The Beast, Belle and everyone’s favorite enchanted castle characters from one of our most beloved animated films will come to incredible new life at Paramount, ready to thrill, entertain and amaze young and old alike.
Per usual, Paramount has big plans for Beauty and the Beast, with a blockbuster production sure to ignite imaginations, enthrall senses, excite emotions and literally open pages to so much possibility. Entire families will be enchanted by classic song-and-dance numbers like “Be Our Guest,” “Belle” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
Returning to direct and co-choreograph her fourth holiday season spectacular in a row is Paramount’s Amber Mak, hot on the heels of last season’s The Wizard of Oz, which earned her Jeff nominations for Best Musical/Large and Best Director, her eye-popping Elf The Musical, and her puppet-filled The Little Mermaid before that.
Paramount’s cast for Beauty and the Beast is led by (top, from left) Beth Stafford Laird (Belle), Paul-Jordan Jansen (Beast),Katherine Lee Bourné (Babette), Nick Druzbanski (LeFou),
Jackson Evans (Lumiere), George Keating (Cogsworth), (bottom) Becca McCoy
(Madame de la Grande Bouche), Emmett O’Hanlon (Gaston), Ron E. Rains (Maurice),
Jennie Sophia (Mrs. Potts), and Aaliyah Montana and Izzie Rose (doubling as Chip).
Paramount favorite Paul-Jordan Jansen, who won hearts last season as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, and earned the Jeff Award for Best Actor in a Musical as Sweeney Todd in 2017, also returns as the Beast.
(Left, center) Paul-Jordan Jansen as the Cowardly Lion (with Kyle Adams as Scarecrow and Carl Draper as Tin Man) in Paramount's 2018 Jeff nominated Best Musical The Wizard of Oz, also directed by Amber Mak. (Right) Jansen won the 2017 Jeff Award for Best Actor in a Musical as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Paramount's Sweeney Todd. Photos by Liz Lauren.
Making her Chicago debut as Belle is Beth Stafford Laird, a veteran of the first national tours of Anastasia, Newsies and Ghost The Musical, and the international tour of Beauty and the Beast.
Celebrate the power and wonder of live theater at the majestic Paramount where a two-story Christmas tree and spectacular lobby also await, decorated to create memories for a lifetime.
Previews of Beauty and the Beast start November 13. Press opening is Friday, November 22 at 8 p.m. Performances run through January 19: 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.
Exceptions: No 1:30 p.m. matinee Wednesday, November 13. No show Thursday, November 28 (Thanksgiving). Added shows Friday, November 29 at 3 p.m. and Tuesday, December 17 at 7 p.m. No shows Wednesday, December 25 (Christmas). Added matinees Thursday, December 19 at 1:30 p.m., December 26 at 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, December 31 at 3 p.m.
Note: All Friday performances in January (January 3, 10 and 17) begin at 7 p.m. Saturday show times in January (January 4, 11 and 18) are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Single tickets are $36 to $74. 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.
Beauty and the Beast is recommended for ages 5 and up for including some scary moments.
Note: Paramount offers live, real-time ASL interpretation for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing at one performance of each Broadway Series production. Beauty and twill be presented with live ASL interpretation on Friday, December 27 at 8 p.m. Patrons can purchase $30 tickets with special seating for this performance with the code ASLPARAMOUNT. Or, ask the box office about a discounted subscription package for Paramount’s three remaining ASL interpreted Broadway performances during the 2019-20 season.
“Once Upon a Time”
More about Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Once upon a time on a bitter winter’s night, a vain young prince finds a beggar woman asking for shelter. Disgusted by her appearance, he sends her far away. The old woman transforms into a magical enchantress who places a curse upon the prince to appear as hideous on the outside as he is on the inside. Given a magical rose, he must learn to love and find love in return before the last petal drops, or he is doomed to remain a beast forever locked inside his enchanted castle. But who could ever learn to love a beast?
“I was a young girl when the animated Disney adaptation came out. I remember sitting in the theater and being terrified of the wolves, sympathetic to the Beast and deeply identifying with Belle because of her love of books and adventure,” said director Amber Mak. “Re-visiting this story now as an adult and mother, I am surprised and intrigued in a whole new way. The words ‘Beauty’ and ‘Beast’ that at one time seemed antithetical and simple, now seem to hold such a complex and fluid relationship. What does it actually mean to be human? What separates human from beast? What role does beauty play as a defining human characteristic? Or is it?”
