Showing posts with label regional premiere. Show all posts
Showing posts with label regional premiere. Show all posts

Saturday, August 28, 2021


ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar: 


Cast, creative team embrace "the perfect show to reopen our doors"



Kinky Boots has been one of my favorite musicals since the Pre-Broadway opening right here in Chicago, that I reviewed for ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows. It was a joy to meet Cyndi Lauper, Harvey Fierstein and the original cast and creatives at that first press junket. I also reviewed the show again when the Broadway touring company came back through Chicago again. That time it was my pleasure to bring the whole family along and they loved it just as much as I did. Now that we're in a post quarantine time of social and economic upheaval, where many businesses need to pivot or go under, this show is as timely as ever. This wonderful tale of resilience, acceptance, and change is the perfect piece for a covid weary world. I'm thrilled to hear our regional theatre arts are rebounding and I can't wait to catch live theatre in person again, and check out Paramount Theatre's rendition of Kinky Boots. 

Nearly 16 months after dimming its famous marquee due to COVID-19, Aurora’s Paramount Theatre has started rehearsals for its 10th Anniversary Broadway Series season opener, Kinky Boots, marking a pivotal moment for the second largest subscription house in the nation as it returns to live performances next month. 

“It’s my great pleasure to say: We look forward to being one of the first major theaters in Chicago to welcome audiences back, starting August 18! We appreciate our patrons for staying with us. We couldn’t do any of it without you,” said Tim Rater, President and CEO of Paramount Theatre.

Kinky Boots – the flashy, sassy, sexy story of big heels invading a small town – shook Broadway and was adored by critics and audiences, winning every major Best Musical Award including the Tony, the Grammy and London’s Olivier Award. The now mega-popular musical features high-kicking music and lyrics by Grammy-winner Cyndi Lauper, and a book rooted in fun, love and acceptance by Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein.

Paramount Theatre’s Kinky Boots is directed by (from left) Trent Stork. The cast features Devin DeSantis as Charlie, Michael Wordly as Lola, Mark Lancaster as Don, Emilie Lynn as Nicola and Sara Reinecke as Lauren.

Now it’s Paramount’s turn to try Lola’s red, thigh-high stilettos on for size with the first regional production of Kinky Boots, fiercely directed by Paramount’s Associate Artistic Producer and Casting Director Trent Stork.

Meet Charlie, a reluctant shoemaker, and Lola, a fierce drag queen. Charlie and Lola could not be more different. But when they find common ground in shoes, they see a whole new world of possibilities that will turn their small town upside down, and just might save Charlie’s failing shoe factory. Inspired by true events, this huge-hearted hit tells the story of two people with nothing in common – or so they think. From its glorious costumes, to its dizzyingly tall heels and songs that will leave audiences humming for days, no show captures what it means to do what you love and love what you do more than Kinky Boots. 


Michael Wordly plays Lola in Kinky Boots.

“Kinky Boots is the perfect show to reopen our doors,” said Stork. “Kinky Boots has moments that feel like a rock show and tender-hearted moments that make you lean in. It expands from killer dance numbers to a book that is as humorous as it is heartening. It’s a show that makes audiences want to connect with their fellow humans. I think we can all use that right now!”

Kinky Boots runs August 18 to October 17, 2021. Paramount Theatre is located at 23 E. Galena Blvd. in Aurora. Single tickets, $36-$74, are on sale now. For tickets and information, visit, or call the box office, (630) 896-6666, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

(Top) Set rendering for Kinky Boots "Land of Lola" scene by Kevin Depinet and Christopher Rhoton. (Bottom) Kinky Boots costume renderings for Lola and Angel by costumer designer Ryan Park

Paramount’s 33-member Kinky Boots cast starts with one of Chicago’s most distinguished leading men, Devin DeSantis, as Charlie the shoemaker. DeSantis’s Paramount credits include Tommy in The Who’s Tommy, Corny Collins in Hairspray and Prince Eric in Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Lola will be played by Michael Wordly in his Paramount debut. Wordly is a veteran of Spamilton Off-Broadway, national tours of Miss Saigon, The Color Purple and The Little Mermaid, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella at Paper Mill Playhouse.

The principal cast also features Mark Lancaster as Don. Lancaster has performed for Goodman Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Oak Park Festival Theatre and Babes With Blades. Emilie Lynn will play Nicola. Lynn recently starred as Mary Poppins at Drury Lane Oakbrook. Her Paramount credits include My Fair Lady, Miss Saigon and Hair. Lauren is played by Sara Reinecke, a stand out performer in many Paramount musicals including Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Producers, Legally Blonde and Mamma Mia! Young actor Daniel Font-Wilets plays Young Lola. Patrick Scott McDermott and Nolan Maddox will alternate as Young Charlie.

