ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar
Paramount Theatre's cast for School of Rock features (top, left) Nick Druzbanski (Dewey Finn), (row 2, from left) Julia Dale (Katie), Omi Lichtenstein (Summer Hathaway), David Mattle (Freddy Hamilton), Jaxon Mitchell (Billy Sanford), Kayla Norris (Tomika Spencer-Williams), Leighton Tantillo (Lawrence), (row 3) Julian Wanderer (Zack Mooneyham), Jackson Evans (Ned Schneebly), Veronica Garza (Rosalie Mullins), Lucy Godinez (Patti Di Marco), Mary Robin Roth (Ms. Sheinkopf), and 13 ensemble members: Alex Benoit, (row 4) Alley Ellis, Andrés Enriquez, Dakota Hughes, Greta Kleckner, Em Modaff, Timothy Michael Quinn, (row 5) Jason Richards, Andrew Sickel, Allison Sill, Ana Silva, Ryan Stajmiger and Christopher Wayland.
Paramount Theatre has announced its roster for School of Rock, the Chicago professional regional premiere of the good-time musical based on the hit Jack Black movie, featuring new music from the genius mind of Andrew Lloyd Webber, directed by Trent Stork. Performances are April 12-June 4. I'll be out for opening night, April 21st, so check back soon for my full review. For tickets and information, visit ParamountAurora.com, call (630) 896-6666.
Nick Druzbanski will play wannabe-rocker-Dewey Finn-turned-substitute teacher-Ned Schneebly. Druzbanski’s signature roles at Paramount to date include Franz in Rock of Ages, LeFou in Beauty and the Beast, and ensemble roles in Groundhog Day and Kinky Boots.
Nick Druzbanski (right) played LeFou in Paramount’s 2020 production of Beauty and the Beast, opposite Emmett O’Hanlon as Gaston. Photo by Liz Lauren
Nick Druzbanski played Franz and Michael Ehlers was Hertz in
Paramount’s Rock of Ages in 2022. Photo by Liz Lauren
Seven amazing lead young actor/singer/musicians have pledged allegiance to the band of Mr. Schneebly: Julia Dale (Katie), Omi Lichtenstein (Summer Hathaway), David Mattle (Freddy Hamilton), Jaxon Mitchell (Billy Sanford), Kayla Norris (Tomika Spencer-Williams), Leighton Tantillo (Lawrence) and Julian Wanderer (Zack Mooneyham). And yes, they will all play their own instruments live in the show.
Factor in four favorite Chicago actors in other adults roles: Jackson Evans (Ned Schneebly), Veronica Garza (Rosalie Mullins), Lucy Godinez (Patti Di Marco) and Mary Robin Roth (Ms. Sheinkopf), and 13 ensemble members: Alex Benoit, Alley Ellis, Andrés Enriquez, Dakota Hughes, Greta Kleckner, Em Modaff, Timothy Michael Quinn, Jason Richards, Andrew Sickel, Allison Sill, Ana Silva, Ryan Stajmiger and Christopher Wayland.
Young actors rotating on stage as schoolmates and roadies include (top, from left) Charlie Long and Savannah Lumar (AJ); Lily Martens and Roxy Salzman (Jamie), Gabriel Solis and Eli Vander Griend (Madison), (row 2) Maya Keane and Clare Wols (Marcy), Elias Totleben and Levi Merlo (Mason), Meena Sood and Genevieve Jane (Shonelle), and (row 3) Naya Rosalie James and Annabel Finch (Sophie).
Plus 14 more kids rotating on stage as schoolmates and roadies: Charlie Long and Savannah Lumar (AJ); Lily Martens and Roxy Salzman (Jamie), Gabriel Solis and Eli Vander Griend (Madison), Maya Keane and Clare Wols (Marcy), Elias Totleben and Levi Merlo (Mason), Meena Sood and Genevieve Jane (Shonelle), and Naya Rosalie James and Annabel Finch (Sophie).
And that’s a full 39-member cast for Paramount’s 11th Broadway Series finale, with a 7-member live band in the orchestra pit.
Enough math. Let’s rock!
Previews of School of Rock start April 12. Opening Night is Friday, April 21, at 8 p.m. Performances run through June 4: 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 Wednesday, April 12). Single tickets are $28 to $79.
Paramount Theatre is located at 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. For tickets and information, visit ParamountAurora.com, 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, firstname.lastname@example.org or (630) 723-2461.
For the latest updates, visit ParamountAurora.com or follow @ParamountAurora on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, @paramountarts on Tik Tok, and on LinkedIn.
Pay What You Can Performances
Paramount will offer two Pay What You Can performances of School of Rock: Thursday, April 13, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, April 15 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 paramountaurora.com/pay-what-you-can for details.
Paramount will offer open and closed captioning on Wednesday, May 24, at 7 p.m.
The performance on Friday, May 26, at 8 p.m. will be interpreted in American Sign Language.
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.
If you require wheelchair or special seating or other assistance, please contact the box office at (630) 896-6666 or email@example.com in advance.
Paramount’s School of Rock study guide
Wannabe rocker Dewey Finn has just been kicked out of his band. He can’t pay rent and his life is falling apart. When Dewey scams his way into a teaching job at a prestigious prep school meant for his roommate, he turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. Dewey’s love of music and rock soon inspires the kids to pursue what they love.
