The AEA audition room is a sauna. Red-faced and sweaty, the young men filling the small room, athletically bouncing off the walls; nothing dampening their enthusiasm! The Little Mermaid Director/Choreographer, Amber Mak beaming, smiling, shouting encouragement, “Yes! Yes!” This entire group of men in unison shout the percussive accents in the dance to “Under the Sea” – “Hut! Ho! Hey! Hup!” They applaud and whoop it up for each other as they dance in smaller groups. “Any tumbling? Tap?” Those that can knock out a time step. The pulse quickens for the energy fills the room with the excitement of the shared emotional support, generous souls! Spirits leap with every jump! So many new faces, ladies and gentlemen! Capacity turn-out yesterday as well, as both union and non-union talent bring their A-game giving this season a very competitive field!

Last night’s Mamma Mia! production meeting over dinner at The City Winery (delicious!), Costume Designer Matt Guthier presented his researched proposals for what will be our own distinctive look for Paramount’s production. Linens, lace, sheers, cottons, light, gauzy Greek island fabrics, the beaches and jetties have never looked so vibrant, care free, elegantly easy and breezy. And then the pop rock 70’s fashion plates that can only be defined by ABBA! The sentimental journey revisiting the nostalgia of my youth! The crazy 70s! My 20s! All of it comes on like a rush of memories, laughing at myself, the clothes I wore, the hair! Hair and Make-up Designer Katie Cordts, displays photos of blonde and brunette blushing beauties, windblown, long loose tresses and tan, bronzed, sun-kissed faces and beach bodies!

Here we sit in downtown Chicago holding auditions for a new season, while back in downtown Aurora West Side Story plays to standing ovations and will end Season Five on April 24. Open as the search for our four shows’ casts are right now for Season Six, let’s take stock in the remarkable cast we have onstage at the Paramount throughout these coming weeks. The performances are generating raves across the board phenomenal. Do not miss them. There is a poignancy to the work. An important message as we “hold the mirror up to nature” as the Bard urges us. And they imbue the continuing tradition you’ve come to expect in the artistic excellence of our actors performing every show with extraordinary consistency and commitment.

I’m enjoying the solitude in the room during lunch. But folks, there is a rising din just outside the door. The happy sound of young ladies awaiting the afternoon dance call! The friendly, nervous, hopeful and high-spirited chit-chat! God, I love it!

Love & thanks,


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