Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back!

Tremendous day of meetings yesterday.  With Rachel Rockwell in the director’s chair, we sat around the table and discussed IN THE HEIGHTS.  Casting has progressed adding more thrills to the excitement of those already in place!  The set is a beauty, a replica of the original Broadway design by Tony nominee Anna Louizos.  We jumped at the opportunity to get this set; and I promise with all new direction, choreography, costumes and lighting of this production, you will think you are seeing it for the first time!  The newest member to the team is Music Director Tommy Vendafreddo who conducted and performed with that smokin’ ensemble playing SWEET CHARITY at Writers’.  While I’m at it, may I introduce to you Elizabeth Flauto: Costume Design, Jesse Klug: Lighting Design, Katie Spelman: Choreography, Jeff Dublinske: Sound Design, and the lovely Sarah Ross: Props Design.  Oh, they’re all lovely!  At Paramount’s Staff meeting this morning (every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.), I addressed my awe for everyone and could not contain my thanks for the opportunity to work with such an extraordinary team.  The Staff at Paramount is the backbone of the organization, and without them, I would not have the privilege to direct shows or even be an artistic director overseeing our first two seasons.  Without Developing, Marketing, Operations, Finance, Human Resources, Accounting, Group Sales, Rentals, Audience Services, Events Management, House Management, Company Management, Production Management, Technical Direction, Scene Shop and Costume Management, the Broadway Series just wouldn’t be happening.  And add to that the new RiverEdge Park Productions!  You see, Dear Reader, it takes many, many individuals’ efforts and talents and great teamwork to bring you great theatre.  I am grateful for my part to play and very proud to be opening Season 3 with IN THE HEIGHTS.

Now, just a brief insight on yesterday afternoon’s meeting for MISS SAIGON with its Set Designer Linda Buchanan as she revealed preliminary sketches for the pop opera.  I report here the bar continues to be raised artistically at this theatre with her stunning work.  To get the license to do the show from Music Theatre International, the owners asked that I submit how this production will distinguish itself from the original.  Here’s an excerpt of my response:

“What I hope would distinguish Paramount’s production would be an intensified emphasis on the non-fictional historical background of the story.  As it alludes to MADAME BUTTERFLY,  it is based on real lives and inspired by documentary AP photographs of The Viet Nam War and the images of Hugh Van Es and others.  This is simply an idea from where we might take off in a very physical production using a projection design that implements black and white documentary images integrated with the heat and color of the live performance.   I would like to think Paramount is about producing large scale shows in a way you haven’t seen them before still remaining ever true to the authors’ intentions.  Audiences love MISS SAIGON for it’s gorgeous score, heart and humanity.  We’d be privileged to present it during our third season!”

I shouted when I read their returned email: “APPROVED”!

And yes, we are working on the helicopter sequence!  Stay tuned, and I will relate more on this and other topics of interest on a later blog.

I can’t help temper my enthusiasm for being here without thinking of those devastated by the massive tornadoes that just tore through Oklahoma.  Our hearts break for those folks dealing with death and destruction unimaginable.  Let’s keep them in our thoughts.  And learn from their courage!

‘Til next time, my best & thanks,