Sunday morning, Tim Rater texted me: 

“Happy 5 year anniversary at Paramount TODAY! You started full time exactly 5 years ago today. Nice work, my dear friend.”

Tonight, the Sarah Siddons Society will present the Leading Player Award to yours truly. I guess it comes with all the attention we’ve gotten over the last five years. Can you remember the big splash My Fair Lady made and all the great productions and performances that followed that first season and then the next and the next and the next? The great reviews and enthusiastic crowds and right after the recent critical success of Oklahoma! opening Season FiveThe Jeff Awards! After three seasons of productions, Paramount became eligible and garnered 16 nominations and won five! Chicago theatre folk take pride in our work in Aurora and now tonight! 

The Sarah Siddons Society was founded over 60 years ago honoring Chicago theatre artists and funding a number of scholarships for university theatre and performance students in Chicago. Partnering with the Chicago Humanities Festival since 2013, the organization also creates opportunities for disadvantaged young students to attend live theatre in the Chicago area. It is these student scholarships and outreach programs, much like Paramount’s own Dreams Do Come True campaign, that is the most meaningful and important aspect of this award. It seems to me the Leading Player Award is about more than artistic excellence. For me, it is about all of us leading our communities to recognize where we can help make a difference in the lives and education of our students. Making them aware of the benefits of studying theatre and giving them the chance to work in and attend the creative arts is the mission of this fine organization. Arts Programs are crucial for our young students discovering the best of themselves, performing, creating and studying.

Receiving this award tonight brings attention to the educational programs and artistic development of the young artists who work hard to be recognized and need our support. Dominic Missimi is the Artistic Director of the Sarah Siddons Society, a Jeff Award winning director and teacher at Northwestern University and colleague for longer than I can remember. I am grateful, proud and happy to bring attention to the work Dominic is doing through the Leading Player Award tonight! 

Rehearsals for Paramount’s A Christmas Story ​are coming along with wonderful work from our ensemble full of the parents and kids in young Ralphie’s hometown “Holman, Indiana.” To see and hear these small town families raise their big-hearted voices together in song is already moving and magical! 

And we still have casting to do for Hairspray and West Side Story​. We’ve got to get it right. Replying to Tim’s text on Sunday, I said something like, “I love that I’m here. Thank you! Thank God! Just want to do the best that I can and keep going! It’ll never be done!”

Love & thanks,


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