Brighter Futures


Written by Satya Chávez, Jess Godwin and Gabriel Ruiz 

Brighter Futures Program (PDF)


For young people, theatre can offer powerful perspective at a formative time of their lives.

Nothing can compare to the power of watching live theatrical magic breathe life into a story, taking it from the page to the stage, and for many students in our local community, access to regular arts programming can be limited.

In hopes of creating a model that would help remove barriers to access to theatrical programming for local schools, Paramount Theatre sought to explore creating a brand-new musical for mobile programming that could travel to schools at little or no cost to the school itself. Another priority was to support an original work that addressed challenges that students in our community currently face – topics like navigating family dynamics, coping with bullying, embracing diversity, and facing the pressures and realities of growing up in an increasingly complex world.

In the Fall of 2022, Paramount commissioned creative team Satya Chávez, Jess Godwin and Gabriel Ruiz to create a 60-minute musical that addressed some of these challenges. The goal was to develop a show that could easily travel and adapt to a variety of performance spaces in local schools. Through support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation, Waubonsee Community College, and individual donors, the team’s original script and score, Brighter Futures, was developed through readings and workshops in 2023 and is now hitting the roads and heading out to its first school performances! And the best part is that the show will be offered as free programming for each of the schools we travel to in the spring of 2024!

Paramount Theatre believes that every child should have the opportunity to experience the transformative power of live theatre, regardless of their background or financial circumstances. We hope that Brighter Futures will not only educate and entertain our young audiences, but that it will also provide inspiration and encouragement for students to explore their own modes of artistic expression. By supporting and nourishing these students today, we are investing in the future growth, depth, and cultural consciousness of our future communities.


When Amber Mak approached writing team Jess Godwin and Gabriel Ruiz to create a piece that specifically centered a Mexican- American female protagonist to speak to the middle schools in the Aurora area, they speed-dialed Satya! Bringing her perspective and heart has been the grounding cord for a process created to speak to Aurora students.

When we were tossing around wacky ideas for this show, early conversations about AI were starting to pop up more regularly in the news. “How are schools going to handle this technology that is arriving faster than our ability to vet it?”. Gabriel, who has seen every sci-fi movie on Netflix, was off to the races. A story about fact and fiction became a story about honesty and trust, and the more we learned about this trio of friends, the more it sounded like all of us navigating an age of disinformation.

Thank you to educators for teaching our kids the truth, because in writing this play, we have learned that what you do is more important than ever.


LAURA QUIÑONES she/ella (Xoe) was in the original reading for Brighter Futures and is so excited to bring this music and show to life! She is a proud Colombian/Puerto Rican Chicago native, a board member of youth arts education non-profit Downstage Arts, and is proudly represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.

ISIS ELIZABETH she/her (Michelle, Step Choreography) is excited to be working with Paramount Theatre. Selected theater credits: Alice’s Daughter in Big River (Mercury Theater Chicago), Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors (Citadel Theatre), and most recently, Papa Ge in Once on This Island (Pulse Theatre Chicago). Selected Film credits: Chicago Fire, Family Values.

MAXEL MCLOUD SCHINGEN he/they (Kevin, Dance Captain) is thrilled to be making his Paramount debut! Chicago credits: Cinderella, Grease, and Shrek the Musical (Drury Lane); and Beauty and the Beast (Chicago Shakespeare). Maxel graduated with their B.F.A. in Musical Theatre at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University in 2022.

NOLAN ROBINSON II he/him (Brett, Ensemble, Step Choreography) is a multi-hyphenate artist and graduate of Northwestern University. He received a Non-Equity Jeff Award Nomination for his role as Reuben in Refracted Theatre Co.’s St. Sebastian. Recent acting credits include Cinderella at Drury Lane Theatre (Ensemble), and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Marriott Theatre.

RACHEL CARRERAS she/her (Navarro, Ensemble) is thrilled to be making her Paramount debut! Most recently seen in The Music Man (Mrs.Squires) at Metropolis PAC. Regional Credits: Into the Woods (The Witch), Something Rotten (Bea Bottom), and Spring Awakening (Wendla). She thanks her family and friends for their unending love & support!

