Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Message In A Bottle Now Playing Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago For a Limited One-week Engagement February 28 – March 3, 2024

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Message In A Bottle

Choreography by Kate Prince, set to the most celebrated hits of world-renowned artist, Sting, is now playing in Chicago

for a limited one-week engagement

February 28 – March 3, 2024

Audiences can now see Message In A Bottle, a new dance theatre production choregraphed by Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist Kate Prince at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre for a limited run, from February 28, 2024 to March 3, 2024. Produced by Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music UK, Message In A Bottle is a dance theatre production set to the music of 17-time Grammy Award-winning artist Sting. Tickets are now available for this smashing production. Prices range from $32 to $95 with a select number of premium tickets available for all performances. Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710 or emailing Current Broadway In Chicago subscribers can add to their subscription by calling (312) 977-1717.

Performance Schedule

Wednesday through Friday 7:00PM (Thursday, February 29 Matinee at 1:00PM)

Saturday at 2:00PM and 7:30PM

Sunday at 1:00PM and 6:30PM

Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music UK present Message In A Bottle, a new dance theatre production by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Kate Prince, set to the music of 17-time Grammy Award-winning artist Sting. Message In A Bottle made its world premiere at Sadler’s Wells’ West End venue, the Peacock Theatre, on Wednesday 19 February 2020. Gravity-defying lyrical hip hop dance and breath-taking music combine in a moving story of humanity and hope.

Message In A Bottle sees a village alive with joyous celebrations suddenly come under siege. In the chaos, three siblings - Leto, Mati and Tana - are separated from their parents. They undertake a perilous journey to new lands and set out on their own extraordinary adventures. Songs include Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Walking On The Moon, Englishman In New York, Shape Of My Heart and Fields Of Gold.

The soundtrack to Message In A Bottle also features new vocals by Sting and new arrangements by Grammy and Tony award winner Alex Lacamoire (Hamilton, The Greatest Showman), with guest vocals from award-winning actress and singer Beverley Knight MBE and Lynval Golding (The Specials).

About Kate Prince MBE Director and Choreographer

Kate Prince is a director, writer and choreographer. She is also the Artistic Director of ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company which she founded in 2002. Kate is an Associate Artist at both The Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells, where ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company is also a Resident Company.

In 2005 Sadler’s Wells commissioned the company’s first full-length work, Into the Hoods, conceived and directed by Kate. The show’s premiere in 2006 met with widespread critical acclaim and Into the Hoods went on to become the first hip hop dance show to transfer to the West End in 2008, after two critically successful runs at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Kate’s further work with ZooNation includes the Olivier-nominated Some Like It Hip Hop (The Peacock, 2011- 13, 2019 and two UK tours), Groove on Down the Road (Southbank Centre, 2013-14), ZooNation: Unplugged (Sadler’s Wells, 2013), The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio, 2014 and Roundhouse, 2016), Into the Hoods: Remixed (The Peacock, 2015-16 and UK tour), and SYLVIA (The Old Vic, 2018). The company created special performances for Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations and for the Laurence Olivier Awards in 2011, creating new choreography for West Side Story with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

For TV, Kate’s credits include work for Strictly Come Dancing, So You Think You Can Dance, The Royal Variety Show, Top of the Pops, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Take Away, CD:UK, Blue Peter, Strictly Dance Fever, Sport Relief, The Album Chart Show, Discomania and PopWorld. Her film work includes choreography for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, StreetDance 3D and The Holloway Laundrette, which she wrote & directed for BAFTA/Channel 4.

Other theatre work includes Everybody’s Talking About Jamie for Jonathan Butterell (Sheffield Crucible & West End, nominated for Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer), Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk (National Theatre), Stephen Mear’s Shoes (Sadler’s Wells and The Peacock), I Can’t Sing: The X-Factor Musical (London Palladium) and A Mad World My Masters (Royal Shakespeare Company), both for Sean Foley.

With ZooNation she has also created choreography for sporting events, including the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Handover Ceremonies (2008), the Opening Ceremony of the Tour de France (2007) and the IOC opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics at the Royal Opera House. In 2018, ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company became an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation and a registered charity, in recognition of its mission to inspire the next generation of theatregoers and theatremakers. In 2020, Kate was the subject of the BBC Imagine Documentary series presented by Alan Yentob entitled Kate Prince: Every Move She Makes.

Kate has been nominated for five Olivier Awards, a South Bank Sky Arts Award, a WhatsOnStage Award and two Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. Kate has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Winchester and in 2019 Kate received an MBE for services to dance.=

Most recently Kate co-wrote, directed and choreographed SYLVIA at the Old Vic, for which she was nominated for the Gillian Lynne Olivier Award for best theatre choreographer.

