AURORA, IL – You may have been to Oz before. But never like this.
Acclaimed Chicago director Amber Mak dazzled audiences with Paramount’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. She made kids of all ages believe in Santa again with Elf The Musical. Now she’s taking audiences over the rainbow and into another fantastical world with The Wizard of Oz, November 14, 2018-January 6, 2019 at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in Aurora. Press opening is Saturday, November 17, at 8 p.m.
Bring the whole family to experience a musical theater extravaganza, sure to warm hearts this holiday season. Show times are 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. Exceptions: No show Thursday, November 22 (Thanksgiving Day). No show Sunday, December 23, at 5:30 p.m. There is one added Tuesday evening performance on Tuesday, November 27, at 7 p.m. Added family matinees are Friday, December 21, at 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, December 27, at 1:30 p.m.; and Thursday, January 3, at 1 p.m. Evening show times Wednesday and Thursday, January 2 and 3, are at 6 p.m., one hour early. Matinee show times Wednesday and Thursday, January 2 and 3 are at 1 p.m., 30 minutes early.
Join the thousands of families who come through Paramount’s doors each holiday season, ready to pose for photos in front of a two-story Christmas tree and fully decorated lobby. Single tickets to The Wizard of Oz 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. Paramount Theatre is surrounded by affordable parking and a variety of restaurants for pre- or post-show dining. Remember, my pretties, The Wizard of Oz has some scary moments and is suggested for ages 5 and older.
More about Paramount’s The Wizard of Oz
Stuck on a Kansas farm with her aunt, uncle and dog Toto, Dorothy Gale wishes for a better and more exciting life. When a twister hits, Dorothy is whisked away to the wonderful world of Oz, a fantastical place full of munchkins, a cowardly lion, a tin man without a heart, a living scarecrow…and (gulp) a wicked witch who will do whatever it takes to stop Dorothy.
In addition to her day job as Paramount’s New Works Development Director, Amber Mak, a Kansas native herself and veteran performer of eight stagings of The Wizard of Oz, has turned heads creating blockbuster family musicals in downtown Aurora for three consecutive holiday seasons now. For this trip down the yellow brick road, Mak is teaming up with music director Kory Danielson, co-scenic designers Kevin Depinet and Chris Rhoton, costume designer Theresa Ham and puppet designer Jesse Mooney-Bullock, whose awe-inducing oversized puppets for The Little Mermaid turned Paramount’s 30-foot stage into a veritable deep sea aquarium. From the windmills in Kansas to the technicolor land of Oz, this creative team plans to fuse amazing stagecraft, from dancing munchkins, flying characters, to an on-stage 20-foot cyclone, with one of the most familiar all-ages stories of all time.
Donning Dorothy’s ruby red slippers in her Paramount debut is rising Chicago theater star Elizabeth Stenholt, who won hearts as Wendy in Peter Pan at Chicago Shakespeare Theater last summer. Joining Stenholt on her way to see the wizard are a trio of past Paramount leading men: Kyle Adams, so funny as Buddy the Elf in last season’s Elf The Musical, as Scarecrow/Hunk; Carl Draper, lead actor in Oklahoma, Mary Poppins, A Chorus Line and My Fair Lady, as Tinman/Hickory; and Paul-Jordan Jansen, 2017 Jeff Award Winner-Best Actor in a Musical as the demon barber in Paramount’s Sweeney Todd, as Cowardly Lion/Zeke.
Paramount’s principal cast includes Caron Buinis as the Wicked Witch of the West/Almira Gulch, Harriet Nzinga Plumpp as Glinda the Good Witch/Aunt Em and Gene Weygandt as Wizard of Oz/Professor Marvel. The ensemble features Emily Agy, Anastasia Arnold, Anna Brockman, Danielle Davila, Allyson Graves, Christopher Kelley, Maria Montero, Leah Morrow, Steve O’Connell, Nich O’Neil, Jessica Palkovic, Peter Sipla, Anthony Sullivan Jr., Aaron Umsted, Charlie Ward, J Tyler Whitmer and Travis Austin Wright.
Young performers Audrey Edwards, Juliana Filapek and Elyssa Hall are the Lullaby League. Rodney L. Jones III, Sebastian Merlo and Trey Thompson play members of the Lollipop Guild.
And yes, Toto too. Dorothy’s adorable dog will be double cast with two wee Cairn Terriers, Nessa and Nigel, both rescue dogs professionally trained for the stage by William Berloni Theatrical Animals.
Paramount’s full production team is Amber Mak, director/choreographer; Kory Danielson, music director and conductor; Kevin Depinet, co-scenic designer; Chris Rhoton, co-scenic designer; Theresa Ham, costume designer; Greg Hofmann, lighting designer; Kevan Loney, projection designer; Adam Rosenthal, sound designer; Katie Cordts, wig, hair and makeup designer; Jesse Gaffney, properties designer; Jesse Mooney-Bullock, puppetry designer; Ethan Deppe, electronic music designer; Matt Aument, orchestrator; Susan Gosdick, dialect coach; Jinni Pike, stage manager; Kelly Montgomery, assistant stage manager; Megan E. Farley, associate director/ choreographer; and Charlotte Rivard-Hoster, assistant music director and associate conductor.
