The week following our sensational Groundhog Day Press Opening Night Friday the 4th offered little respite for Team Paramount moving ahead firing on all cylinders into the 2nd half of the 10th Anniversary Season. Last Tuesday dawned on the first day of rehearsal for Sweat, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Play by Lynn Nottage helmed by Andrea J Dymond; it is the highly anticipated BOLD Series’ inaugural production in the North Island Center’s Copley Theatre. The auspiciousness was palpable as the cast gathered in the main rehearsal hall of the John C. Dunham Arts Center, protocols in place, to meet and greet in person and then virtually as well with the design and production teams, company management, and administrative support all there to serve them and their work. It was a bit of a high tech affair with the big screen of faces zooming in and cordless microphone passed around for an in-house broadcast bringing everyone together. Impressive as ever, Jeff Kmiec’s design puts Nottage’s dive bar setting right in the audience’s lap. Lighting Designer Jessica Neill will be carving focus into the works coming into her own from assisting and doing a super job on Groundhog Day. Yvonne L. Miranda expertly showcased a display of a working class wardrobe, at once unique and familiar, with an emphasis on character specificity for her debut at Paramount. Dramaturg Khalid Y. Long, PhD brings an incisive, scholarly, and impassioned packet of research to the proceedings infusing this slice of life among steel plant workers with history and authenticity and its resonance in the present.

Saturday afternoon I sat in on an hour and a half of rehearsal only five days into their first week. Gripped by the opening scene set in a parole office in 2008 (remember 2008?) then flashing back to the afterhours bar circa 2000, there is drawn a three dimensionality in Nottage’s people; these are people we know, so relatable to the conflicts Aurorans have experienced in factory closings, jobs relocating – and whoa, how the booze fuels the action! These actors were holding their scripts but they were so clearly off book not only not reading their lines but so believably inhabiting the lives in this story – each artist so perfectly matched for the part they play, I could not believe how quickly time was scorching by.

Next appointment next door, I was at The Paramount School of the Arts by early evening joining a panel of professionals – Azizi Marshall: Founder & CEO of the Center for Creative Arts Therapy, an arts-based psychotherapy practice and training center in Chicago, and Jamie Kruse: Owner & Psychotherapist @ Torus Psychotherapy and Multimodality Healing for Body, Mind, Spirit. The school programmed this discussion to create a community engagement forum entitled: Avoiding Your own Groundhog Day. The rut we can find ourselves in living the routine of our lives can affect our wellness and boy! – what a lively conversation we had with those who attended! Look to the arts and to nature and to within yourself for the change and transformation you seek: that’s a whole ‘nother blog, friends!

After this session I was supercharged for the night ahead to see our production of Groundhog Day around the corner which I hadn’t seen since the stunning success of the press opening a week ago. So taken by how quickly the work has matured, the nuance of each character’s telling of the story, how remarkably their voices rise up while the orchestra soars, and the beauty to how it all moves – yesterday I wrote a valentine to this cast! All weekend I couldn’t stop thinking of them and everyone’s work, the sights and sounds, the laughs and emotions….and how against all odds we made a show the crowd around me attended rapt and thralled, on their feet cheering as the curtain came down. Alone, it was a very full and private kind of moment – revealing change personally in myself from working with everyone and the transformation for those attending. We all are a little different now than when we walked in.

Love & thanks,