Kate’s proudest achievement is being Leo’s wife and Ella’s mum.

About Sting Music and Lyrics

Composer, singer-songwriter, actor, author, and activist Sting was born in Newcastle, England before moving to London in 1977 to form The Police with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. The band released five studio albums, earned six GRAMMY Awards® and two Brits, and was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

One of the world’s most distinctive solo artists, Sting has received an additional 11 GRAMMY Awards®, two Brits, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, four Oscar nominations, a TONY nomination and has sold 100 million albums from his combined work with The Police and as a solo artist. He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has received the Kennedy Center Honors, as well as honorary Doctorate of Music degrees from Northumbria University (1992), Berklee College of Music (1994), University of Newcastle upon Tyne (2006) and Brown University (2018).

Sting, managed by Martin Kierszenbaum/Cherrytree Music Company, has appeared in more than 15 films, a variety of TV shows and authored two books, including The New York Times best-selling memoir, Broken Music. In 1989 he starred in The Threepenny Opera on Broadway.  His most recent theatre project is the Tony®-nominated musical The Last Ship, inspired by his memories of the shipbuilding community of Wallsend in the northeast of England where he was born and raised.

In 2019, an album entitled My Songs, featuring contemporary interpretations of his most celebrated hits, was released, and followed by a world tour and acclaimed Las Vegas residency of the same name. Sting’s latest album, The Bridge, showcases his prolific and diverse songwriting prowess, representing various stages and styles from throughout his unrivaled career. Most recently, Sting produced Shaggy’s album, Com Fly Wid Mi which finds the reggae icon performing the Sinatra songbook in a reggae style and earned a Grammy Award nomination for it.

Earlier this year, Sting became a Fellow of the Ivors Academy – the highest honor reserved for those who have reshaped and redefined the art and craft of music creation, while his hit song, “Every Breath You Take” was added to Spotify’s ‘Billions Club,’ having amassed over 1 billion streams on the platform with the correlating music video surpassing 1 billion streams on YouTube. His critically acclaimed My Songs world tour is currently underway and finds the 17-time Grammy Award winning artist performing his most beloved songs with an electric rock ensemble. Full tour itinerary can be found here.

Sting’s support for human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, and Live Aid mirrors his art in its universal outreach.  Along with wife Trudie Styler, Sting founded the Rainforest Fund in 1989 to protect both the world’s rainforests and the indigenous people living there. Together they have held 19 benefit concerts to raise funds and awareness for our planet’s endangered resources. Since its inception, the Rainforest Fund has expanded to a network of interconnected organizations working in more than 20 countries over three continents.

For the latest news, official fan club access and more, please visit:

About Sadler’s Wells

Sadler's Wells is a world-leading dance organisation. We strive to make and share dance that inspires us all. Our acclaimed year-round programme spans dance of every kind, from contemporary to flamenco, Bollywood to ballet, salsa to street dance and tango to tap. 

We commission, produce and present more dance than any other organisation in the world. Since 2005, we have helped to bring more than 200 new dance works to the stage, embracing both the popular and the unknown. Our acclaimed productions tour the world. Since 2005 we’ve produced 64 new full-length works and performed to audiences of more than two million, touring to 51 countries. 

Each year, over half a million people visit our three London theatres - Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Lilian Baylis Studio and Peacock Theatre. Millions more attend our touring productions nationally and internationally or explore our digital platforms, including Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage.  

Sadler’s Wells East  

In 2024 we’re opening a fourth London venue in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Sadler’s Wells East will house a 550-seat mid-scale theatre, as well as facilities for the new Rose Choreographic School and the hip hop theatre training centre, Academy Breakin’ Convention.  

Sadler’s Wells East joins the rich cultural heritage of Stratford, opening in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of the East Bank development alongside the BBC, UAL’s London College of Fashion, UCL and the V&A. Sadler’s Wells East will support artist development and training, and the creation of new work. It will build the infrastructure for dance and make it accessible to more people. Sadler’s Wells East will house a flexible theatre presenting a wide variety of dance performances. Community will be at the heart of Sadler’s Wells East with a large open foyer that can be used by everyone as a meeting or performance space. There will also be dance studios and world-class dance facilities for dancemakers to train, create and rehearse productions. 

