Four blockbuster musicals for 2014-15

In just three seasons, the Paramount Theatre’s Broadway musical series has impressed critics, audiences and skeptics alike. 

Paramount officials last week announced a new season of four blockbuster musicals in 2014-15: Cats (Sept. 10-Oct. 12); Mary Poppins (Nov. 26-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 musicals for the price of just one show downtown. 

Renewals and pre-sale for new subscriptions went on sale this week. 

Current subscribers  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, call (630) 896-6666 or visit the Paramount box office, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora.

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 Street just to name a few. 

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 and Tommy 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 and RENT. 

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. 

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 work with 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,” Corti said.

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.  

In addition, growing community support for the Paramount was underscored at a luncheon last week when The 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 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 annual Blues on the Fox Festival, June 27 and 28. Both Paramount and RiverEdge Park are managed by the Aurora Civic Center Authority (ACCA).    

“So much has happened so quickly,” said Tim Rater, president and CEO of the ACCA. “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.”

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. 

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. 

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. 

Nominated for 12 Tony Awards, taking home eight including Best Score and Best Musical, Les Miserables is an 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.

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. 


–News Bulletin news sources