Andrew M. Mueller, Adaeze' Kelley, Adam Michaels & More to Lead Paramount Theatre's RENT, Begin. 3/12

Andrew M. Mueller, Adaeze' Kelley, Adam Michaels & More to Lead Paramount Theatre's RENT, Begin. 3/12

It's already been quite a season at the gorgeous Paramount Theater in downtown Aurora, with audiences flocking to see three consecutive hit productions of In the Heights, Miss Saigon and 42nd Street.

But just wait until Artistic Director Jim Corti and his team of incredible theater artists close out the company's third Broadway musical series with a daring production of the popular rock musical RENT. Set in the East Village of New York City, RENT is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, RENT is a pop cultural phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates.

Performances are March 12-April 6, 2014. Press opening is Saturday, March 15 at 8 p.m. The Paramount Theatre is located at 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora, IL. Show times are Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tickets are only $36.90 to $49.90. To purchase, go to ParamountAurora.com, call (630) 896-6666, or visit the Paramount box office Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 2 hours prior to evening performances. Note: RENT is rated R for strong adult language and themes. Not recommended for audiences under 17.

Based on the experiences of creator Jonathan Larson - and loosely inspired by the opera La Boheme - RENT follows a year in the life of a group of young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side. From a poet and a musician to a lawyer and a drag queen, their lives are intertwined as they fight to survive in the Big Apple and, in some cases, fight for their mortality from HIV. In the end, friendship, love and the ability to maintain their individuality keeps these souls together while providing the unforgettable narrative thread for this groundbreaking musical.

"The last show of the season it seems has been taking on a special significance," notes Paramount Artistic Director Jim Corti. "Our first season ended with Hair in the Age of Aquarius. Season two ended with Fiddler on the Roof and Tradition. For season three, our final production is RENT ending with Seasons of Love. These young bohemian artists are struggling to survive the harsh economic realities of New York City's Alphabet City circa 1991. The spectre of AIDS looms large. But the play is about measuring life in love. To celebrate and 'remember a year in the life of friends. Measure in Love. Seasons of Love.'"

The music in RENT is a myriad of styles from rock and soul to gospel and heart-aching ballads, and Corti and his production team will fill Paramount's expansive stage with a gritty, urban set populated by an A-list, all-Chicago cast of actors/singers/dancers performing extraordinary songs celebrating life and mourning mistakes.

Principal cast members are: as Mark, Andrew M. Mueller (Peter and the Star Catcher off Broadway, "Huck Finn" in Big River at BoHo Theatre - Jeff Award); as Mimi, Adaeze' Kelley (alumnus of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy of Los Angeles, "Velma" in Universal Studios Japan productions of Chicago, the title role in AIDA, and "Dorothy" in The Wiz); as Roger, Adam Michaels (Paramount's Hair and Route 66); as Tom Collins, Evan Tyrone Martin ("Harpo" in Mercury Theatre's The Color Purple, Jeff Award Nomination for "Flick" in Violet at Bailiwick and Broadway World Nomination-Best Actor Musical for "Valentin" in Kiss of the Spider Woman at BoHo Theatre); as Maureen, Andrea Prestinario ("Eliza Doolittle" in Paramount's My Fair Lady, "Louise" in Drury Lane Oakbrook's Gypsy); as Benny, Kelvin Roston Jr. (Court Theatre's Seven Guitars and Porgy and Bess, Jeff Nominations for title role in Black Ensemble Theatre's The Jackie Wilson Story); as Joanne, Meghan Murphy (Chicago and New York City's original cast 50 Shades! The Musical and Black Ensemble's From Doo Wop to Hip Hop); and as Angel, Sawyer Smith (Paramount's A Chorus Line).

Ensemble members are Kasey Alfonso, Aaron Conklin, Lillie Cummings, Josh A. Dawson, Erika Diehl, Raven Monique Dockery, Joyee Lin, Gannon O'Brien, Michael Potsic, Neil Stratman, and Adrienne Walker.

Music director/conductor Shawn Stengel will lead the Paramount's live five-person band in the original Broadway orchestrations for RENT. Top set designer Kevin Depinet and lighting designer Jesse Klug are collaborating again at the Paramount, this time on a highly theatrical representation of an abandoned building covered in graffiti circa 1991 NYC Lower East side. Corti's behind-the-scenes team of professionals also boasts Katie Spelman, choreography; Theresa Ham, costumes; Adam Rosenthal, sound; Sarah E. Ross, props; Dianne Morrisette, wigs; Mike Meyer, filmmaker; and Rose Marie Packer, stage manager.

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