This morning’s light filtering through the white sky over Aurora creates a calm beauty on the banks of The Fox. But I can’t seem to be calm right now. We began principal music rehearsals yesterday for TOMMY! David Schlumpf and Hillary Marren are playing Captain and Mrs. Walker, and to see them together for the first time since their audition makes my heart race and my voice cry! What is this emotion all about?! It must be how much I’ve been thinking of them in this play as Tommy’s parents; I know the passion and violence ahead…how these two young actors will experience for us (how our audience will experience through them), the pain of despair and loss and eventual recovery and redemption…and knowing how The Walkers never stop loving Tommy and each other.

We have a tough play ahead. It’s a rock ‘n roll world of contrived twists and turns of hallucinatory proportions. And yet somehow all the more human for it. At least that is the challenge before us. I’m nervous, excited, carrying around every part knowing it’s going to take everything we’ve got to give to it to be real and alive. The heartbreak they will play. How every attempt to cure Tommy is countered by abusive episodes and how those are countered by the glories of this music, the pure fun and joy of performance, the quirks of the characters in this rock ‘n roll universe! Healing is a big theme here. How Tommy has the path to healing within himself. How we all do.

After this first rehearsal attending a beaming Tom Vendafreddo musically directing these beautiful actors so expertly, I know we have got this much right! Oh, I know we’ve got it all right! It’s just that there is a long way to go before we deliver this baby! It is much like a metaphorical pregnancy. Carrying all this around inside! But I’m not alone. Assistant Trent Stork is a most comprehensive and organized support. As are Production Manager Beth Spencer and Technical Director Jason Pikscher in producing Linda Buchanan’s spectacular set with Greg Hofmann’s lights and Adam Rosenthal’s sound and Theresa Ham’s costumes and Mike Tutaj’s projections and Sarah Ross’s props and Brock Clawson’s choreography and Penny Lane Studios’ wig designs and Claudia Anderson’s dialect coaching and R & D Choregraphy’s violence design! Ya name one, ya gotta name ’em all: they are irreplaceable, skillful and dedicated. See, and with Stage Manager Rose Packer and Assistant Stage Manager Jinni Pike, I’m not alone by a long shot. “Calm down, Corti!”

Emails, messages, texts and comments full of praise for MARY POPPINS are pouring in and instill so much pride and gratitude for the success our Paramount team has made of this production, our biggest yet! I am ever thankful for our audience response! Your writing about your time here is everything to me and all of us at Paramount. We are blessed to have your enthusiasm and support and look forward to continuing to share these holidays with you at MARY POPPINS until Jan. 4th!

Love & thanks,