Completing the cast are ensemble members Terrell Armstrong, Anthony Avino, Brian Bandura, Matthew Bettencourt, Lydia Burke, Jack Cahill-Lemme, Barry DeBois, Vasily Deris, Neil Friedman, Carisa Gonzalez, Christina Hall, Luke Halpern, Immanuel Houston, Dakota Hughes, De’Jah Jervai, Mark David Kaplan, Christopher John Kelley, Bernell Lassai III, Ken Singleton, Anthony Sullivan Jr., Dana Tretta, Shelbi Voss, J Tyler Whitmer and Missy Wise.

The full production team is Trent Stork, director; Michael George and Isaiah Silvia-Chandley, co-choreographers; Kory Danielson, music director, conductor and music supervisor; Kevin Depinet and Christopher Rhoton,

co-scenic designers; Ryan Park, costume designer; Greg Hofmann, lighting designer; Adam Rosenthal, sound designer; Joe Burke, projection designer; Katie Cordts, wig, hair and makeup designer; Jesse Gaffney, properties designer; Ethan Deppe, electronic music designer; Catherine Miller, dramaturg and gender consultant; Susan Gosdick, dialect coach; John A. Tovar, fight director; Gaby Labotka, intimacy director; Max J. Cervantes, associate director; Darren Patin, associate director; TJ Tapp, assistant choreographer; Celia Villacres, associate music director/associate conductor; Jinni Pike, stage manager; Luci Kersting, assistant stage manager; Natalie Cohen; production assistant; and Bailey O’Neill, young performer supervisor.

Trent Stork (director), promoted in spring 2021 to Associate Artistic Producer and Casting Director at Paramount, has worked on the directing team for 19 productions at the theater, 13 of those alongside Paramount Artistic Director Jim Corti. In 2018, Stork made his Paramount directorial debut at the helm of Legally Blonde ( Award – Best Direction of a Musical.) Outside of Paramount, Stork has worked at the Kaufman Center in New York City, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Angels Theatre Company and The Nebraska Repertory Theatre among others. They also started his own casting company, Trent Stork Casting, and was the Chicago casting director for the new West Side Story adaptation, directed by Steven Spielberg.

The original Broadway production of Kinky Boots, music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, book by Harvey Fierstein, was directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, The musical is based on the Miramax motion picture Kinky Boots written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth.

Kinky Boots performance schedule and ticket information

Kinky Boots runs through October 17. Show times are Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Thursdays at 7 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. (exception: No 1:30 p.m. matinee on August 18). Tickets are $36 to $74. 

For tickets and information, visit,  call (630) 896-6666, or stop by the Paramount box office Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Covid 19 protocols

Paramount Theatre will be adhering to all COVID-19 safety guidelines as mandated by the state of Illinois. Paramount anticipates updated guidelines by the state for indoor theater gatherings, and will communicate any updates and changes to policies with all ticket buyers. If Phase 5 gatherings require COVID-19 vaccinations for attendees, patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination to attend this performance. By purchasing tickets patrons are agreeing to adhere to the guidelines put in place at the time of their performance.

Access Services

To request wheelchair, special seating or other assistance, please contact the box office at (630) 896-6666 or in advance

Paramount offers assistive listening devices free of charge at all performances. Check in at the coat room before the show to borrow a listening device.

For patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, Kinky Boots will be presented on Friday, October 1 at 8 p.m. with two certified sign interpreters translating all dialogue and lyrics into American Sign Language. Patrons can purchase single tickets with special seating for this performance for $30 with the code ASLPARAMOUNT.

Or, ask for a sign-interpreted subscription to enjoy all four 2021-22 Paramount Broadway Series productions with live ASL interpretation for just $22.50 each.

What’s next in Paramount’s 10th Anniversary Broadway Series?

Cinderella, the classic musical from the genius minds of Rodgers and Hammerstein, is an enchanting story that will make entire families wish fairy godmothers and glass slippers weren’t just for fairy tales. Paramount is planning a mesmerizing new production that gives parents and children a familiar yet reimagined take on the story families have returned to over and over across generations. Brenda Didier, a multiple Jeff Award-winning director and choreographer, including a win for her choreography for Paramount’s 2019 staging of The Producers, will direct. Previews start November 10. Opening Night is Friday, November 19, at 8 p.m. Performances run through January 9, 2022.


Groundhog Day, based on the classic Bill Murray film comedy, will be the second Midwest regional premiere produced by Paramount Theatre in the span of one year. Imagine being stuck in a time loop, waking up and realizing you’re living the same day over and over and over and over again. Set your alarm to make sure you see this uproariously funny, surprisingly touching and simply inspirational musical comedy, nominated for seven Tony Awards. Paramount Theatre Artistic Director Jim Corti will direct. Previews start January 26, 2022. Opening Night is Friday, February 4, at 8 p.m. Performances run through March 13.

