Forget casinos. If you want to know what the truly transformative economic engine now at work in Aurora happens to be it is this: The Broadway Series staged in that grand, 1,888-seat Art Deco gem, the Paramount Theatre. In just five years the Series has attracted more than 30,000 subscribers and provided jobs for scores of actors, dancers, directors, musicians, designers and related theater artists and administrators from Chicago, the western suburbs and beyond. It has brought business to local restaurants and parking services. And it has established Aurora as a “regional musical theater destination” that can easily compete with Broadway, at a fraction of the ticket price.Now completing their fifth season with a galvanic production of “West Side Story,” Paramount producer Tim Rater, and artistic director Jim Corti, have announced the theater’s sixth season. And Corti’s description of the four shows in the lineup is right on target. As he explained it: “It would be hard to imagine a more disparate, contrasting season – ranging from the happiest of lighthearted family fare, to the ultimate in passion and drama, and from 1970s pop rock to a sublimely orchestrated show.”
The shows (which will have extended runs – up from 22 weeks and 180 performances to 27 weeks and 220 performances) include:
+ “Mamma Mia!” (Sept. 7-Oct. 30, 2016), with the songs of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (of ABBA fame), book by Catherine Johnson and direction by Jim Corti, who again teams up with his “West Side Story” choreographer, William Carlos Angul and music director/conductor Tom Vendafreddo (who will work on all four shows). The musical tells the story of Sophie, a 20-year-old bride-to-be preparing for her wedding on a Greek island, and her attempt to figure out which of three men mentioned in her mother’s diary might be her father. Woven into the show are such ABBA hits as “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance,” “SOS,” and “Knowing Me, Knowing You.”+ “The Little Mermaid” (Nov. 23, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017), with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman & Glenn Slater and book by Doug Wright (based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and the Disney film). Amber Mak (“Hairspray”) will direct and choreograph this story of Ariel, the mermaid who lives 20,000 leagues under the sea with her royal family and father, King Triton, but dreams of the world above.
+ “Sweeney Todd-The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (Feb. 8-Mar. 19, 2017), with a score by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. This tale of the English barber hellbent on revenge, and his companion in crime, Mrs. Lovett, maker of the worst meat pies in London, will be directed and choreographed by Jim Corti.+ “Jesus Christ Superstar” (Apr. 19-May 28, 2017), with a score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, to be directed and choreographed by Ron Kellum. Of course by now you know the story, as well as the rock opera score for this one, although it will arrive with a difference as plans are underway for it to feature an all- African American cast.While these musicals are widely familiar, it is worth noting that Paramount recently launched a New Works department that is sure to develop and uncover the next new thing in musical theater in future seasons.
Just as it has from the start, Paramount will feature the same “Buy Two Shows, Get Two Shows Free” subscription offer, with four-play packages starting at $88. Renewals for Paramount’s 2016-17 Broadway Series go on sale today (March 28) at 10 a.m.
During the renewal process, friends and family members of subscribers, as well as the general public, can participate in the Broadway Series Reservation that enables new subscribers to pre-pay for their four-play series before they go on sale to the general public. Reservations can be made online only until April 4 at ParamountAurora.com. After April 4, New Subscriber reservations can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person at the Paramount box office through May 8.The Paramount box office will contact new subscribers for their seating preferences before May 8. Beginning in mid-June, after the renewal period is over for current subscribers, new subscribers will be contacted in the order their subscription request was made to confirm their series and actual seats.For more information call (630) 896-6666 or visit ParamountAurora.com.