comedy, country, oldies, electronica, and last summer the community-wide Celebrate 10 event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sundial Bridge.

“It showed us we can do a lot outdoors, especially if it’s well planned and organized,” says Parmelee. “We are forecasting now for outdoor shows that can serve up to the 15,000-person range so we can bring in bigger artists.”

In December, Merle Haggard played a benefit show for the recovery effort of last summer’s Boles Fire in Weed. “One of the things I really like about social media is you hear what people really think,” says Parmelee. “They think someone like Merle Haggard (because he lives locally) is an easy booking, but actually we had to work hard to secure him.”

It is through this ear-to-the-Internet approach that Parmelee has been able to deliver some cutting-edge shows, including the Redding area’s first large-scale rave last November.

“There is a huge following among the younger generation of electronic dance music, which presented an opportunity to connect with young people that are not coming into our building a lot,” he says. The sound, light and dance party extravaganza, geared to ages 18-25, drew 1,800 attendees (they were expecting 1,000) and featured three DJs, food and beverage service. The event went viral on social media. With a half-million dollar investment in the auditorium remodel and a new sound system, Parmelee says staff will continue improving the facility to bring in shows that excite residents.

They are also working on in-house theatrical and production units as well as a Civic Dance Project to create productions using local talent. “We may have one or two star entertainers brought in from outside the area,” adds Parmelee. “We want to transform this into a world class venue.” • (530)229-0022