Are you ready to rock? Rock of Ages will take audiences back into the iconic music era of the ‘80s, where rock ‘n’ roll dreamers turn their fantasies into reality. Nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Rock of Ages is a Hollywood love story told through the mind-blowing hits of top ‘80s rock bands like Journey, Bon Jovi, Styx, Poison and more. Paramount Theatre Artistic Producer and New Works Director Amber Mak will direct. Previews start April 13. Press opening is Friday, April 22, at 8 p.m. Performances run through May 29, 2022.

Join the growing ranks of more than 41,000 Broadway Series subscribers at downtown Aurora’s Paramount Theatre. New three--play subscriptions including Cinderella, Groundhog Day and Rock of Ages are on sale now, ranging from $54 to $118.50 (without fees).

To subscribe or purchase single tickets, visit, call (630) 896-6666, or stop by the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora.

About Paramount Theatre

 Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in Aurora, is the center for performing arts and education in the second largest city in Illinois. Designed by renowned theater architects C.W. and George L. Rapp,

Paramount opened on September 3, 1931. Today, Paramount remains downtown Aurora’s anchor attraction, a beautiful, 1,843-seat theater graced with a 1930s Art Deco influence and original Venetian décor, nationally known for its high-quality productions, superb acoustics and historic grandeur.

Since Paramount Theatre launched its own Broadway Series in 2011, it has grown to be the second largest subscription house in the U.S. More than 41,000 subscribers signed up from all over Chicagoland and the Midwest in 2019-20 to enjoy Paramount’s affordable, critically acclaimed, Broadway-quality productions.

In addition to its Broadway Series, Paramount presents an array of internationally known comedians, music stars, dance events and family shows.

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.

Paramount is one of five live venues programmed and managed by the Aurora Civic Center Authority. ACCA also oversees the newly-renovated, 165-seat Copley Theatre, right across the street from Paramount; RiverEdge Park, the city’s outdoor concert venue; Stolp Island Theatre, slated to open in summer 2022 as a 99-seat immersive theater space, and the new Paramount School of the Arts.

For the latest updates, visit or follow @ParamountAurora on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

OPENING: Catch The Regional Premiere of Disaster Via CHICAGO THEATRE WORKSHOP at The Edge Theater


Earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and the unforgettable songs of the '70s take center stage in Broadway’s side-splitting homage to classic disaster films.

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we're eager to catch Chicago Theatre Workshop's Disaster. We've been impressed with their past offerings and this looks like a hilarious night out. I've known Melissa Young (SHIRLEY) since the mid 90's and she was even in a show I wrote at Blue Rider Theatre back in the day. Even though I review an average of 6 shows a week now, it's still fun to see friends in shows. We also love The Edge Theater space -- comfy seats and cup holders, people! What better way to watch DISASTER unfold? Sadly I'm already booked, reviewing elsewhere on their two press opening dates, but I'll be out shortly after, on the 20th. Check back soon for my full review.

It's 1979, and New York's hottest A-listers are lining up for the opening of a floating casino and discotheque. Also attending is a faded disco star, a sexy nightclub singer with her eleven-year-old twins, a disaster expert, a feminist reporter, an older couple with a secret, a pair of young guys who are looking for ladies, an untrustworthy businessman and a nun with a gambling addiction. What begins as a night of boogie fever quickly changes to panic as the ship succumbs to multiple disasters, such as earthquakes, tidal waves and infernos. As the night turns into day, everyone struggles to survive and, quite possibly, repair the love that they've lost... or at least escape the killer rats.

The CTW cast includes; CHAD - Nathan Cooper, MARIANNE - Shannon McEldowney, SCOTT - Warren Dailey, TED - Dan Gold, TONY - Charlie Ward, JACKIE - Elissa Newcorn, BEN/LISA - Pierce Cleaveland, LEVORA - Jessica Vann, SISTER MARY - Britain Gebhardt, SHIRLEY - Melissa Young, MAURY - Shane Roberie, ENSEMBLE - Marcellus Burt, Kaleb Van Rijswijck, Lily Cox, Kara Schoenhofer.


The creative team includes; Evan Frank (Set Designer), Jennifer Kules and Collin Helou (Lighting Designers), Shelby Brand (Costume & Prop Design), Mike Patrick (Sound Design), Samantha Kittleson (Assistant Director) Ben Baylon (Director), Megan Farly (Choreographer), Oliver Townsend (Musical Director), Tom Mullen (Artistic Director)

DISASTER opens to previews APRIL 12, 2018. Performances run every Thursday & Friday at 7:30 pm, Saturday’s at 8:00 pm and Sunday’s at 3:00 pm thru May 6th at The EDGE Theater which is located at 5451 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640.

For more information on Chicago Theatre Workshop please visit us at

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