EMILY MARSO she/her (Daskalos Animation Capture) Paramount debut. Theatre credits include Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Goodman, Northlight, Writers, TimeLine, and more. TV credits include recurring on Chicago Med and Chicago Fire (NBC). Film credits include An Exquisite Meal (Cinequest, streaming). Motion capture credits include Call of Duty (Raven Software) and Mortal Kombat (NetherRealm Studios). @missmarso

JORYHEBEL GINORIO she/her (Swing, Ensemble) is beyond excited to be making Paramount Theatre debut! Other credits include The Snow Queen at Marriott Theatre! Joryhebel feels blessed to be doing what she loves most while being supported by God, her family, friends, boyfriend, and of course her sweetest pup Matcha. ¡Wepa! @joryhebelginorio

DARIAN GOULDING he/him (Swing, Ensemble) is ecstatic to join Brighter Futures. Darian is a graduate of Belmont University with a BFA in Musical Theater. Seen last at Paramount in Little Shop of Horrors and Into the Woods; and Broadway in Chicago’s Children of Eden! Many thanks to his family, friends, cast and crew of BF.

AMBER MAK she/her (Director & Co-Choreographer) A Chicago based director/choreographer, Amber has a passion for new works and collaborating on shows that reach the next generation of theater goers. Some of her favorite credits include The Sound of Music, Rock of Ages, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Hairspray, and Elf at the Paramount Theatre. Other credits include Cinderella (Drury Lane Theatre), Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), and Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story (Marriott Theatre) as well as many other regional productions and assistant to director on Big Fish on Broadway. She is a proud Northwestern University graduate. Favorite productions to date are her two kids who she hopes she inspires half as much as they inspire her.

NICH O’NEIL they/them/he (Assistant Director & Co-Choreographer) Over the past year Nich has been making the switch from on stage to behind the table as a creative and is happy to be on board for Brighter Futures as the Assistant Director/Co-Choreographer. Nich has previously worked on Drury Lane’s production of Cinderella (associate choreographer) and Chicago Shakespeare’s production of Beauty and the Beast (associate director/choreographer).  As a Chicago performer Nich has been a part of Drury Lane’s productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Gad), Mamma Mia (US Eddie/ensemble), and The King & I (US Simone Legree/ballet guard).  You may have also seen Nich out at the Paramount Theater in The Wizard of Oz (Nikko/ensemble), Newsies (Albert), and Beauty and the Beast (ensemble).  Nich would like to send their love to their family and friends for the constant, unwavering support throughout their career. IG: @findyoniche

ELLIE KAHN she/her (Music Director) is a music director, vocalist, keyboardist, and coach in Chicago. She is a member of the music team for Six (national and international) and Too Much Molly Band. Previous: Run Bambi Run (Milwaukee Rep, Assoc. MD); Vi Petty/Keys 1 in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Marriott Theatre); Fun Home (Paramount Theatre, Assoc Cond). Ellie writes music alongside her collaborator, Denise Manning (3 musicals strong). @elliekahn_ #BlackLivesMatter #FreePalestine

RUEBEN D. ECHOLES he/him (Costume Designer) is an accomplished playwright, director, choreographer, illustrator, costume and wig designer. He has had the pleasure of working with many theater companies across the country and in the Chicagoland area such as ETA, Black Ensemble, Mmpact, Congo Square, Refuge, Porchlight Music Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Skylight Milwaukee, Writers Theatre, Theo Ubique, Invictus, The Goodman Theatre, Phoenix Theatre Company and Studio One Dance Theatre, just to name a few. His most recent projects include Wig Design for Dreamgirls at Paramount Aurora and North Carolina Theatre Company as well as Costume Design for You Can’t Fake the Funk which was featured at The National Black Theatre Festival and earned Rueben a Joseph Jefferson award for “Best Costume Design in a Large Theater.” Rueben has also designed costumes for 4 Episodes for WTTW’s Chicago Stories docu- series, two of which (“Ida B. Wells” and “The History of Gospel”) have won Emmys for best production. Rueben would like to thank Christ his Savior for everything!

DANIEL ETTI-WILLIAMS they/he (Sound Designer) is an up-and-coming Sound Designer and Engineer from Dallas, Texas, living in Chicago. After studying acting at Oklahoma City University, they moved to Chicago to participate in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Sound Apprenticeship Program. Since then, they have had the opportunity to work all over Chicago making theatre and telling stories and expressing their passion through design.

