AURORA – Chicago audiences will be the first to see the world premiere of August Rush: The Musical a never-before-seen musical based on the original Oscar-nominated Warner Bros film about a musically gifted orphan and the search for his birth parents.
For the first time since launching its own Broadway Series in 2011, Aurora’s Paramount Theatre is presenting a world premiere musical. John Doyle, the internationally acclaimed director who earned a Tony Award for Sweeney Todd and also staged the Broadway revival of The Color Purple starring Jennifer Hudson, helms Paramount’s production, running April 24-June 2, 2019. Press opening is Friday, May 3 at 8 p.m.
Today, Paramount Theatre announced the principal cast members, leading with two exciting young actors – Jack McCarthy and Huxley Westemeier – who will double in the title role of August Rush. McCarthy made his Broadway debut at age 8 as Michael in Finding Neverland. His other recent credits include Shadowlands Off-Broadway, the films Viper Club, Family Fang and The Path on TV. Westemeier played Billy and understudied Lawrence in the National Broadway Tour School of Rock the Musical. Other credits include Watch On the Rhine at The Guthrie Theater, Jesus Christ Superstar at The Ordway, and as Manny in the world premiere of Diary of A Wimpy Kid the Musical directed by Rachel Rockwell at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.
Broadway musical theater star George Abud will play August Rush’s long lost father, Lewis Chapman. Abud’s Broadway credits include The Band’s Visit starring Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub and The Visit starring Chita Rivera and Roger Rees. Off Broadway he played in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui opposite Raúl Esparza, Nathan The Wise opposite F. Murray Abraham, Peer Gynt opposite Gabriel Ebert, Allegro directed by John Doyle for Classic Stage Company and The Band’s Visit at Atlantic Theater Company.
Broadway veteran John Hickok will play dual roles, Wizard and Thomas Novacek. Hickok originated the roles of Governor Slaton in Parade, Professor Bhaer in Little Women, Zoser in Aida on Broadway and is featured on all three cast albums. Other key credits include Man and Boy with Frank Langella at Roundabout and Our Country’s Good. Regionally he played Beauregard opposite Michelle Lee in Mame, and John Adams in Frank Galati’s 1776.
Leenya Rideout, who plays Hope, performed on Broadway in War Horse, Cyrano de Bergerac, Company and Cabaret. Her Off-Broadway credits include Wild Abandon, Before We’re Gone, As You Like It and Taming of the Shrew.
Sydney Shepherd will play August’s birth mother, Lyla Novacek. Shepherd’s Broadway credits include First Date as standby for Casey/Lauren/Allison. She was the cellist in Folk Wandering Off-Broadway and performed regionally in Jasper In Deadland as Gretchen at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.
Just like Paramount’s recent hits Million Dollar Quartet and Once, the cast members in August Rush: The Musical are both the actors and the orchestra and play all instruments live on stage, creating the beautiful symphony of this story. The multi-talented ensemble is Marta Bagratuni, Alex Bender, Matt Deitchman, Ginna Doyle, Brad Giovanine, Lizzie Hagstedt, Jessie Linden, Troy Valjean Rucker, Doug Smith and Katrina Yaukey. Paramount audiences will recall Deitchman for his memorable turn as the faux barber Adolfo Pirelli in Paramount’s 2017 Jeff Award winning Best Musical-Large, Sweeney Todd–The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Already announced is Doyle’s August Rush creative team including Emmy Award-winning book writer and lyricist Glen Berger, who also co-wrote the book for Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, and celebrated composer and lyricist Mark Mancina, who also composed the platinum selling soundtrack for the film August Rush, many songs for The Lion King and the score for Pixar’s hit film Moana. Choreographer is JoAnn M. Hunter whose Broadway credits include School of Rock (US National Tour, West End, Australia), Disaster, On A Clear Day… and Broadway Bound. Orchestrations and arrangements are by Dave Metzger, who orchestrated the films August Rush, Training Day and Tarzan and earned a Tony nomination for Disney’s The Lion King.
“I’m excited about the development of this new and unique musical,” said director John Doyle. “August Rush centers on the emotional and musical journey of a young boy – a lost boy. Through music he reunites with the parents he otherwise may never have found. The ‘hope’ that the story highlights is powerful. That, more than anything, is what attracted me to the material, and I’m honored to be a part of its journey.”
“When our Broadway Series began in 2011, we had big dreams for what it could become. Over the years, those dreams have been brought to life again and again. And now, one of our biggest dreams is finally becoming a reality,” said Jim Corti, Artistic Director, Paramount Theatre. “August Rush: The Musical, the first major project from our New Works Development Program guided by my colleague Amber Mak, represents the next step in Paramount’s evolution into one of the nation’s preeminent regional theaters. What does this mean to our more than 41,000 subscribers? It means they will be the first ever to see this production come to life.”
Previews of August Rush: The Musical, Paramount Theatre’s 2018-19 Broadway series finale, start April 24. Press opening is Friday, May 3 at 8 p.m. Performances run through June 2: Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Thursday at 7 p.m.; Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Single tickets are $36 to $69. For tickets, visit ParamountAurora.com, call (630) 896-6666, or stop by the Paramount box office Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. August Rush is suggested for ages 9 and older due to some adult themes and language.