Supporting artists 

Supporting artists is at the heart of our work. We have associate artists and companies, which nurture some of the most exciting talent working in dance today. We host the National Youth Dance Company, which draws together some of the brightest young dancers from across the country. Sadler’s Wells Breakin' Convention runs professional development programmes to champion and develop the world’s best hip hop artists, as well as producing, programming and touring groundbreaking hip hop performances. 

Learning and community links 

Around 30,000 people take part in our learning and engagement programmes every year. We support schools local to our theatres in Islington and Stratford, designing experiences for children and young people to watch, explore and critically engage with the arts. We also run Company of Elders, a resident performance company of dancers aged over 60 who rehearse with renowned artists to make new work for public performances locally, nationally and internationally. 

Sadler’s Wells is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. 

Stay up to date with everything Sadler’s Wells on social media 

Facebook: @SadlersWells 

Twitter: @Sadlers_Wells 

Instagram: @sadlers_wells 

YouTube: Sadler’s Wells Theatre 

About Broadway In Chicago

Broadway In Chicago was created in July 2000 and over the past 24 years has grown to be one of the largest commercial touring homes in the country. A Nederlander Presentation, Broadway In Chicago lights up the Chicago Theater District entertaining up to 1.7 million people annually in five theatres. Broadway In Chicago presents a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of five of the finest theatres in Chicago’s Loop including the Cadillac Palace Theatre, CIBC Theatre, James M. Nederlander Theatre, and just off the Magnificent Mile, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place and presenting Broadway shows at the Auditorium Theatre.

For more information, visit

Follow @BroadwayInChicago

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Monday, February 26, 2024

Music Theater Works Presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee March 7 - 31st, 2024

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Perfect for All Ages, with Adult Only Performances, Spelling Bee Invites Audiences to Join This Group of Unique and Dedicated Students as they Compete for the Spelling Bee Championship in this Hilarious Musical 

Tickets Only $25 for those Younger than 25 Years Old.

Music Theater Works is proud to announce the cast and creative team for the first production of its 2024 season, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, in the North Theatre at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts In Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, March 7 - 31. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, conceived by Rebecca Feldman, additional material by Jay Reiss, music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin, is directed and choreographed by Christopher Pazdernik, assistant directed and choreographed by Keely Vasquez and music directed by Michael McBride. The schedule includes a preview performance Thursday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m. I'll be out for the press opening March 8th so check back soon for my full review. 

The performance schedule is Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 p.m., Saturday, March 16 at 2 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. The two performances: Saturday, March 23 and March 27 at 7:30 p.m., are for guests 18 years old and above as words spelled will be of an adult nature and may not be suitable for children.Tickets are now on sale from $39 to $106 with tickets for guests 25 years old and younger available at half-price at or by calling the Music Theater Works box office at the North Shore Center, 847.673.6300. Group discounts are also available for groups of 10 or more by contacting 847.920.5360.

Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has won the hearts of theatergoers across the country with its mix of wit, wills, and audience participation. Join this group of unique and dedicated students as they compete for the spelling bee championship that celebrates the pursuit of the ultimate prize while finding the joy of being oneself.

The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee includes Neala Barron (she/her, Rona Lisa Peretti); Zach Kunde (he/him, Douglas Panch); Michael Davis Arnold (he/him, Mitch Mahoney); Will Koski (he/him, William Barfée); Rachel Guth (she/her, Olive Ostrovsky); Jamie Dillon Grossman (she/her, Logainne  Schwartzandgrubenierre); Mai Hartwich (she/her, Marcy Park); Joe Lewis (he/him, Leaf Coneybear) and Brandon Acosta (he/him, Chip Tolentino). The understudies include Joselle Reyes (she/her, Marcy/Olive U/S); Kevin Parra (he/him, Leaf/Chip U/S); Dane Strange (he/him, Barfee/Mitch U/S); Lilli Galuzzo (she/they, Logainne/Rona U/S) and Bryson Howard (he/him, Panch U/S). 

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’s creative team is Christopher Pazdernik (any with respect, director/choreographer); Keely Vasquez (she/her, assistant director and assistant choreographer); Michael McBride (he/him, music director); Amber Wuttke (she/her, fight & intimacy choreographer); Allison Gonzales (she/her, stage manager); Ethan Colish (he/him, assistant stage manager); Ben Lipinski (he/him, scenic designer/paint charge); Ab Rieve (they/them, props designer); Kristen Brinatti (she/her, costume designer); Melanie Saso (she/her, asst. hair, wig and makeup designer); Levi K. Wilkins (he/him, lighting designer); Forrest Gregor (he/him, sound designer) and Andersonville Scenic Studios (scene shop).


