Several Miss Saigon casting calls going out today!  Auspicious…but anxious for the returns…is it possible they will all accept?  Juggling 13 Equity contracts among a cast of 30 actors (including The Uzarraga Brothers tag teaming the role of little Tam).   I have been gun shy on this one.  Careful attention must be paid.  As every show is built on its cast, I like to think it begins with the offerings and the interpretations in the auditions.  You build on what you keep and learn from what you lose.  Spectacular promise in this cast with the authenticity of youth and ethnicity.  Honoring people.  Honoring origins.  The Vietnamese.  The American GIs.  Vocal chops and dance skills.  The technical ability to maintain & sustain 8 performances a week for four weeks.  The talent gathering to form this company is thrilling, dear Reader!  Keep a good thought!

And now this weekend…the first round of RENT auditions!  Another story of young people’s struggles fast forward to the late 80’s.  The Bohemians, the artists off the mainstream, losing turf, losing life, fighting a war of their own.  They’re battling AIDS and poverty and the corporate establishment while reveling their gifts as artists, individuals passionate for life and love.  Will those at the audition have done some homework?  Some research?  Have any idea what it was like to be a fringe artist living in Alphabet City in Manhattan?  How raw, daring, and fun?  The cynicism and the aspirations!  Will they be physically and vocally fit?  Will I see those in practice or those who are coming in to give it a shot?  Will they know to draw upon the rebellions in their own lives and bring their personal truth?  And joy?

We are also in the throes of Miss Saigon production costs staying within budget.  The initial estimates came in today and we are tens of thousands over budget for the set not to mention lighting and sound.  This is where creativity trumps limitations and boundaries.  Paring down to essential elements, enhancing and unifying what we have with no fret over what we don’t have.  Letting go and letting in.  Making art.  Nice work if you can get it.  And I am grateful for it.

And let me express how proud I am for Paramount Arts and Aurora Civic Center Authority for the achievement that is RiverEdge Park opening last Friday!  For months I have watched our staff here led by a triumvirate Tim Rater, Jim Jarvis, and Val Devine work tirelessly to make this gorgeous outdoor entertainment venue a dream come true for so many here in Aurora!  Congratulations to everyone who has given their all to this massive project!  Come see a concert this summer, folks, at RiverEdge Park!

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen,