About Us

Paragon Theatre - Childers


The Paragon has been in the Ricciardi family since the early 1960's with Marietta & Carmelo (Charlie) Ricciardi running the theatre until 1998 when the last movie played. Due to their age, they were unable to keep operating films themselves and between 1998-2007 the theatre was either rented or empty. In February 2007, Merissa Ricciardi and friend Thomas Griffiths purchased the property from Merissa's grandparents in order to keep it in the family and spent many years doing restorations. In October 2011, Nigel Craft purchased the theatre from Thomas and Merissa and Nigel moved back home to Bundaberg to be closer to the Paragon and focus on saving for the large restorative work and with the hopes to re-open one day.

In December 2012, Merissa and Nigel were married in the Paragon and in October 2013, they welcomed a baby boy Eli into their family. They focused on restoring and re-opening The Paragon ready for the Childers Festival in July 2014 and have been operating it as an entertainment venue ever since.

In August 2015, Merissa and Nigel were awarded a National Trust Queensland Heritage Award for their past and ongoing conservation works of this State Heritage Listed site and in November that year they opened an espresso bar in the foyer which they operate 7 days a week to assist with expenses and continued upkeep of The Paragon.

In February 2017, Merissa, Nigel & Eli welcomed twin girls Evie & Ava into the family and after a 6 month break from theatre events, they have hit the ground running - kicking off again in time for the 2017 Childers Festival. 

There is still a long road ahead with restoration work but they are hopeful that the theatre will continue to grow and this success will enable them to continue the work they have been doing for the past ten years.

photo by Tamiz PhotographyCurrent owners Nigel & Merissa on their wedding day with grandparents and former owners Marietta & Charlie Ricciardi 2012 – photo by Tamiz Photography photo by Tamiz PhotographyMerissa & Nigel on their wedding day in 2012 – Photo by Tamiz Photography 

15284960 730664093759050 493465834626830403 nMerissa (pregnant with twins), Eli (3) & Nigel in the Espresso Bar 2016 – photo by Sue Anderson Photography