EME OSPINA-LÓPEZ they/them (Projections Designer) is an artivist and video storyteller, born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Eme has been in the collaborative making of live performance since 2015 and in 2023, they received their MFA in Media Design and Technology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Now Chicago-based, they have worked with Chicago Latino Theatre Alliance, PrideArts, Collaboration, Refracted Theatre Company, Pegasus Theatre Chicago. They are thrilled to create with Paramount Theatre for the first time!

IVY TRECCANI she/her (Properties Designer) is a 2020 graduate from Northern Illinois University with her MFA in Scenic and Props Design. She is also the Scenic Paint Charge for Paramount’s Bold Series. Every summer, Ivy also has the privilege of being Great River Shakespeare Festival’s Props Designer since 2018. She is happy to be a part of this unique production.

LINA BENICH she/her (Tour Manager) is excited to be back with Paramount, where she recently stage managed What the Constitution Means to Me! Previous credits include Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Drury Lane Theatre, American Players Theatre, First Folio Theatre, Kokandy Productions, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and five seasons managing the tour of A Crew of Patches, bringing Shakespeare to Chicagoland area students. Lina is a proud AEA member and graduate of Emerson College. Much love to Mom & Dad.

REBECCA J. LISTER she/her (Stage Manager) is thrilled to return for her third show with Paramount! Previous credits include Assistant Stage Manager for What the Constitution Means to Me and Next to Normal, Stage Manager for Southern Gothic (Windy City Playhouse), Stage Manager for Home and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre), and Assistant Stage Manager for Shrek: The Musical (Drury Lane Theatre). She holds a BFA in Acting and Theatre Design & Technology from Oakland University.

CHRISTOPHER LINDQUIST he/him (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to take this journey with Paramount! He has previously worked on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Spotlight Operator) at Paramount, and has worked productions at Barrington Stage Company, Drury Lane Theatre, and Buffalo Theatre Ensemble. Christopher is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

SATYA CHÁVEZ Satya Chávez (Music & Lyrics) is an Indigenous Mexican-American, queer, multidisciplinary artist and theater maker. Their compositional work includes: Refuge, a border play co-created with Andrew Rosendorf, which received an NNPN Rolling World Premiere, Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, a Venturous Theater Fund Grant, and a MAP Fund Grant, produced at Curious Theatre (True West Award), Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre (Non-Equity Wing Jeff Awards: Best Original Music in a Play, Best Ensemble, and Artistic Specialization), Unicorn Theatre, and Theatre Lab FAU; Seattle History Remix, a live looping musical co-created with Idris Goodwin (Seattle Children’s Theatre); the Drama League Nominated, Where Did We Sit on the Bus?, by Brian Quijada (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Playhouse, and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center); ¡Bernarda! (Teatro Vista); Late, A Cowboy Song (Wirtz Center); Hamlet and Ophelia (The Artistic Home); Empanada (The Public SA); Life on Paper (Jackalope Theatre Company); and Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night (Colorado Shakespeare Festival). Commissioning institutions include Paramount Theatre, TheatreSquared, Seattle Children’s Theater, Curious Theatre, and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Chávez is also the inaugural recipient of the Jeff Impact Fellowship.

JESS GODWIN (J) (Writer and Voice of Daskalos) is a songwriter, actor, audiovisual artist and clairvoyant based in New York. She has created hundreds of videos and songs in a series of installations over the past decade.  Her music has been licensed on several international TV shows, her voice has been featured in multiple national commercial jingles, and her music videos have been viewed by millions. A proud 3Arts $25,000 2016 grant winner, she attended Space on Ryder farm two non-consecutive weeks in 2023 to work on Quiet Life, Audible’s first musical theater commission. In late 2023, she released dreamer, a self-produced short musical film about dreams, family, and legacy. Since its release, dreamer has been accepted to 28 festivals and received 18 awards and counting. This year, Jess continues the development of Muze, a patent-pending musical body instrument, while she adapts her award-winning film for the stage.

