Paramount announces ‘edgier’ season
By Jenette Sturges firstname.lastname@example.org March 7, 2013 2:04PM
"In the Heights" will be one of the productions in the Paramount Theatre's 2013-2014 Broadway series.
Updated: April 9, 2013 11:18AM
AURORA — The curtain has just risen for “Fiddler on the Roof,” the last of this season’s popular Broadway series shows at the Paramount Theatre, but big things are already in the works for next season.
“It’s going to be a big, big production,” Tim Rater, executive director of the Paramount said about “42nd Street,” in the lineup for the Paramount Theatre’s third Broadway season. “It’s very hard to produce in any small way. It’s just a very grandiose production.”
But the upcoming season announced by the Paramount Thursday promises more than grand scale — it promises something new for audiences, including a few edgier, more contemporary titles.
The season will kick off in September with “In the Heights,” a Tony Award-winner about life in the Dominican-American Washington Heights neighborhood of New York.
The show first opened on Broadway in 2008, and the Paramount’s production will mark the Chicago professional debut for the show.
Rachel Rockwell, recently heaped with praise for her work on “Annie” and “Hair” at the Paramount, will return to direct both “In the Heights” and “42nd Street.”
The Paramount’s Artistic Director Jim Corti will direct the more adult-themed “Miss Saigon” and “Rent,” which Rater said represents both what loyal Paramount subscribers asked for and a show that might appeal to new audiences.
“We needed to have a base of support before endeavouring into this area with shows that are little edgier,” Rater said. “We don’t want to alienate anyone, but we want to do things that are relevant.”
The show’s suggested ratings will be PG-13 and R, respectively, though they may still attract a younger crowd — West Aurora High School earned national attention in 2007 and 2008 when it produced both shows and their adult themes of violence and sexuality, as spring musicals.
Big shows, longer runs
Of course, the Paramount promises to put on a show like no other, and Rater said he is proud of the work of the Broadway series this season in staging more family friendly, crowd favorites, even shows that people say they’ve all seen one time too many.
“I’ve heard several times this season, ‘I wasn’t sure I would enjoy that show, but I really did.’ Maybe they’d seen it in community theater or a high school production left a bad taste in their mouth for a particular show,” Rater said. “Then we do it on the scale that it was created to be done and they can fall in love with the show again.”
He said there’s a formula that’s working for the Paramount — bigger-than-Broadway scale productions, top talent and accessible prices.
“We’re going to keep that formula,” he said. “We’re not going to mess with it too much, it’s really working.”
That said, there will be one change to this year’s schedule — longer, four-week runs for every show.
“Ticket sales have been strong, we’re at a point where we need to expand,” he said.