Sunday evening, the company of Paramount’s Once did a run-through of the show, the first since our tech rehearsals began last Wednesday evening with Sound Designer Adam Rosenthal performing the greatest balancing act since anything you’ve seen in The Greatest Showman! I wish I had a count of all the different musical instruments hes mixing with the voices of 19 individual onstage singing-acting-musicians! The sound mix for a typical show is a feat in itself mixing onstage voices singing, dancing and acting with musicians seated below in the orchestra pit. For Once, Adam is balancing all of it onstage while it is moving! You see, in this production, the cast is the orchestra! Every individual is miked, as is every instrument, and they are continually in motion throughout the choreographed telling of our story. (We had a taste of this for the first time in this season’s opener Million Dollar Quartet, and that was for a cast of nine. Adam learned his lessons well as we all enjoyed the rockin’ sounds of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.)

Today we will work-through the show and continue to balance the instruments and voices together from what was learned Sunday night. Simultaneously, scene work and staging will continue to be developed. I’d like to let you in on how this collaboration has brought about some incredible realizations for me.

Lighting Designer Nick Belley, associate to the great Jesse Klug since we began seven years ago (and both of them won a Jeff for Sweeney Todd here), is now designing his first show solo at Paramount debuting in Once here with assistants Vicki Bain and Aaron Lorenz. Trent Stork, Associate Director with me for five years now, will make his directorial debut with next season’s opener Legally Blonde. Music Director/Conductor for Once, recent Jeff Award winner for Paramount’s Sweeney Todd, Tom Vendafreddo, joined us just as long ago for In The Heights and his associate Kory Danielson made his music directing debut with Million Dollar Quartet last fall. Jeff winner for our West Side StoryChoreographer William Carlos Angulo returns as well on Once creating movement for our company while they carry and play their instruments in this new musical staging. Once Costume Designer Theresa Ham, Jeff winner for The Little Mermaid here, has demonstrated show after show, season after season, that she can literally do it all…and brilliantly. I think of Adam Rosenthal figuring out the sound design here since our first season, seven years back. And how Jason Pikscher has been building our magnificent sets since we began with My Fair Lady. Rose Quealy began here as a Stage Manager and is now Paramount’s superb VP of Production. And Company Manager Kaylee Billman-Galuhn was once upon a time our Young Performer Supervisor.

What is happening is that there is this maturity, an excellence and caliber of work resulting from experience and caring, causing incredible growth and development and enthusiasm.


Dear reader, we’re all the beneficiaries of the progress these artists are gaining from their work here at Paramount and in theaters across Chicago. Paramount’s cast in Once, sublimely talented, amazes and dazzles in rehearsals every day, all day long.

Putting this all together, all these co-creators working together has made for a synergy in our collaboration that simply takes my breath away when I think about it.


And the man who hired each one of us, Tim Rater, President and CEO, forges ahead with the Paramount School of the Arts, new works development and numerous upgrades in our facilities, organization and programming.

Tonight, I will see all of them together as we will have our final dress rehearsal. Tomorrow, previews begin and press opening is Saturday night! And, my dear friends, it is never the same. It’s always getting better!

Love & thanks,


Once opens April 25. Don’t miss it!

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