The 2003 hit movie School of Rock, credited for launching Jack Black’s career, was written by Mike White. White also played Dewey’s friend Ned Schneebly in the film, and more recently, created HBO’s The White Lotus.
The musical debuted on Broadway in 2015, was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran for 1,309 performances before closing in 2019. Andrew Lloyd Webber came on board to create new music for the musical version of School of Rock. Webber composed the scores of some of the world’s most famous musicals including The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Evita. Book is by Julian Fellowes and lyrics are by Glenn Slater.
Paramount’s School of Rock production team (at press time) is Trent Stork, director; Isaiah Silvia-Chandley, choreographer; Kory Danielson, music director, conductor and music supervisor; Michelle Lilly, scenic designer; Izumi Inaba, costume designer; Greg Hofmann, lighting designer; Adam Rosenthal, sound designer; Mike Tutaj, projection designer; Katie Cordts, wig, hair and makeup designer; Jesse Gaffney, properties designer; Ethan Deppe, electronic music designer; Max Fabian, intimacy director; Darren Patin, associate director; TJ Tapp, associate choreographer; Celia Villacres, associate music director and associate conductor; Cindy Moon, associate costume designer; Stark Winter, assistant lighting designer; Matthew Silar, stage manager; Lanita VanderSchaaf and Mary Zanger, assistant stage managers; and Bailey O’Neil and Katie Dreher, young performer supervisors.
Trent Stork, Paramount’s Associate Artistic Producer and Casting Director, won their first Jeff Award, Director-Musical-Large, for Paramount’s Kinky Boots in 2022. Stork’s Paramount directorial debut was in 2018 with Legally Blonde (Broadwayworld.com Award – Best Direction of a Musical.) Currently, Stork is busy co-directing Paramount’s Into the Woods with Artistic Director Jim Corti, running through March 19.
Paramount announces 2023-24 Broadway and BOLD Series
Light the marquee, roll out the red carpet and open the doors to the largest subscription theater in the nation, because downtown Aurora’s Paramount Theatre has announced four blockbuster musicals on tap for its 2023-24 Broadway Series: Little Shop of Horrors (August 30-October 15, 2023), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (November 8, 2023-January 14, 2024), Billy Elliot: The Musical (February 7-March 24, 2024), and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (April 24-June 16, 2024).
Just as it has since it launched its first Broadway Series in 2011, Paramount still offers the same “Buy Two Shows, Get Two Shows Free” offer, with Broadway subscriptions starting as low as $56. In fact, subscribers pay no more than $39.50 per show, and that’s the most expensive ticket. Fees not included.
In addition, Paramount will present three more fresh, fervent and emotionally intoxicating plays set in its second BOLD Series in 2023-2024 in Paramount’s sleek new Copley Theatre: the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal (July 26-September 3, 2023), the recent Off-Broadway sensation What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Shreck (October 4-November 12, 2023), and Tennessee Williams’s classic drama A Streetcar Named Desire (March 13-April 21, 2024). Three-show BOLD Series subscriptions start at $75.
To subscribe to either series, visit ParamountAurora.com, call
(630) 896-6666, or visit the Paramount box office, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and until show time on show days.
Paramount Theatre’s Covid-19 commitment to and safety and protocol
Paramount Theatre has followed, and will continue to follow, the requirements of the State of Illinois and the Kane County Health Department. Therefore, at press time, Paramount is following the guidance of the State of Illinois and recommends, but no longer requires masks, proof of vaccination or negative COVID test for patrons. Mask wearing is encouraged, but will be optional. For complete details, please read Paramount’s full Covid Policy.
Old Second Bank is the sponsor of School of Rock. Paramount Theatre Broadway Season sponsors include the Dunham Foundation, the City of Aurora, BMO Harris Bank, ComEd and the Illinois Arts Council. Paramount’s BOLD Series is sponsored by Old National Bank.
About Paramount Theatre
Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., is the center for performing arts in Aurora, the second largest city in Illinois. The beautiful, 1,843-seat theater, graced with a strong 1930s Art Deco influence and original Venetian décor, nationally known for its high-quality productions, superb acoustics and historic grandeur, has been downtown Aurora’s anchor attraction since 1931.
After launching its own Broadway Series in 2011, Paramount Theatre has rapidly grown to be the largest subscription house in the U.S. In 2022-23, more than 35,000 subscribers enjoyed Paramount’s critically acclaimed, Broadway-caliber productions, along with an array of internationally known comedians, musicians, dance troupes and family shows.
For over 50 years, the Joseph Jefferson Awards has recognized excellence in Chicago area theater. Last season, Paramount took home six Jeff Awards for Kinky Boots, including Best Musical-Large, Paramount’s fourth win in that category following Sweeney Todd (2017), West Side Story (2016) and Les Misérables (2015). Over the last 11 years, Paramount has been honored to earn 97 Jeff nominations and 27 wins.
Paramount Theatre is one of four live performance venues programmed and managed by the Aurora Civic Center Authority (ACCA). Paramount’s new “sister stage” is the newly renovated 165-seat Copley Theatre, home to Paramount’s new BOLD Series, across the street in the North Island Center. ACCA also oversees RiverEdge Park, the city’s 6,000-seat outdoor summer concert venue, Stolp Island Theatre, an immersive space opening in 2024, and the Paramount School of the Arts.