Jim Corti, a Chicago and Broadway actor who has also directed and choreographed in the Windy City, has been named artistic director of the Paramount Theatre. This is the first time that title has been used in association with the 80-year-old former movie palace in Aurora, IL.
The Paramount Theatre and Aurora Civic Center Authority announced the appointment of Corti on Jan. 19. The initiative is not-for-profit.
"The Paramount is joining the ranks of Chicago's top Equity producing houses with the launch of its own four-play Broadway Subscription Series," according to the organizers. "Starting in September, the Paramount will begin self-producing and presenting its own Broadway subscription series of four popular musicals — each directed, designed and starring Chicago's top professional theatre artist."
A subscription begins at $89 for all four shows (the rate is "extended to the first 10,000 subscribers"). The 2011-12 subscription titles will be revealed in March 18.
In addition to producing three-week runs of each subscription show, the Paramount will continue "filling its schedule with one of the widest arrays of short-run musical acts, comedy, dance, holiday shows, movies and family presentations in the Chicagoland area." Tim Rater, Paramount's executive director, said in a statement, "We wouldn't be doing this without Jim. I needed to know we could pull off the quality of production needed if we were to produce our own shows. Presenting touring productions wasn't working. The ticket prices needed to cover the cost of those tours are outrageous, and many of the most appealing tours will only play in downtown Chicago. By shifting to in-house productions, we take control. We can now choose the shows our patrons want to see. They can now see them when they want to. And we will do bigger and better productions than ever before. Our goal is to craft a unique experience that the audience can get only at the Paramount Theatre."
The Paramount Theatre is at 23 E. Galena Boulevard in downtown Aurora, which is the second most populous city in Illinois.
A "Big Reveal" party, to unveil the titles, is scheduled for 7 PM March 18 at the theatre. Guests "will enjoy complimentary appetizers, cocktails, special guest appearances and spectacular entertainment." The Big Reveal Party is free, but tickets are required and seating is limited. Call the Paramount box office, (630) 896-6666 to reserve.
Jim Corti is the only person to win a Chicago Jeff Award for directing (Sweet Charity & Blues in the Night), choreographing (Singin' in the Rain) and acting (Grand Hotel). Corti was the only director to have two productions — Cabaret at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace and O Coward! at Writer's Theatre in Glencoe — named to the Chicago Tribune's “Top 10 list of 2009.” He is a director and choreographer at major Chicago theatres including The Goodman, Steppenwolf , The Second City, Northlight and The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Corti's credits as a Broadway actor and dancer include Ragtime, A Chorus Line and Candide as well as the national tours of Urinetown, Cabaret and Bob Fosse's Dancin'.
Corti's current projects include directing Aida this spring at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace and choreographing American Theater Company's upcoming production of Grease, and then "transitioning to concentrating full-time on overseeing the Paramount Theatre's new Broadway Subscription Series."
The Paramount Theatre opened on Sept. 3, 1931. Designed by nationally renowned theater architects C.W. and George L. Rapp, the theatre captures a unique Venetian setting portrayed in the art deco influence of the 1930s. The first air-conditioned building outside of Chicago, the Paramount offered the public a variety of entertainment, including talking pictures, vaudeville, concerts and circus performances for more than 40 years.
In 1976, Aurora Civic Center Authority purchased the Paramount and closed the theatre for restoration. The $1.5 million project restored the Paramount to its original grandeur. On April 29, 1978, the Paramount Arts Center opened, offering a variety of theatrical, musical, comedy, dance and family programming.
In 2006, a 12,000-square-foot lobby was added. The Grand Gallery houses a modern box office, a cafe, a gift shop and an art gallery.
For more information, visit the Paramount Theatre online at www.paramountaurora.com.