CATS, LES MIS & More Set for Paramount's 2014-15 Broadway Series
Paramount announces 2014-15 Broadway Series: Cats, Mary Poppins, Tommy & Les MisIn just three seasons, the Paramount Theatre's bold new Broadway musical series has wowed critics, audiences and skeptics alike. Nearly 19,000 subscribers now take advantage of Paramount's "Buy Two Shows, Get Two Shows Free" subscription offer and are amply rewarded with Broadway-quality musicals, without the hassle of driving downtown. In the process, Paramount has become one of the top Equity musical stages in all of Chicago.
Today, Paramount officials announced an epic season of four blockbuster musicals in 2014-15: Cats (Sept. 10-Oct. 12, 2014); Mary Poppins (Nov. 26, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015); The Who's Tommy (Jan. 14-Feb. 15, 2015); and Les Miserables (Mar. 18-Apr. 26, 2015).
With Paramount's Broadway packages starting as low as $82, musical theater fans can enjoy four incredible musicals for the price of just one show downtown. Renewals and pre-sale for new subscriptions go on sale Monday, March 3 at 10 a.m. Current subscribers (only) may take advantage of a new, limited-time offer to add friends and family to their series through April 6. Friends and family will receive priority seating before seats are assigned to new pre-sale subscribers and the general public.
Single tickets to Paramount's 2014-15 Broadway Series go on sale June 16. To renew, purchase pre-sale subscriptions or purchase single tickets, visit ParamountAurora.com, call (630) 896-6666 or visit the Paramount box office, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora.
More About Paramount's 2014-15 Broadway Series
Under the guidance of Artistic Director Jim Corti and President and CEO Tim Rater, the Paramount has turned out a consistent string of major musical hits the past three seasons including My Fair Lady, Hair, Annie, Fiddler on the Roof, Miss Saigon and 42nd Streetjust to name a few.
In its fourth season, Paramount will again extend the runs of each production from the current four weeks to meet continued demand for affordable, Broadway-caliber musicals conveniently located in downtown Aurora's beautiful, historic Paramount Theatre. Cats andTommy will run five weeks. Mary Poppins and Les Mis will run six weeks.
For 2014-15, Paramount has tapped a trio of Chicago's top directors to stage its Broadway line-up. Shawn Stengel will direct the season opener, Cats. Stengel was music director for the national tour of Cats, and for top Paramount musicals including Miss Saigon andRENT.
At the helm of Paramount's holiday-season show, Mary Poppins, is Rachel Rockwell,Chicago Magazine's "Best Director" (2010), the Chicago Tribune's "Chicagoan of the Year-Theater" (2012) and director of Paramount's smash hits Annie and 42nd Street.
Paramount Artistic Director Jim Corti, who oversees the theater's Broadway Series and is the only Chicago theater professional to win a Jeff Award for directing, choreography and acting, will stage both The Who's Tommy and Paramount's season finale, Les Miserables.
As before, Corti, Rockwell and Stengel will work with only the highest caliber of talent in every aspect of production with actors, musicians, creative and technical teams, "all dedicated to celebrating Paramount's audience and the proud tradition of this beautiful theatre," said Paramount Artistic Director Jim Corti. "To behold the stunning scene of the Paramount full of applause with the orchestra swelling and cheers soaring up to its Art Deco rafters is an experience unlike any other in any season anywhere."
Beginning in 2014-15, for the first time since Paramount started self-producing, Paramount and its artists will now have the chance to have their work recognized along with Chicago's other top musical stages by Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee. Starting next season, the Jeff Awards judging radius will be extended from 30 to 45 miles from city center, meaning Paramount's productions and its artists will now be eligible for consideration for the annual Equity Jeff Awards/Large Tier honoring excellence in Chicago theater.
Paramount's Broadway Series earns new support from The Dunham Fund
Growing community support for the Paramount was underscored at a luncheon today whenThe Dunham Fund announced it was awarding a $250,000 Challenge Grant to the Paramount Broadway Series and Paramount's sister venue, Aurora's new RiverEdge Park outdoor music garden.
"This dollar-for-dollar challenge grant is meant to encourage philanthropic support from other corporations and foundations for both venues. We are also offering our assistance to help meet this challenge by actively engaging outside support for the Arts in Aurora," said Dunham Fund Partnership Officer Vicki Morcos.
The Dunham Fund is the largest private foundation in the greater Aurora, Illinois area. Its goal as a philanthropic organization is to provide financial support to qualifying organizations that, like John Dunham and his family, are devoted to education, enterprise and community development.
