The last 48 hours played out with a whirlwind intensity! Sunday evening, Paramount’s Newsies performed a final, colossal leap, a cosmic gran jete into a legacy never to be forgotten. Typically just taking an empty seat in the back row, I realized I wanted a ticket. With five minutes to curtain, I run to the box office:

“I want to sit close to them!”

“Jim, how’s F 101?”

“Yes!” (6th row seat on the aisle!)

“Thank you!”

Overture! Lights spinning, rock guitar chunka chunk churning, the curtain rises for the last time on two orphan boys asleep on a NYC rooftop. There’s a profundity of feeling enkindled here, renewed and deepened and pervades the entire rest of the show. Alex Prakken (Jack Kelly), Michael Kurowski (Crutchie), Justine Cameron (Katherine Plumber), and Katherine Lee Bourné (Medda Larkin) in full vocal force raise the roof on their solo turns to an ecstatic crowd. We watch the epitome of an Ensemble, our newsies, dance and sing the definition of, “like there’s no tomorrow”! Tears choke back on both sides of the footlights. These young athletes give it everything they’ve got, leaving it all up there on that stage like their lives depended on it. This is how artists create stakes! Full of passion, commitment and technical brilliance, the last hurrah!

These young athletes give it everything they’ve got, leaving it all up there on that stage like their lives depended on it.

Last night, folks, the emotional heights just kept right on climbing skyward. As if 16 Jeff Award nominations weren’t enough, Paramount brought home to Aurora two trophies for our production of The Producers! Choreographer Brenda Didier received the prize for her dazzling show-stopping dances and yours truly copped the nod for Direction. Blake Hammond, our Max Bialystock, and Jake Morrissy, our Leo Bloom performed from the show after flying in especially for the ceremony. (Blake is currently on tour nationally starring in Hello, Dolly! and Jake is starring on Broadway in The Book of Mormon. They both were Jeff nominated for their Max and Leo!). We had a wonderful showing of support last night from our board, company and staff members, our patrons and the Mayor of Aurora himself, Richard C. Irvin!

It was a great night! The Jeff Committee awarded diverse productions and artists, and we are grateful to be among those honored; a most inclusive celebration of what makes Chicago Theater the best in the country!

I could go on and on but I’ve got a class of theater students at Aurora University to visit with this morning and learn from them what their interests are. You bet I’ll be sharing with them the pride and gratitude I have for our theater, our community, and our City of Aurora!

Love and thanks,