Yesterday: dance call backs for West Side Story take off like a rocket launching the start of this week to Leonard Bernstein’s Scherzo sequence in the Somewhere Ballet. Choreographer William Carlos Angulo and assistant Courtney Cerny dance this lyrical movement with exquisite precision, power and musicality. To watch the aero-dynamics of their bodies flying through space and faces beaming, full of light, lifts the heart. This idealization of hope for harmony and peace forever after contrasts sharply with the raw threat of violence on the streets of this story. A young man being seen for “Bernardo” and two young ladies, one being seen for a “Shark Girl,” the other for a “Jet Girl,” make for a trio that depicts a stunning, soul-stirring dance, this fantasy, a moment of optimism, poetry and unity for the opposing members of the gangs. Just a sample of the athletic dynamics in Angulo’s work, Tim Rater leans forward to me and nods heartfelt appreciation and approval.

Next: after a brief conference, so full of promise, to discuss our approach to develop a new work here at Paramount, we are off to the first production meeting for our third show of the season, Hairspray. Around the table sits the production team presided over by Production Director Rose Marie Packer, Director Amber Mak and returning Scenic Designer Linda Buchanan, who has scored big with her designs here for our box office smash Annie, our four star Miss Saigon and last season’s triumphant The Who’s Tommy. Dear reader, the primary designs are jaw-dropping, off the charts, good! Together, Amber and Linda have devised a flexible, multi-dimensional physical environment with moving parts able to shift locales in the blink of an eye! Even motionless, it is an eye-popping work of art in itself! The beginnings here for layered, textured, collage-like sculptures and TV screens and media bring a much-wanted depth to a story often represented with a cartoon flatness. Sensational!

Now: running to this morning’s A Christmas Story production meeting where Director Nick Bowling and Scenic Designer Jeff Kmiec have devised a setting for this beloved tale that I guarantee will be the holiday blockbuster you do not want to miss! This set represents a realism that has never been seen before in Paramount’s Broadway Series that contrasts spectacularly with little Ralphie’s flights of fancy fantastical. Keeping this baby on budget has been the challenge of this show’s development for months. It is so striking that a modest, down home, indies cult film classic set in 1940s Indiana was adapted in 2009 into a full blown Broadway Musical Spectacular. You won’t be disappointed!

Love & thanks,