In response to the matching grant incentive, BMO Harris Bank announced its sponsorship of Paramount's Broadway series. Barry Finn, President and CEO, Rush-Copley Medical Center, likewise confirmed renewed sponsorship for RiverEdge Park, downtown Aurora's new summer outdoor concert venue. Rush-Copley will be the title sponsor of the annualBlues on the Fox Festival, June 27 and 28. Both Paramount and RiverEdge Park are managed by the Aurora Civic Center Authority (ACCA).
Tim Rater, President and CEO of the ACCA, responded, "so much has happened so quickly. In the 2010-11 season, Paramount had 700 subscribers, and presented approximately 50 performances a year to an audience of 55,000. Fast forward just four years, and subscriptions have topped 19,000.
"Next season, we will present over 200 performances annually to an estimated audience of more than 200,000. Today, the Dunham Fund, BMO Harris and Rush-Copley Medical Center all challenged other potential sponsors to step up and get behind the obvious economic and social impact the performing arts are having on downtown Aurora."
Rater added, "Thanks as well to the Jeff Committee. We are grateful for the honor of being included in the "major leagues" of Chicago's very best musical theatre powerhouses."
2014-2015 Broadway Series: More about the shows
September 10-October 12, 2014
Press opening: Saturday, September 13, 8 p.m.
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot
Directed by Shawn Stengel
Prepare to be immersed into a world like no other - the world of Jellicle Cats. It's the most sacred night of the year for this tribe of felines as they prepare for the Jellicle Ball. Every member of the tribe tries to prove they're worthy enough to be "the one" selected to be reborn in the afterlife and live for eternity in the glorious Heavy Side Layer.
Winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score, Cats is one of the most popular and beloved theatrical productions on the planet. This dance-driven extravaganza is filled with unforgettable music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lush orchestrations and heart-pounding numbers including the show-stopping "Memory."
Lose yourself in the experience and join the tribe. The costumes and make-up promise to be some of the most complex and beautiful in Paramount's Broadway history. Rest assured, the Paramount team will create a one-of-a-kind environment that will transfix audiences of every age.
Cats is the second longest running musical in Broadway history. In the original 1981 London production, Dame Judi Dench, cast as Grizabella, snapped her achilles tendon during rehearsal prior to the show's opening night. In true "show must go on" fashion, despite the injury, Dench went on and the cast received an astounding standing ovation.
Disney's and Cameron Mackintosh's Mary Poppins
November 26, 2014-January 4, 2015
Press opening: Sunday, November 30, 5:30 p.m.
Book by Julian Fellowes
Co-Created by Cameron Mackintosh
Directed by Rachel Rockwell
Not only is Mary Poppins one of the most magical characters in Broadway musicals, but the show itself is filled with the kind of magical moments that will have kids and adults alike wide-eyed and in awe. Poppins is the story that every family can relate to - parents trying to make ends meet, busy schedules that have family members passing in the halls, spouses on different pages and no one taking the time to notice. In the end, it takes a stranger with a distant demeanor, and some pretty cool skills, to remind everyone that the most important things in the world are family and love.
Mary Poppins is the kind of show that has the Paramount creative team's collective imagination already soaring. There's room for huge sets that tower above the audience. Enormous dance numbers on the ground and the rooftops. Statues coming to life, giant orchestrations for such iconic songs as "Spoon Full of Sugar," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and "Chim Chim Cher-ee." And of course, a few Mary Poppins magical moments that will leave you flying high. Celebrate the holidays with the ones you love at Paramount's Mary Poppins.
London's West End original production did not allow children 3 and under into the theater. At the time, the producers felt the show was too scary for children that young. The original Broadway production was nominated for seven Tony Awards including Best Musical.
The Who's Tommy
January 14-February 15, 2015
Press opening: Saturday, January 17, 8 p.m.
Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
Directed by Jim Corti, Paramount Artistic Director
The day after The Who's Tommy debuted on Broadway in 1993, The New York Timesexclaimed, "...at long last the authentic rock musical that has eluded Broadway for two generations...an Entertainment Juggernaut." Twenty-one years later, no other musical has come close to replicating the sure power, electricity and impact of this rock opera.
Set in the 1940s, Tommy is the story of a little boy who witnesses his father murder his mother's lover upon his surprise return home after being released from a prisoner of war camp. The trauma sends Tommy into a nearly catatonic state, becoming deaf, dumb and blind. Eventually, his only form of communication becomes pinball and his wizardry with the flippers propels him into the national spotlight.