Amber Mak (director/choreographer) directed and choreographed Paramount’s hit productions of Elf The Musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Hairspray – The Broadway Musical. In 2016, she was hired as Paramount’s full-time New Works Development Director, foretelling an exciting new era of artistic and economic expansion for Paramount. Previously at Paramount, she also was Rachel Rockwell’s assistant director and associate choreographer for the 2014 smash hit Mary Poppins, and she played Bombalurina in Cats. She most recently staged Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s summer production of Peter Pan. Prior to joining Paramount, Mak was founding artistic director of Chicago’s FWD Theatre Project, which collaborated with Claude-Michel Schönberg and
Alain Boublil, co-creators of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, on a concert reading and English premiere of La Révolution Française. Mak also served as Assistant/SDC Observership Fellow for Susan Stroman for Big Fish in Chicago and on Broadway, and she was Jeff-nominated for her choreography of Singin’ in the Rain at Drury Lane Oakbrook. Regional credits include director/choreographer of Mary Poppins and Swing and choreographer for Legally Blonde and The Sound of Music, all at The Little Theatre on the Square, choreographer of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at Rocky Mountain Rep and The Music Man at The Clarence Brown Theatre. Her credits as associate director/choreographer include The Sound of Music, Ragtime, Mary Poppins, Sweeney Todd, Xanadu, Shout and The Emperor’s New Clothes. As a performer, she has been on stage in more than 40 shows nationally including Cabaret, West Side Story, Crazy For You and Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Kory Danielson (music director/conductor) is coming back for his 15th consecutive musical at the Paramount, where he served as music director for this season’s opener, Legally Blonde, last season’s opener, Million Dollar Quartet, as co-music director and associate conductor with Tom Vendafreddo on Jesus Christ Superstar, and assistant music director and associate conductor for Once, Cabaret, Elf The Musical, Sweeney Todd, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Mamma Mia!, West Side Story, Hairspray, A Christmas Story – The Musical, Oklahoma!, Les Misérables and The Who’s Tommy. Other Chicago credits include Assassins, The Full Monty, Loving Repeating, Heathers, Tomorrow Morning (Kokandy Productions); Passion (2014 Jeff Award for Outstanding Music Direction), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Theo Ubique); How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Porchlight Music Theatre); Hedwig, Wedding Singer (Haven Theatre); and Zanna, Don’t!, Lucky Stiff, Triumph of Love (The Music Theatre Company). Danielson has also worked with Drury Lane, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Bailiwick and Hell in a Handbag.
Jesse Mooney-Bullock (puppet designer) operates the puppetry design, production and performance company MoonBull Studio. His award-winning puppets appear in theatres across the country, and original shows tour the Midwest region. From hand-carved bunraku-style ﬁgures to giant creatures of metal and plastic sheeting, MoonBull puppets are pieces of ﬁne art sculpture engineered for visual storytelling. Credits include Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Paramount Theatre), The Oldest Boy (Marin Theatre), The Feast (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and The Hammer Trinity (The House Theatre of Chicago). Original productions include Rikki Tikki Tavi (adaptation from Kipling’s short story), Luigi Bullooney’s Circus Menagerie and How to Build a Flying Machine.
Behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written solely to pleasure children of today,” said L. Frank Baum, who published the novel in 1900 and went on to write 13 more novels about the places and people of Oz. “It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out.”
The 1939 musical fantasy film The Wizard of Oz was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and is widely considered to be one of the greatest movies in cinema history. It starred Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, alongside Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke and Margaret Hamilton. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but lost to Gone with the Wind. It did win in two other categories: Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow” and Best Original Score by Herbert Stothart.
The stage version of The Wizard of Oz is a celebration of the classic 1939 MGM film, with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is based upon the classic motion picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co. and distributed in all media by Warner Bros.
Up next in Paramount’s 2018-19 Broadway Series
Since launching its own Broadway Series in 2011, Paramount has leapt to the top of Chicago’s musical theater scene, winning unanimous critical and audience acclaim, and an unprecedented number of Joseph Jefferson nominations and awards, including Best Musical-Large for the past three seasons.
Following The Wizard of Oz, Paramount’s Broadway Series presents The Producers by Mel Brooks, based on his unforgettable, uproariously funny 1967 film starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Artistic Director Jim Corti directs. Performances are February 6-March 17, 2019. Press opening is Saturday, February 9, at 8 p.m.
For its season finale, and for the first time in its history, Paramount’s fourth Broadway Series production will be a brand new musical, the world premiere of August Rush, based on the Oscar-nominated movie. Internationally acclaimed director John Doyle, who earned a Tony Award for Sweeney Todd and also staged the Broadway revival of The Color Purple starring Jennifer Hudson, will direct this new live stage adaption of the Oscar-nominated Warner Brothers film about a musically gifted orphan and his search for his birth parents. Performances are April 24-June 2, 2019. Press opening is Friday, May 3 at 8 p.m.
For subscription information or single 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.
Paramount Theatre’s Broadway Series, now in its eighth season, is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, Dunham Fund, ComEd and City of Aurora. The Wizard of Oz is sponsored by Jake’s Machining & Rebuilding and Hampton Inn & Suites Aurora.
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 six 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 for the past three consecutive seasons.
Today, the 1,855-seat Paramount Theatre remains nationally renowned for the quality and caliber of its presentations, historic beauty and superb acoustics. Nearly 40,000 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. Stay tuned for the launch of online registration for a full roster of classes, private lessons and camps in acting, music and dance starting in June 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.