Christopher Pazdernik returns to Music Theater Works after making his debut with 2023’s Avenue Q. Pazdernik is best-known for his work as artistic director of Refuge Theatre Project (Jeff Awards, Best Director and Best Production of a Musical, High Fidelity); a long association with Porchlight Music Theatre--including directing eight Porchlight Revisits productions; three years of directing Who's Holiday at Theater Wit and his current role as producing director at Theo. Also an openly HIV+ artist, Pazdernik is the creator and producer of the benefit concert “Belting for Life” and co-captain of Team Option Up! for AIDS Run/Walk Chicago.


Keely Vasquez is an actor, singer, teacher and voiceover artist.  Recent acting credits include: Dear Evan Hansen (First National tour), Spamalot (Mercury Theater Chicago) and Next to Normal (Writers Theatre). Other Chicago theatrical credits include shows at Porchlight Music Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre and The Broadway Playhouse. She has served as casting associate for Mercury Theater Chicago since 2021. For nearly a decade, she toured the world singing with Barry Manilow. 


Dr. Michael McBride is a Jeff Award-winning music director, internationally-performed composer, performer and educator. He is excited to return to Music Theatre Works after music directing Lerner & Loewe’s Brigadoon and Billy Elliot. Credits include Big Fish (Boho Theatre, Jeff Award); Revolution(s) (Goodman Theatre); Grease (Drury Lane Theatre); The Scarlet Pimpernel (Engeman Theatre, NY); Rent, New Faces Sing 1951, PorchlightPalooza, Broadway by the Decade (Porchlight Music Theatre); Passing Strange (Theo Ubique); 49th Annual Jeff Awards Ceremony; Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Robber Bridegroom, Jesus Christ Superstar, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Pippin,What a Wonderful World (workshop), Man of La Mancha, Mamma Mia, Into The Woods, The Little Mermaid (Timber Lake Playhouse); The Boys and the Nuns (composer & MD), Fun Home, Violet, Cabaret, Tintypes, She Loves Me, Spring Awakening, Hot Mikado, Urinetown, Into the Woods (Loyola University Chicago); The Christmas Foundling (composer and music director; Pride Arts Center); Footloose (Wallace Bowl); The Drake Hotel holiday programming and The Cabaret Project in Chicago, St. Louis and Lake Geneva. He is proud to be music director at A Church 4 Me MCC in Chicago. Having earned a DM in composition from Northwestern University, He has served on faculty of Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago and North Park University where he is a visiting assistant professor.


Subscriptions are now available at for its 44th season including 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, March 7 – 31, 2024, followed by Carousel, August 8 – August 18, 2024, Little Shop of Horrors, October 24 – November 17, 2024 and concludes with Legally Blonde: The Musical, December 19 – 29, 2024. All performances are at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd. Single tickets go on sale for the 2024 Season Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 12 p.m. 


Music Theater Works is a resident professional not-for-profit music theater founded in 1980. During its 44-year history it has presented more than 150 productions and intimate presentations. Music Theater Works is a professional theater company whose mission is to present works for the musical stage including historic repertoire, revitalizing the Golden Age of Broadway and earlier works, celebrating the Great American Songbook and introducing modern classics. 

JOYCE SAXON is the 2024 Music Theater Works Season Sponsor.

Preview: Thursday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m. 

Opening Night Performance: Friday, March 8 at 7 p.m. 

Saturday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m. (Post Show Discussion: Behind the Scenes with Tom Shea)

Wednesday, March 13 at 2 p.m.

Friday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 16 at 2 p.m.

Saturday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. 

Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m. (Post Show Discussion: Behind the Scenes with Tom Shea)

Wednesday, March 20 at 2 p.m.

Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. (Adults Only) *

Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m.

Thursday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. (Adults Only) *

Sunday, March 31 at 2 p.m. 

Tickets: $39 to $106, tickets for guests 25 years old and younger are available for half-price.

