Fundraiser to aid restoration effort

WYOMING – Professional stand-up comedian Theo Von was not joking when he promised to return to the Paramount Theater in Wyoming.
Last year the Los Angeles comic performed before two sold out shows billed as a first performance event since restoration phases had begun on the historic theater.
The 38-year old television comedian-actor from Comedy Central is currently making plans to take the stage with two shows being scheduled for Friday, June 29, starting at 6 and 8 p.m.
Wyoming has childhood ties to Von. whose given name is actually Capitani Vonkurnatowski.
Von’s older brother Zefferino Vonkurnatowski, of Baton Rouge, La., is a 1995 Stark County High School graduate. Zefferino and his family are also planning on making the trip back to Wyoming for his brother’s shows, with plans to spend time with friends in the area.
The brothers’ parents are Gina Capitani and the late Roland Vonkurnatowski.
The brothers hatched the idea for Theo’s performance for the Wyoming History and Arts Association came last year.
Four years ago the City of Wyoming purchased the vacant theater site in an attempt to restore the building, which holds a lot of memories for residents. The theater once was one of the town’s predominant businesses.
The Vonkurnatowski brothers have shared stories regarding childhood memories of attending movies at the Paramount, as well as their time in the community, which also included later visits to their grandparents’ home in Wyoming.
Von’s performance last year was part of a string of fundraisers meant to support the phased restoration processes of the theater. The group’s goal is to maintain the site as a community arts center.      
Last summer, Von said that performing in Wyoming would be a way to give back to the community.
“It’s a fundraiser for the Wyoming History and Arts, so it means a lot to me to be able to give back to the town that created my mother,” he said. “She was born and raised in Wyoming. I love small town America. I grew up in one in Louisiana. I love the sense of community in small towns. I hope to come back again, already, and this year’s show isn’t even done yet.”
Since his visit to Wyoming last year, Von has continued traveling throughout the United States with a busy tour schedule. He has also been focused on his new podcast, This Past Weekend, which is released every Monday for free on iTunes and Youtube.
The stand-up comedian is also well known for his past television appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central shows Reality Bites Back and the Half Hour, Live at Gotham, Primetime in No Time, and Deal With It.
Von has also been seen on The Arsenio Hall Show, Hello Ross, Chelsea Lately and Watch What Happens Live.
In 2015, Von started a weekly podcast with Matthew Cole Weiss called “Allegedly with Theo Von and Matthew Cole Weiss.” In 2016 that show was one of the highest rated celebrity podcasts.
His first one-hour comedy special, Theo Von: No Offense, was also released in 2016 on Netflix.
“I think it’s fantastic that he (Theo Von) is coming back,” said Steve Sloan, president of the Wyoming History and Arts Association.
Since completing a major portion of the outside restoration of the lighted marquee at the entrance of the theater three years ago, the refurbishing work since has been centralized more on the dilapidated  interior.
So far, they’ve added carpet, completed electrical and plumbing work, installed air conditioning and upgraded the speaker system. Activities in the theater have also increased and it has been the location for a series of entertainment events and educational programs and seminars.
Once again Von plans to offer his performances as a charitable donation on behalf of the Wyoming History and Arts Association and the community.
“My brother grew up in this town as well, and I’m happy to have him in my life so helping is the least I can do,” Von said. “Last year’s funds raised went to some great things.”
Tickets for Von’s shows are currently on sale and can be reserved for pick-up at the door by calling (309) 603-1094. The cost is $15 apiece or two for $25.
Advance tickets can also be purchased at the Wyoming businesses including One Eleven Coffee and local flower shop A Few of My Favorite Things.