GABRIEL RUIZ (Book) is the writer of The Fifth World fiction podcast and The Detective Q Chronicles (Teatro Vista), as well as the composer for Vietgone (Writers Theater), In the Time of Butterflies (Teatro Vista) and An Epic Tale of Scale (Chicago Children’s Theater). 1/2 of the creative explosion Sound + Fury, 1/2 of the songwriting duo With This Song (Spotify). Currently originating a role on Broadway in MJ: The Musical, while developing Audible Theater’s first commissioned musical and The Fifth World Season 2.

TIM RATER (President & CEO) has been with Paramount Theatre since 2010. He’s excited to bring this production to your school and is grateful to all the people who made it possible. He hopes it makes you think, it inspires you and that you enjoy the magic of telling a story through theater.

JIM CORTI he/him (Artistic Director) is a Joseph Jefferson Award winning actor, director, and choreographer. He inaugurated Paramount’s Broadway Series with President and CEO Tim Rater in the fall of 2011, and by 2023, Paramount became the largest subscription-based theatre in the country. The Broadway Series became Jeff Award eligible in 2015, and in three years garnered 71 nominations with 20 wins, including 3 consecutive Best Musical awards for Les Misérables, West Side Story, and Sweeney Todd, each directed by Corti. For Paramount’s inaugural BOLD Series season, he codirected Fun Home with Landree Fleming and codirected last season’s Into the Woods here with Trent Stork. Corti recently directed Next to Normal, opening the second season of BOLD with Associate Director, Creg Sclavi. Upcoming: Streetcar Named Desire directing with Elizabeth Swanson and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical codirecting with Johanna McKenzie Miller for the Broadway seasons’ grand finale!

KARA DAVIDSON she/her (Director of New Works and Associate Artistic Producer) is a theatre practitioner with over 15 years of experience in various disciplines of the field including playwriting, directing, acting, arts administration, teaching, and theatre management. She joined the Paramount team in 2023. Previously, she was the director of The Lab Chicago and producer of the NOW (New Omaha Works) Lab at the Omaha Playhouse, A former company member of The House Theatre of Chicago, she holds an MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a BA in Theatre Performance from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She has worked with Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The House Theatre of Chicago, Manual Cinema, The Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Nebraska Repertory Theatre, among others. Kara is also a teaching facilitator with A.B.L.E. Ensemble, a company that creates theatre and film projects for, with, and by individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Thank you to our sponsors!

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Meet the Cast

Meet the Cast

Laura Quiñones


Isis Elizabeth


Maxel McLoud Schingen


Nolan Robinson

Brett, Ensemble

Rachel Carreras

Navarro, Ensemble

Joryhebel Ginorio

Swings, Ensemble

Darian Goulding

Swings, Ensemble

Emily Marso

Daskalos Animation Capture

Jess Godwin

Voice of Daskalos

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About Brighter Futures

At the start of the school year, three friends navigate the challenges of teenage life in the age of social media, homework, sports, and relationships. Enter Daskalos – an Artificial Intelligence App that promises to do their school work, boost their grades and improve their lives. What’s the worst that could happen?

As they struggle to balance their passions with the demands of their daily lives, tensions begin to rise, and trust is tested and they must confront the fallout of their actions and decide whether forgiveness is possible. Through the power of song and a timely story, this musical play explores the joys and sorrows of friendship, the perils of social media, and the importance of honesty and forgiveness in a world where trust can be easily broken.

Brighter Futures and all musical tracks were written and recorded by Satya Chávez, Jess Godwin, and Gabriel Ruiz.

LISTEN TO a sample of the music





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Theatre for Young Audiences Interest Form

Why wait? Sign up for a performance of Brighter Futures to visit your school today and give your students an unforgettable experience that will spark their imagination and inspire them to think creatively. We can’t wait to bring our show to your school and share the magic of live theatre with your students!

By signing up for our program, you’ll have access to a range of resources that will help you prepare your students for the performance. We will offer comprehensive study guides and pre-show conversation starters that will enhance your students’ understanding of the play and deepen their engagement with the themes and ideas presented.

In addition, we offer flexible scheduling options to fit your busy school schedule. We know that every school is unique, and we’re committed to working with you to create a memorable experience that meets your specific needs and requirements.

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