With the place filled with sunlight and the aroma of fresh coffee brewing, I’m excited for everything happening here at Paramount! Rehearsals began yesterday for our holiday spectacular, Beauty and the Beast! Right now this superb cast is out of the starting blocks just as the tremendous run of Newsies this week approaches the finish line! (Must be the caffeine, my high school track team days just popped into my head. I ran the hurdles, lows and highs). I attended Newsies with friends on Sunday evening. I see at least a show a week during the run and I’m so proud I could bust!

The work in Newsies has a particular distinction for me. Among the reasons for that; our young leading man, Alex Prakken as Jack Kelly, with his fresh interpretation and commanding vocal chops singing the role. His lead, full of drive and heart, inspires and has befriended this cast; relationships that could very well last a lifetime. It’s a wonderful thing to watch. Their playfulness and camaraderie is something very present and alive in this production. Michael Kurowski carries his moments as Crutchie artfully, warm and sincere. As does Koray Tarhan’s Davey, passionately voiced and heroic. He’s the ideal big brother to little Les, double cast with Daniel Font-Wilets and Nathaniel Buescher. Daniel and Nate absolutely blow my mind with how they have grown and command the stage. And it’s due to working with this special group that is our ensemble, receiving the little guys as equals, bright, talented, caring scene partners, role models these boys can aspire to be. (I’ve said it before, watching these young athletes dance is like watching the Olympics!) The most gratifying thing is to ascertain the foundation of experience here that will be passed on to others in their future work. And there is Bret Tuomi’s Joseph Pulitzer, whose scenes crackle with precision and bluster. Katherine Lee Bourné is on as Medda Larkin and is bringing down the house! Kat is killing it! And has there ever been a Katherine Plumber more spirited than Justine Cameron’s? In this, her first show, her professional debut, this young lady has won my heart and admiration. I have watched her grow and take charge and am so grateful for the opportunity this show has given her. “Watch What Happens” as sung here by Ms. Cameron dazzles!

Mayor Irvin’s motto for Aurora, “There’s something happening here!” comes to mind. Our actors, designers and production teams are forging ahead with experiences to be shared and passed on to others. What’s happening here at Paramount is a creative, collaborative environment of artists, technicians, audience services and a school! We design with you in mind; serving our audience and our community. The clouds have taken over the skies this morning as I write this. But that last sip of coffee and reflecting on the goodness and high hopes ahead has me up and outta here!

Love & thanks,