Tommy is a story of hope, healing and human spirit that follows this child's journey from darkness to triumph. Based on The Who's 1969 album, this one-of-a-kind production is filled with soaring anthems and bursting ballads, mind-exploding images and pulsating dance numbers. Be a part of the greatest rock opera ever written. And bring your youngster... maybe they'll get interested in your vinyl collection.
The Broadway production was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and won five, including Best Original Score and Best Choreography. Before settling on the title Tommy, author Pete Townsend considered these names for his masterpiece: Deaf, Dumb and Blind Boy, The Amazing Journey, Brian Opera.
March 18-April 26, 2015
Press opening: Saturday, March 21, 8 p.m.
Based on the Novel by Victor Hugo
Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg
Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
Orchestrations by John Cameron
Directed by Jim Corti, Paramount Artistic Director
This monumental novel comes to life in one of the greatest musicals of all time. It's the story of an ex-convict, Jean Valjean, and his journey for redemption. On that road, he encounters the unwavering love of a mother, the innocence of a child, the steely determination of a hunter and the passion of youthful freedom fighters.
Nominated for 12 Tony Awards, taking home eight including Best Score and Best Musical,Les Miserables is a true enthralling spectacle with brilliant imagery, magnificent orchestrations, stirring lyrics and a story of heroic human commitment that you will not soon forget. Whether you're new to Le Mis or have seen it before, you will want to see what Paramount's creative team brings to life in its grand production.
Originally released as a French-language concept album, the first musical-stage adaptation of Les Miserables was presented at a Paris sports arena, the Palais des Sports, in 1980. That production closed in just three months after the booking contract expired. It was not until five years later that the first English language version of Les Mis was produced. It opened on October 8, 1985 at the Barbican Arts Centre in London. Each performance of the London production required 392 complete costumes and 31 wigs.
In addition to the lowest major theater subscription prices anywhere in Illinois, exclusive benefits for Paramount Broadway subscribers have never been better. Only Broadway series subscribers are given first choice of the same seats for all four shows, free ticket exchange privileges, exclusive invitations to behind-the-scenes events, and first notice of added shows and special events, all delivered with a smile by Paramount's new Subscriber Services Concierge Department.
Broadway subscribers also receive first notice and exclusive pre-sale discounts from 5% to 15% off single tickets for all other performances presented at the Paramount in 2014-2015, including major concerts by nationally acclaimed music artists, comedy, dance, holiday shows, movies, and family presentations. Look for an announcement of the balance of the Paramount's 2014-2015 season later this spring.
About The Paramount Theatre
The Paramount Theatre is the center for performing arts, entertainment and arts education in Aurora, the second largest city in Illinois. Named "One of Chicago's Top 10 Attended Theatres" by the League of Chicago Theatres, the 1,888-seat Paramount Theatre, located in the heart of downtown Aurora at 23 E. Galena Blvd., is nationally renowned for the quality and caliber of its presentations, superb acoustics and historic beauty.
The Paramount Theatre opened on September 3, 1931. Designed by nationally renowned theater architects C.W. and George L. Rapp, the theater captures a unique Venetian setting portrayed in the art deco influence of the 1930s. The first air-conditioned building outside of Chicago, the Paramount offered the public a variety of entertainment, including "talking pictures," vaudeville, concerts and circus performances for more than 40 years.
In 1976, Aurora Civic Center Authority purchased the Paramount and closed the theater for restoration. The $1.5 million project restored the Paramount to its original grandeur. On April 29, 1978, the Paramount Arts Center opened, offering a variety of theatrical, musical, comedy, dance and family programming. In 2006, a 12,000-square-foot, two-story Grand Gallery lobby was added, with a new, state-of-the-art box office, café and art gallery.
Today, the Paramount produces its own, self-produced Broadway Musical series, presents an eclectic array of comedy, music, dance and family shows, and on most Mondays, screens a classic movie. For tickets and information, go to ParamountAurora.com or call(630) 896-6666.
The Paramount Theatre is one of three live performance venues programmed and managed by the Aurora Civic Center Authority (ACCA). ACCA also oversees the Paramount's "sister" stage, the intimate, 216-seat Copley Theatre located directly across the street from the Paramount at 8 E. Galena Blvd., as well as RiverEdge Park, downtown Aurora's new summer outdoor concert venue.
The Paramount Theatre continues to expand its artistic and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Tim Rater, President and CEO, Aurora Civic Center Authority; Jim Corti, Artistic Director, Paramount Theatre; a dedicated Board of Trustees and a devoted staff of live theater and music professionals.
Paramount's 2014-15 Broadway Series is sponsored (at press time) by The Dunham Fund, BMO Harris Bank and the City of Aurora. Paramount's current 2013-14 season is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
For more information, visit ParamountAurora.com.