Rising with the sun is a great way to start the day especially four stories up over the natural beauty of The Fox River. There is an imposing, abandoned-looking, temple-like structure at the top of the hill on the horizon. It reminds me of the ancient Pantheon in Rome. And then to the right, which looks like just a mile or so away, I swear, Mount Olympus! (I’ve got to get to our historical society downtown and get the story on these buildings!) Downtown Aurora is full of architectural beauty and speaks to the visionary ambition of those who built this town.
Our artistic home, The Paramount Theatre, is a prime example of how art and industry brought optimism and hope to these parts of Illinois during The Great Depression. The brother architects, Rapp & Rapp, were brought here to build this Art Deco movie palace and showplace in 1931, replete with a tremendous Wurlitzer organ! I walked into the Paramount yesterday afternoon and was gobsmacked all over again as I have been countless times now, at the grandeur that is this theater and the set that is MARY POPPINS. “Load-in” has just begun, but as early as it is in the installation, the scale of the beautifully intricate design is breathtaking. As one’s mind tries to fathom the logistics of how this is happening right here, the reality is: it was built by Technical Director Jason Pikscher and his crew, with their own bare hands, right up the road on Hill Street – “Made in Aurora,” just to quote my favorite CD of local musicians and singer-songwriters here in town.
There are some folks who are not aware that Paramount’s Broadway Series is homegrown. “Be sure to tell that touring troupe you brought in just how much we loved the show!” Well, my friends, for the most part, everyone we hire in the cast is local from Chicago, as are the design and production teams. Actors, directors, choreographers, designers, technicians, musicians, all of them, commute from Chicago or thereabouts to Downtown Aurora to rehearse, plan and present you with the finest live theatre experience of Broadway musical theatre you are likely to see anywhere. Yes, anywhere. Or so I’m told. Alright, false modesty aside, I’ve been around and can tell you, that’s a fact. And you can ask anyone who has been here since The Broadway Series began three years ago.
The big plus and most important key to the success of this theatre is that it is generously and enthusiastically supported by our audience. Every theatre has its audience, and Paramount has the best. Our audience took a chance on us and this “you have got to be crazy” idea and have stood by us from the very beginning. Like the Auroran forefathers who built this town, built this theater during the worst of times, they have built a new opportunity for patrons and artists alike to experience the cultural and social enrichment of live theatre. Look around at the audience we draw, and you notice the definition of “community,” the most inclusive and receptive and respectful crowd you could ever be a part of. Friendliness just seems to come with the territory. And it doesn’t cost “an arm and a leg” to be here. Click around our website and take a look. The Broadway Subscription Series is the most affordable theatre ticket I’ve ever seen, and it’s the best way to support our productions. Speaking of support, scroll to the top of this page and click “Donate” to read about how you can help us to continue to produce world class musical theatre and serve our community. I’d like to bring your attention to a very special campaign, if I may, the “Dreams Do Come True” program. Already over 3,000 underprivileged children, teens and those with special needs have walked through The Paramount’s lobby doors for free to see our Broadway Series productions. This means everything to me – giving them the chance to see a Broadway Series production with a full orchestra at no cost to them. You can fund this with any amount donation you choose. I’m also proud of our $10 Student Rush tickets, the day of the performance, for anyone with a current college ID. As a donor, you will support all of these programs as well as our ability to continue to bring you the very finest work we can produce. Most people don’t realize that Paramount is a non-profit organization. Your donations are tax deductible and are an important part of how we continue to succeed and serve! These programs give our citizens an experience they might never have had without you. Play a role in our service by giving what you can!
Love & thanks,