“The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen” – Behind the scenes of August Rush
August Rush: The Musical is the story of Evan Taylor, an 11-year-old orphan who believes in music like some believe in fairytales. In a cruel twist of fate, Evan’s mother, an accomplished classical cellist, and his father, the lead singer of a rock band, don’t even know of his existence. From one foster home to the next, Evan refuses to give up hope in finding his parents. On this relentless search, he surrenders himself to the symphony of sounds in the city and follows the music, discovering his own genius along the way. In this inspiring love story, music is everywhere, but will it lead Evan home?
The major motion picture August Rush, a 2007 Warner Bros. release, featured Freddie Highmore as August Rush, with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Lewis, Keri Russell as Lyla and Robin Williams as Wizard. The story is by Paul Castro, and the screenplay is by Nick Castle and James V. Hart. The film earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
Paramount’s August Rush production team is John Doyle, director; Glen Berger, book and lyrics; Mark Mancina, music and lyrics; Dave Metzger, orchestrator and arranger; JoAnn M. Hunter, choreographer; Greg Jarrett, music director/conductor; Scott Pask, scenic designer; Ann Hould-Ward, costume designer; Paul Toben, lighting designer; Dan Moses Schreier, sound designer; Joe Burke, projection designer; Katie Cordts, wig, hair and makeup designer; Jesse Gaffney, properties designer; Trent Stork and Stewart Whitley, casting; Adam John Hunter, stage manager; Christine D’Amore, assistant stage manager; and Matthew McMullen, assistant stage manager.
Paramount Theatre’s Broadway Series, now in its eighth season, is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, Dunham Fund, ComEd and City of Aurora. August Rush: The Musical is sponsored by Rush-Copley Medical Center.
About Paramount Theatre
Paramount Theatre (ParamountAurora.com), 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora, is the center for performing arts, entertainment and arts education in the second largest city in Illinois. Paramount opened on September 3, 1931. It was designed by renowned theater architects C.W. and George L. Rapp and is graced with a beautiful Venetian decor with a strong 1930s Art Deco influence. It also was the first air-conditioned building outside of Chicago. From silent films to the first “Talkies,” from Vaudeville to Bobby Vinton, from Dionne to Donny and Marie, Paramount Theatre has provided Aurora and the Fox Valley the best of entertainment for generations.
In 1976, the Aurora Civic Center Authority (ACCA) restored Paramount to its original grandeur. Paramount Arts Centre reopened in 1978, offering a variety of touring theatrical, musical, comedy, dance and family programming. In 2006, a 12,000-square-foot, two-story Grand Gallery lobby was added, including a grand staircase, new box office, café and art gallery.
In 2010, ACCA hired Tim Rater as President and CEO of Paramount Theatre. Rater’s mission was to boost the theater’s programming and audience base by transforming Paramount into one of Chicago’s top self-producing, professional Equity musical theaters. Rater hired award-winning Chicago director Jim Corti as Paramount’s first-ever artistic director. In 2011, Paramount introduced its inaugural four-play Broadway Series with Corti’s critically acclaimed production of My Fair Lady. In just eight blockbuster seasons since, Paramount has leapt to the top of Chicago’s musical theater scene, winning unanimous audience and critical acclaim, and an unprecedented number of Joseph Jefferson nominations and awards, including Best Musical-Large three years in a row.
Today, the 1,855-seat Paramount Theatre remains nationally renowned for the quality and caliber of its presentations, historic beauty and superb acoustics. More than 41,000 subscribers from throughout the city and suburbs enjoy Paramount’s Broadway-quality productions at highly affordable prices, making Paramount the second largest subscription house in the nation. In addition to its Broadway Series, Paramount continues to present an eclectic array of internationally known comedians, music stars, dance events and family shows, and on most Mondays, screens a classic movie for just $1.
Paramount is one of three live performance venues programmed and managed by the ACCA, which also oversees Paramount’s “sister” stage, the intimate 173-seat Copley Theatre located across the street from the Paramount at 8 E. Galena Blvd., as well as RiverEdge Park, downtown Aurora’s summer outdoor concert venue at 360 N. Broadway.
Rater and his team also are preparing to open the new Paramount School of the Arts in the John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center, currently under construction adjacent to Paramount. Paramount’s new school will encourage and train young actors, dancers and musicians for a culture-filled life, nurture the arts in Chicago’s western suburbs and add to the excitement, cultural and economic activity in downtown Aurora. Courses for children as young as six months will be offered with opportunities for adults and seniors, as well. Registration is currently open for a full roster of classes, private lessons and camps in acting, music and dance to launch in June of 2019.
Paramount Theatre continues to expand its artistic and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Tim Rater, President and CEO, Aurora Civic Center Authority; Jim Corti, Artistic Director, Paramount Theatre; a dedicated Board of Trustees and a devoted staff of live theater and music professionals.
For more, visit ParamountAurora.com or call (630) 896-6666.