Music Theater Works Box Office: (847) 673-6300


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

EXTENDED AGAIN: Mary Zimmerman’s world-premiere of THE MATCHBOX MAGIC FLUTE at Goodman Theatre February 10 – March 24, 2024

ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List: Family Friendly Shows On Our Radar







 Recommended for audiences aged 8+

Goodman Theatre Manilow Resident Director Mary Zimmerman’s newest production, The Matchbox Magic Flute, has extended its run before performances begin. The Tony Award-winning director’s world-premiere-in-miniature adaptation of Mozart’s magical family-friendly opera features a 15-member company (10 actors and five musicians) and marks Zimmerman’s 18th production over a three-decade Goodman artistic affiliation. With dragons, a man who is a bird, trials by fire and water and more, Day and Night do battle in this playful and imaginative hero’s quest—following the adventures of Prince Tamino and Princess Pamina, and revealing that things are not always as they seem. Recommended for audiences aged 8+, The Matchbox Magic Flute appears February 10 – March 24th. Tickets ($25 - $90; subject to change) are available at or by phone at 312.443.3800. Goodman Theatre is grateful for the support of Mayer Brown, LLP (Corporate Sponsor), PAXXUS Inc. (Contributing Sponsor) and Russell Reynolds Associates (Contributing Sponsor).

Rehearsals for The Matchbox Magic Flute, Mary Zimmerman’s world-premiere-in-miniature adaptation of Mozart’s magical, family-friendly opera, are underway with a 21-member company of 16 actors and five musicians. Zimmerman celebrates three decades as Goodman Theatre’s Manilow Resident Director directing her theatrical adaptation of the beloved opera, where Prince Tamino (Billy Rude) embarks on a journey to rescue Princess Pamina (Marlene Fernandez)—the daughter of the Queen of the Night (Emily Rohm)—all with the help of a magical flute. Audiences aged 8+ will enjoy the fantastical characters coming to life in this hero’s quest, revealing that things are not always as they seem. A complete cast list appears below. The Matchbox Magic Flute appears February 10 – March 10 (opening night is Monday, February 19 at 7pm). Tickets ($25 - $90; subject to change) are available at or by phone at 312.443.3800. Goodman Theatre is grateful for the support of Mayer Brown, LLP (Corporate Sponsor), PAXXUS Inc. (Contributing Sponsor) and Russell Reynolds Associates (Contributing Sponsor).

“We’re making something that is a bit of old, and a bit of new,” said Mary Zimmerman, the Tony Award-winning adaptor/director whose first Goodman opera was Galileo Galilei with Philip Glass (2002), and who more recently directed Lucia de Lammermoor (Metropolitan Opera, La Scala) and Armida, la Sonnambula, Rusalka (Metropolitan Opera). “Our process relies on the playful, creative collaboration of everyone involved, and I know I will be inspired by this beautiful, eclectic cast of musical theater artists, opera singers and musicians from different genres. I’m extremely excited to get into the room with this bunch of people.”

Playful and imaginative, it’s big music in a small space. This “matchbox” presentation of The Matchbox Magic follows the adventures of Prince Tamino and Princess Pamina. With dragons, a man who is a bird, trials by fire and water and underground corridors, Day and Night do battle in Mary Zimmerman’s brand-new adaptation.

Full Company of The Matchbox Magic Flute (in alphabetical order)

Adapted and Directed by Mary Zimmerman

Marlene Fernandez…..Pamina

Keanon Kyles……Sarastro

Russell Mernagh…..Monostatos

Lauren Molina……Papagena/Lady

Tina Muñoz Pandya……Lady

Reese Parish…….The Spirit

Shawn Pfautsch…...Papageno

Emily Rohm…..Queen of the Night

Billy Rude….Tamino

Monica West…..Lady

Creative Team

Assistant Director….Nora Geffen

Music Adaptor and Arranger…Amanda Dehnert and Andre Pluess

Music Director….Amanda Dehnert

Sound Designer ….Andre Pluess

Associate Music Director/Conductor….Paul Mutzabaugh

Set Designer…..Todd Rosenthal

Costume Designer ……Ana Kuzmanic

Lighting Designer…..T.J. Gerckens

Wig & Hair Designer….Charles “Chuck” LaPointe

Understudies for this production include Dario Amador-Lage (Tamino), Ann Delaney (Papagena/Lady), Devin DeSantis (Papageno/Monostatos), Holly Hinchliffe (Pamina/Spirit), Nathan Karnik (Sarastro) and Emilie Lynn (Queen of the Night/Lady).

Casting is by Lauren Port, CSA. Patrick Fries is the Production Stage Manager and Beth Koehler is the Stage Manager.


Touch Tour* and Audio-Described Performance: Sunday, March 3, 12:30pm Touch Tour; 2pm performance – The action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset.

ASL-Interpreted Performance: Saturday, March 9 at 2pm – Professional ASL interpreter signs the action/text as played.

Spanish-Subtitled Performance: Saturday, March 9 at 7:30pm – An LED sign presents Spanish-translated dialogue in sync with the performance.

Open-Captioned Performance: Sunday, March 10 at 2pm – An LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance.