Beauty and the Beast boasts music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton. The live stage version is adapted from Walt Disney Pictures' Academy Award-winning 1991 animated musical film of the same name, which in turn had been based on the classic French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. Critics immediately noted the film's Broadway musical potential when it was first released in 1991, providing the encouragement then Disney CEO Michael Eisner needed to first venture into Broadway. After tryouts in Houston, Beauty and the Beast opened on Broadway on April 18, 1994 to mixed reviews, but was a massive commercial success. Beauty ran for 5,461 performances over 13 years, becoming Broadway's tenth longest-running production in history. It has since grossed more than $1.4 billion worldwide and played in more than thirteen countries and 115 cities.
Joining Beth Stafford Laird as Belle and Paul-Jordan Jansen as the Beast in Paramount’s new production are principal cast members Katherine Lee Bourné (Babette), Nick Druzbanski (LeFou), Jackson Evans (Lumiere), George Keating (Cogsworth), Becca McCoy (Madame de la Grande Bouche), Emmett O’Hanlon (Gaston), Ron E. Rains (Maurice), Jennie Sophia (Mrs. Potts), and young actors Aaliyah Montana and Izzie Rose doubling as Chip. The ensemble is Brian Bandura, Danielle Davila, Billy Dawson, Evan C. Dolan, Timothy P. Foszcz, Christopher John Kelley, Taylor Lane, Ashley Lanyon, Bernell Lassai III, Ivory Leonard IV, Jenna Napolitano, Nich O’Neil, Sara Reinecke, Elizabeth Romero, Aalon Smith, Darian Tene, Katherine Viviano and Charles Emery Ward. Trevor Vanderzee will perform the role of Gaston January 8-19, 2020.
Paramount’s full production team includes Amber Mak, director/co-choreographer; Todd Rhoades, co-choreographer; Kory Danielson, music supervisor and music director/conductor; Jeff Kmiec, scenic designer; Theresa Ham, costume designer; Jesse Klug, lighting designer; Adam Rosenthal, sound designer; Mike Tutaj, projection designer; Katie Cordts, wig, hair and makeup designer; Jesse Gaffney, properties designer; Christopher Rose, magic designer; Ethan Deppe, electronic music designer; Jerry Galante, fight choreographer; Susan Gosdick, dialect coach; Landree Fleming, assistant director; Charlotte Rivard-Hoster, assistant music director/associate conductor; Jinni Pike, stage manager; and Kelly Montgomery, assistant stage manager.
Amber Mak (director/co-choreographer) was hired in 2016 as Paramount’s New Works Development Director, foretelling an exciting new era of artistic and economic expansion for Paramount. In addition to spearheading Paramount’s new works projects, Mak directed and choreographed Paramount’s hit productions of The Wizard of Oz, which earned 7 Jeff Award nominations including Best Musical and Best Director, as well as Elf The Musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Hairspray – The Broadway Musical. 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 also staged Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s summer 2018 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 supervisor and music director/conductor) served as music director for Paramount’s productions of Legally Blonde, The Wizard of Oz and Million Dollar Quartet, 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 credits include Peter Pan (Chicago Shakespeare); 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); Hedwig and the Angry Inch, 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.
Up next in Paramount’s 2019-20 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 three consecutive seasons.
Following Beauty and the Beast in Paramount’s 2019-20 Broadway Series is The Secret of My Success, a world premiere musical based on the hit 1987 Universal Pictures film starring Michael J. Fox, featuring a book by acclaimed writers Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen, score by Chicago’s own Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler, and direction by Gordon Greenberg, February 12-March 29, 2020.
Paramount’s season finale is the Midwest regional premiere of the high kicking musical Kinky Boots, book by Harvey Fierstein, lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, directed by Paramount’s Trent Stork, April 29-June 14, 2020.
Join the growing ranks of more than 41,000 Broadway Series subscribers at downtown Aurora’s Paramount Theatre, now the most heavily subscribed theater in all of Chicago and second largest in the nation. Discounted Broadway packages are still available. To subscribe or for single tickets, visit ParamountAurora.com, call (630) 896-6666, or stop by the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora.
Paramount’s Broadway Series is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, Dunham Fund, ComEd and the City of Aurora. Beauty and the Beast is sponsored by Jake’s Inc. and Hampton Inn & Suites Aurora.
About Paramount Theatre
Paramount Theatre, 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, the Fox Valley and all of Chicagoland 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. His mission was to boost the theater’s programming and audience by transforming Paramount into one of Chicago’s top self- producing, professional Equity 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 1,843-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, soon-to-be-renovated 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 celebrated the grand opening of the new Paramount School of the Arts on June 1, 2019. Paramount’s new school, which anchors the John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center directly adjacent to the theater, is encouraging and training young actors, dancers and musicians for a culture-filled life, nurturing the arts in Chicago’s western suburbs and adding to the excitement, cultural and economic activity in downtown Aurora. Courses for children as young as six months are offered with opportunities for adults and seniors. Registration is now open for a full roster of classes, private lessons and camps in acting, music and dance. For more, visit ParamountSchool.com.
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.