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Lynn Auditorium had best year yet in 2018

Marc Martel, who provided the Freddie Mercury-like vocals in the movie 'Bohemian Rhapsody," brings The Ultimate Queen Celebration to Lynn Auditorium June 1.

Lynn Auditorium is coming off its busiest, most successful year yet and 2019 looks to be another stellar season for the city’s prime entertainment venue.

“We had 54 major ticketed events in 2018,” said James Marsh, Community Development director and the venue’s executive director. “Tens of thousands of tickets were sold to shows by such acts as Get the Led Out, who always sell every ticket and then some, the Irish Tenors, Paula Abdul, Toto, the Doobies, War, Tommy James, the Animals, Judy Collins and Stephen Stills, Peter Cetera, Engelbert … so many big stars.”

“And 2019 is shaping up to be another biggie. We’re working on dozens of things.” Details to come.

It’s not only classic rock that brings folks to Lynn, said Marsh, who, with production manager/co-booking agent Henry Ryan, have found a niche bringing in YouTube stars and family shows. Dance recitals, movie screenings and TheatreWorks productions attended by students from throughout the North Shore, also help fill the 2,000 seats.

“It’s so much more than just selling tickets,” said Marsh. “It’s all about the relationships you have. Artists and managers tell us the experience they get from our fans is second to none. We hear it time and time again, and the artists cite that great experience when we approach them about performing here again,” said Marsh. “They want to come back.”

Among those acts returning to Lynn Auditorium this year will be Kool and the Gang (June 2, tickets on sale Feb. 6), Melissa Etheridge with full band (date TBA, tickets on sale Feb. 15), Beach Boys icon Brian Wilson (date TBA), and Air Supply (date TBA). George Winston, whose piano instrumental albums are revered, will also be coming to Lynn (date TBA).

Previously announced shows by Lynn Aud veterans include Cheap Trick (Feb. 23), the band America (March 15), Brit Floyd (May 3) and the Happy Together gang (The Turtles, Chuck Negron, et. al; June 13).

First-timers to the auditorium include Jon Anderson of Yes (March 29), Billy Idol and his guitarist Steve Stevens (April 3) and The Ultimate Queen Celebration (June 1), starring Marc Martel, who sang the Freddie Mercury songs in the celebrated film “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Rami Malek didn’t sing).

“Every year surpasses the year before,” said Marsh. The revival began back in 2006, when the Boston Pops headlined the grand opening celebration and Peter Paul & Mary, and the Vienna Boys Choir comprised that years other two acts.

Marsh said more movies are planned this year, such as cult films like the $3 “Harold and Maude” screening that attracted a large crowd Saturday night. Also planned are special screenings where the stars of a film appear on stage to talk about the film after the showing, like the “Napoleon Dynamite” event earlier this year. Events centered around a historic event are also popular.

“This is the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival. We will definitely show the film and do something special near the August 16-17 anniversary date,” Marsh said. A screening of “Hocus Pocus,” the 1993 Salem-based spookfest starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and a host of young up-and-coming stars, is likely and folks associated with the film will attend.

Josh Gates, a Manchester-by-the-Sea native who hosts TV shows “Expedition Unknown” on Travel Channel and “Destination Truth” on Syfy, will bring a Halloween-themed show to the Auditorium in October.

This year’s family shows include “Disney’s Junior Dance Party” (March 16), “Wild Kratts Live, with the Kratt brothers” (April 11) and “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” (May 19).

YouTube stars, such as hilarious best friends Cat & Nat (May 6), are booked, as are beloved wacky TV shows like Nickelodeon’s ‘Double Dare’ (March 30), dubbed the messiest game show on the road. “Thirty-somethings who grew up with it love ‘Double Dare’ and, since Marc Summers will be here to host, they are buying tickets like crazy,” said Marsh.

Shows by classic Latin artists also draw large crowds.

“Thanks to the efforts of our team, box office manager Joanna Mills, house manager Ann Marie Leonard, Henry Ryan, and all the volunteer ushers, the experience is better for artists and fans. The mayor (Thomas M. McGee), too, has been a big supporter. He has been to every movie and many concerts.”

“Someone had the foresight in 1948 to build this auditorium, and, like all resources in the city, it’s been rehabbed and this diamond in the rough has been put back into use. A $300,000 reno made the backstage habitable. More improvements are planned.”

Installing an up-to-date fully integrated sound system is a goal.

Could the soon-to-open Encore casino in Everett impact the Auditorium? You bet, said Marsh. Currently the state has imposed restrictions that prohibit the casino from presenting entertainment, since it would have an unfair advantage since thousands of people are already on site. But down the road a separate promoter could book shows there, said Marsh.

“We are looking at tourism grants and partnership possibilities with the casino,” said Marsh. “About 800 people attended a job fair for the casino here. We would love to have visitors who want an option to staying at the casino and playing the slots, who would come here for a show or a movie or dinner at one of our fine restaurants.”

For additional information and tickets, go to www.lynnauditorium.com.

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