Visit Goodman for more information about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.


Tuesday, March 12 at 7:30pm

Wednesday, March 13 @ 7:30pm

Thursday, March 14 @ 2pm

Thursday, March 14 @ 7:30pm

Friday, March 15 @ 7:30pm

Saturday, March 16 @ 2pm and 7:30pm

Sunday, March 17 @ 2pm


Tuesday, March 19 @ 7:30pm
Wednesday, March 20 @ 7:30pm
Thursday, March 21 @ 2pm and 7:30pm
Friday, March 22 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, March 23 @ 2pm and 7:30pm
Sunday, March 24 @ 2pm


Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement. Led by Artistic Director Susan V. Booth and Executive Director/CEO Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades.

The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fifth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.

Using the tools of theatrical practice, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand and empathize with cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of these programs, which are offered for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.

Goodman Theatre was built on the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi Nations. We recognize that many other Nations consider the area we now call Chicago as their traditional homeland—including the Myaamia, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac and Fox, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Wea, Kickapoo and Mascouten—and remains home to many Native peoples today. While we believe that our city’s vast diversity should be reflected on the stages of its largest theater, we acknowledge that our efforts have largely overlooked the voices of our Native peoples. This omission has added to the isolation, erasure and harm that Indigenous communities have faced for hundreds of years. We have begun a more deliberate journey towards celebrating Native American stories and welcoming Indigenous communities.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation on the new Goodman center in 2000.

Julie Danis is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Lorrayne Weiss is Women’s Board President and Kelli Garcia is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

REVIEW of Paramount Theatre’s Striking Billy Elliot: The Musical Now Playing Through March 24, 2024

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Paramount Theatre's 
Billy Elliot: The Musical 
Michelle Aravena (right, with cigarette) plays Mrs. Wilkinson, a ballet teacher who sees unusual talent in a young British boy named Billy (Neo Del Corral, center). 
All production photos by Liz Lauren.

Inspired new production of the coming-of-age tale 

directed by Trent Stork

February 7-March 24, 2024


By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

Before miners or dancers ever step foot on the stage, the sheer magnitude of Paramount Theatre’s Billy Elliot set is sure to impress. With its towering iron scaffolding, towers and wheels, this gritty landscape provides the perfect backdrop for Paramount's blue collar Cinderella story. Billy Elliot comes from generations of overworked, underpaid English coal miners with few options. These hard headed brawlers are often the stereotype of toxic masculinity, but under those hard hats, there's fierce loyalty and community pride. When a year long strike creates financial woes, clashes with the police turn violent and neighbors are pitted against one another as some cross the picket line as scabs. 

Ron E. Rains (center, left) is Dad and Spencer Milford (right) is his son, Tony, leading coal miners on strike in a rural town in 1984 England in 
Billy Elliot: The Musical

In the midst of this stress and upheaval, young Billy Elliot, who has recently lost his mom, accidently discovers a passion for ballet. It's a hard sell to his family and friends, but his raw talent is recognized, and finally even the skeptics are willing to pitch in to help him follow his dreams, get trained, and rise above a dying town, where fossil fuel mining is going the way of the dinosaurs.  
Sam Duncan (aloft) plays Billy and Christopher Kelley is Older Billy in Billy Elliot: The Musical. Note: Sam shares the role of Billy with Neo Del Corral. 
Billy (Neo Del Corral, center) rehearses with his ballet teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson (Michelle Aravena, right) and Mr. Braithwaite, accompanist for Mrs. Wilkinson’s ballet class, (Dakota Hughes, left). 

Here at ChiIL Mama, we couldn't love Paramount's production more. The casting is world class, and the entire confluence of creativity in choreography, lighting, sound, costumes, and set design is superb. This cast just kills it, and there isn't a weak link in the bunch. By the closing number there were few dry eyes in the place, and a rousing standing ovation erupted without coaxing. 

Billy (Sam Duncan, right) and Michael (Gabriel Lafazan) perform “Expressing Yourself” in Billy Elliot: The MusicalNote: Sam shares the role with Neo Del Corral. 

ChiIL Tips: Come early and grab dinner in Aurora. Free street parking is easier to find if you're early and great restaurants are plentiful. We've tried at least 5 different places for pre-show food and drinks so far, and would happily return to any one of them.

As you leave Billy Elliot: The Musical, you may find yourself singing earworm "Solidarity" for days after, but this show's excellent message of inclusion, community, support, and transcending differences is one worth remembering. Paramount's Billy Elliot: The Musical is not just memorable but remarkable.  Don't miss this.  

★★★★ Four out of four stars. Highly Recommended. 

Bonnie is a Chicago based writer, theatre critic, photographer, artist, and Mama to 2 amazing adults. She owns two websites where she publishes frequently: (adult) & (family friendly). 

Combating prejudice with dance: Paramount Theatre 
rings in the new year with 
Billy Elliot: The Musical

Sam Duncan (center, back to camera) plays the title role in Billy Elliot: The MusicalNote: Sam shares the role with Neo Del Corral. 

February 7-March 24, 2024

Do what you love no matter what other people think. That’s the message that leaps from the stage in Billy Elliot: The Musical, originally nominated for 15 Tony Awards and a winner of ten, including Best Musical. 

Meet Billy Elliot, an 11-year-old English boy who stumbles upon a ballet class during his weekly boxing lesson. His surprise love for dance must be hidden at all costs, especially from his coal miner father. With help from his sharp-tongued teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, Billy gets the chance to attend a prestigious ballet school and must decide what is most important: doing what he loves or doing what other people want. 

Paramount Theatre rings in 2024 with an inspired new production of this popular coming-of-age tale, set to the music of Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, directed by Trent Stork. Performances are February 7-March 24, 2024. 

Trent Stork

Director Trent Stork, Paramount’s Artistic Producer and Casting Director, won their first Jeff Award, Director-Musical-Large, in 2022 for Paramount’s Kinky Boots. Stork also helmed Paramount’s current holiday season blockbuster, the Chicago Regional Premiere of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, along with last season’s School of Rock, and Into the Woods with co-director Jim Corti. 

Stork has assembled another stellar design and production team, on point to create a dazzling night of theater: Isaiah Silvia-Chandley, choreographer; Kory Danielson, music director, conductor and music supervisor; Michelle Lilly, scenic designer; Izumi Inaba, costume designer and wig, hair and makeup designer; Greg Hofmann, lighting designer; Adam Rosenthal, sound designer; Mike Tutaj, projection designer; Jesse Gaffney, properties designer; Ethan Deppe, electronic music designer; Susan Gosdick, dialect coach; John A. Tovar, fight director; Max Fabian, intimacy director; Devon Hayakawa, dramaturg; Amanda Raquel Martinez, associate director; Alex Mitchell, associate choreographer; Cameron Tragesser, associate music director and associate conductor; Jinni Pike, stage manager; Maegan Burnell and Lanita VanderSchaaf, assistant stage managers; and Bailey O’Neil and Madeline Scott, young performer supervisors.

Neo Del Corral performs the title role in Billy Elliot: The Musical

Billy Elliot: The Musical, based on the 2000 film, features music by Elton John. Book and lyrics are by Lee Hall, who also wrote the film's screenplay, inspired in part by A. J. Cronin's 1935 novel about a miners' strike in North East England, “The Stars Look Down.” The musical premiered at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London's West End in 2005 and was nominated for nine Laurence Olivier Awards, winning four, including Best New Musical. The production ran through April 2016. Its success led to productions in Australia, Broadway, and numerous other countries. In New York, it won ten Tony Awards and ten Drama Desk Awards, including, in each case, Best Musical. It was originally directed by Stephen Daldry. Orchestrations are by Martin Koch.

Sam Duncan (left) plays Billy and Christopher Kelley is Older Billy

Times, dates and ticket information

Previews start Wednesday, February 7, 2024 at 7 p.m. Opening Night is Friday, February 16 at 8 p.m. Performances run through March 24: 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. Run time is approximately 2 hours 30 minutes with intermission.

Paramount Theatre is located at 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. 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., and until show time on show days. For group discounts, contact Melissa Striedl, or (630) 723-2461. 

Pay What You Can Performances

Paramount will offer two Pay What You Can performances of Billy Elliot: Thursday, February 8 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, February 10 at 3 p.m. Both days, starting at 10 a.m., visit the Paramount box office in-person to request tickets. Limit four per person. Subject to availability. See for details. 

Access Services

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.

Paramount will offer open captioning on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m., and American Sign Language interpretation on Friday, March 22 at 8 p.m.

If you require wheelchair or special seating or other assistance, please contact the box office at (630) 896-6666 or in advance.


Billy Elliot: The Musical is sponsored by Clear Perspective Advisors. Paramount Theatre Broadway Season sponsors are the Dunham Foundation, the City of Aurora, BMO, ComEd and the Illinois Arts Council. 

Paramount Theatre is located at 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. Single tickets are $28-$79. For tickets and information, visit or call (630) 896-6666. For the latest updates, follow @paramountaurora on Facebook and Instagram, and Paramount Theatre on LinkedIn. 

Michelle Aravena (center) plays Mrs. Wilkinson, a ballet teacher who sees unusual talent in a young boy named Billy, (Sam Duncan, right) in Billy Elliot: The MusicalNote: Sam shares the role of Billy with Neo Del Corral. 

I'll always hold a soft spot for Billy Elliott, since it was the first Broadway touring production I ever reviewed reviewed for, back in 2010. My family was invited behind the scenes, to meet the four boys playing Billy on the national tour, and I got to bring my children to their first Broadway musical, at the ripe old ages of 7 and 9. I've been reviewing theatre ever since and couldn't love it more. 

      My daughter Sage, Daniel, my son Dugan, and Billy Elliot -- AKA:  J.P. Viernes

Speaking of coming of age stories... Fourteen years later, these littles are now 20-22 year olds and my son has a theatre degree from Northwestern University! You never know how early exposure to theatre arts will grow. 

Places please: 

Behind the scenes of Paramount’s Billy Elliot: The Musical 

Performing the title role requires a “triple-threat” young performer who can act, sing and is a highly-trained ballet dancer. Paramount has found their Billy, two of them in fact, Neo Del Corral and Sam Duncan, who will alternate in the role. 

Paramount's Billy Elliot: The Musical will feature “triple-threat” actors/singers/dancers Neo Del Corral (left) and Sam Duncan alternating in the role of Billy.

Jennie Sophia (right, standing) plays Billy’s late Mum, Michelle Aravena(center) is Billy’s ballet teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, and Neo Del Corral (left) plays Billy. 

Neo Del Corral performs the title role in Billy Elliot: The Musical

Jennie Sophia (left) plays Billy’s Mum, and Neo Del Corral plays Billy in Billy Elliot: The Musical. Note: Neo shares the role with Sam Duncan.

Del Corral, a veteran dancer at Miami City Ballet, has played Billy in productions in Florida and California. Duncan, from Connecticut, making his Billy debut, has many credits including John in Fun Home, the young prince in Public Theatre’s Richard III, plus TV appearances on Saturday Night Live and What We Do in the Shadows.

Sam Duncan (center, back to camera) plays the title role in Billy Elliot: The MusicalNote: Sam shares the role with Neo Del Corral. 

Sam Duncan (aloft) plays Billy and Christopher Kelley is Older Billy

Sam Duncan (center) plays Billy 

Sam Duncan (right) plays Billy and Ron E. Rains is Dad

Billy (Sam Duncan, right) spins Michael (Gabriel Lafazan) upside down in 
“Expressing Yourself” 

Principal cast members include (top, from left) Michelle Aravena (Mrs. Wilkinson), Ron E. Rains (Dad), (bottom) Barbara Robertson (Grandma) and Spencer Milford (Tony).

Michelle Aravena (center) plays Mrs. Wilkinson, a ballet teacher who sees unusual talent in a boy named Billy in Billy Elliot: The Musicalplaying now through March 24 at Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora. Photo credit: Liz Lauren

Youth performers are Gabriel Lafazan (Michael), Omi Lichtenstein and Elin Joy Seiler (rotating as Debbie), Charlie Long and Archer Geye (rotating as Tall Boy/Posh Boy), Levi Merlo and Eli Vander Griend (rotating as Small Boy), Ava Barabasz and Nina Poulimas (rotating as Angela Robson), Maya Keane and Meena Sood (rotating as Julie Hope), Avelyn Choi and Asha Dale Hopman (rotating as Keeley Gibson), Jojo Nabwangu and Willa Zatzenbloom (rotating as Margaret Gormley), Annabel Finch and Katie Romanski (rotating as Sharon Percy), Alexandria Rose Bell and Kavia Suri Kakodkar (rotating as Susan Parks), and Jordyn Helvie and Piper Sobel (rotating as Tracey Atkinson).

The ensemble (at press time) features Brian Bandura, Lydia Burke, Joe Foust, Neil Friedman, Nathan Gallop, Jared David Michael Grant, Dakota Hughes, Brian Hupp, Conor Jordan, Christopher Kelley, Chris Khoshaba, Kevin Kuska, Michael Earvin Martin, Matt Miles, Liz Pazik, Concetta Russo, Jennie Sophia and Matthew Weidenbener. 

It’s 1984 in rural England, and coal miners are on strike in Billy Elliot: The Musical
playing now through March 24 at Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora.