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The Hills are Alive with ‘The Sound of Music’ at Paramount Theatre in Aurora

By: Nicole Majewski
Originally published on November 25, 2022

Paramount Theatre offers professional theater productions for all types of audiences and is located in downtown Aurora. It definitely rivals theaters in the city in terms of sets, actors, and the overall experience.

The Sound of Music, playing now through January 14, 2023 at Aurora’s Paramount Theatre, is the perfect experience gift this holiday season! The Paramount Theatre in Aurora brought the holiday season to life with the decorations in the lobby and theater. The Rogers and Hammerstein classic, The Sound of Music, has been dazzling audiences, both young and old, for over 50 years with a timeless story and epic score.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre; photo credit Liz Lauren

The Sound of Music at Aurora’s Paramount Theater Full Review

The Sound of Music is the story of a nun-in-training sent to nanny the seven children of a navy captain. Through music and melody, Maria falls in love with both the children and the captain. The play is set in the 1930s in Austria as World War II is starting, and the family must decide what to do as their home country becomes invaded.

The songs throughout the play kept my daughter and I fully entranced with the theater’s 16-piece orchestra. The music includes Rodgers and Hammerstein classics such as “Edelweiss,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” “Climb E’vry Mountain,” “So, Long, Farewell,” and, of course, “The Sound of Music.” 

The lead actress was phenomenal and I truly believe we will continue to see her name in lights. There were many child actors who blew us away with their portrayals of the characters, as well. It brought another element of fun for my daughter watching such talented youth on that stage. We just loved the play and would recommend it to everyone!

Recommended Ages

Paramount Theatre’s The Sound of Music is suggested for ages five and up due to some discriminatory language, depiction of Nazis, and images of swastikas. Myself and my eight-year-old daughter loved the actors, music, orchestra, and storyline. In my opinion, the show was appropriate for children over five, as the depiction of the that era gave me an opportunity for a discussion with my child about the war that was happening in that time.

About Paramount Theatre

Paramount Theatre is a beautiful space, designed with Venetian decor with a 1930’s Art Deco influence and it first opened on September 3, 1931. In 1976, the Aurora Civic Center Authority (ACCA) restored the Paramount to its original grandeur. The 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.

For tickets and information, visit paramountaurora.com, or call (630) 896-6666. Opening night was Friday, November 18, 2022 and performances run through January 14, 2023. Single tickets range from $28 to $79. The theater is decked out for the holidays with a giant Christmas tree in the lobby and banisters filled with garland. The historical theatre made the experience feel extra fancy for the holidays.

Parking for Paramount Theatre

The Paramount Theatre offers valet parking ranging from $13 to $20. The lineup for the valet is located on Stolp Ave. Local parking is available for a fee at the municipal garage located on the corner of Stolp Avenue and Downer Place. If you park in this lot, you may encounter a city employee at the entrance offering parking for a special flat rate of $3 cash if you pay in advance. This is a normal practice by the city. If you don’t have cash or want to pay after the show, the rate is free for the first hour, $2 for the second hour and $1 each hour after that. There is also a free lot on River St, but it is first come, first serve.

Tips for Your Visit

Located on the first floor lobby, the concessions had many available and affordable options for drinks and small snacks. The drinks ranged from hot chocolate, juices, fountain drinks, and alcoholic beverages. All cups came with lids and had straws available. There were a few light snack options available for purchase, such as candy and cookies. Both beverages and snacks were allowed into the auditorium and each seat was fitted with a cup holder.

There was a small gift shop just outside the auditorium with t-shirts, key chains, and a few small items for purchase.

If you are heading to the theatre with a smaller child, there are booster seats available from the ushers, free of charge. I didn’t think my eight year old would need one, but we ended up getting one just in case. She ended up using it and loved the view!

The main washrooms are located on the first floor lobby to the left of the concession stand. There was also a sign for an “everyone” bathroom with three stalls in the basement level. This would be very helpful for families with children, and it’s so nice that venues are making these accessible washrooms.

2021 Review of Cinderella

We were invited to opening night of the musical Cinderella at Paramount Theatre and were excited to get back to the theater! We haven’t gone for two years and it felt so good. The performance was a little over two hours with colorful, extravagant costumes, dancing, and music.

When you think Cinderella, usually Disney comes to mind. However, this is the Rodgers + Hammerstein version and more similar to the 1997 live action Cinderella movie with Whitney Houston and Brandy. Admittedly I’ve never seen that movie, but audience members were talking about the comparison and I thought it was worth mentioning. It pokes fun at the original story, like why would anyone want to dance in glass slippers? Adults will enjoy those entertaining nuances sprinkled in and there is plenty of grandeur, lights, songs, and characters for all ages.

Cinderella is not portrayed as a helpless, lovestruck girl and deals with her situation with grace. In fact, her fairy godmother doesn’t just wave her wand to make everything better; she empowers Cinderella to take charge of find transportation and a dress for the ball. Only when Cinderella is resolved to make it happen for herself does her fairy godmother magically make the carriage appear with smoke and lights. If you haven’t seen dress changes on the fly, you’ll also be impressed with how a few spins can change Cinderella’s work attire into a beautiful ball gown!

photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre, credit: Liz Lauren

Her step mother and step sisters provide comic relief with their over-the-top ideas, songs, and expressions. There are also cute puppet mice that appear periodically and are a fun addition. Prince Charming’s voice is wonderful and strong. I especially enjoyed the song he sang while contemplating his feelings for Cinderella with verses like, “Do I love her because she’s beautiful, or is she beautiful because I love her?” Paramount Theatre boasts a 15-piece orchestra and the live music makes it even more special.

Age Recommendations

Cinderella is suggested for ages 5 years old and up. Children 2 and under not permitted in the theater. There were a couple adorable little girls in the audience dressed like Cinderella, so if yours want to get in the spirit, go for it!

Performance Dates

Cinderella runs now through January 9, 2022 with matinee and evening options. Click here for performance dates and times.

photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre, credit: Liz Lauren

2019 Review of Beauty and the Beast

This review originally published on November 24, 2019.

We were invited to the opening performance of Beauty and the Beast and were excited to make it a girls night. The Paramount Theatre has such high quality performances, talent, and sets and this time was no exception!

We went to a Friday night 8pm performance, so with a 2 1/2 hour run time (including a 15 minute intermission) and full day of school behind her my nine year old daughter was pretty tired, but she didn’t want to miss even a minute of this show! The live orchestra music, dazzling costumes, elaborate set designs, and attention to detail makes Beauty and the Beast spectacular.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre, Photo credit: Liz Lauren

We enjoyed the classics, such as Be Our Guest, and the actors added a lot of personality to the performance.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre, Photo credit: Liz Lauren

Mrs. Potts was endearing, Chip scooted around on a serving cart, and Lumiere was hilarious with his lit candlesticks. Gaston was over-the-top arrogant! Seeing the scenes between Gaston and Belle acted out in live theater was cringe-worthy as Gaston forced himself upon Belle and even kissed her, which felt over the top. Just like in the movie, his true colors showed through in that moment.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre, Photo credit: Liz Lauren

Each of the characters’ voices were strong and breathtaking! What an amazing group of talent.

The elaborate sets changed seamlessly, as did the Beast’s costume changes when he transforms into the beast at the beginning and back to a man towards the end. Beth Stafford Laird plays Belle beautifully and really captures all of her emotions!

Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre, Photo credit: Liz Lauren

Age Recommendations

We felt Beauty and the Beast was best suited for children 7 years old and up due to the scary moments, themes, and show length.

There are a few scary parts that we wanted to give a heads up on for younger theater-goers. There are scenes in the woods where wolves with glowing eyes attack the characters. It’s done in a lyrical dance so it’s not violent, but could be scary for little ones. The Beast roars when he is angry, but we felt it was mild.

Performance Dates

Beauty and the Beast runs now through January 19, 2020. In general, the performance times are as follows, but please see the exceptions and note below.

  • 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: There won’t be performances on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Added shows on Friday, November 29 at 3 p.m. and Tuesday, December 17 at 7 p.m. Added matinees on 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. 

Click on the calendar at this link (it might be easier).

Tickets for Beauty and the Beast

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. 

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 the Beast will 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.

2018 Review of Wizard of Oz

This review originally published on November 21, 2018.

Wow. The Paramount Theatre in Aurora never disappoints! We had the pleasure of being invited to see The Wizard of Oz at Paramount this past weekend and loved everything about the performance. The actors’ voices were unbelievable, the sets were dynamic, and Toto was adorable. The play was everything the movie was and more! The staff at Paramount adds to the experience as well because they are so friendly and accommodating. The woman showing us to our seats immediately offered a booster seat for my daughter, which gave her a perfect view of the stage.

To tackle making a play out of such a classic movie is difficult I’m sure, but we felt this one nailed it. The colors start out muted, similar to the black and white portion of the movie and then the color explodes when Dorothy and Toto appear in Munchkin Land. The script and songs were very much like the movie, with some extra jokes and expression changes. They had the audience laughing and getting into the performance right from the beginning.

The casting was on point and we often forgot that we weren’t watching Judy Garland! Elizabeth Stenholt’s voice is amazing and we fell in love with her playing the part of Dorothy. The other characters’ voices were equally as strong and they were a joy to watch. Toto was played by a real dog named Nessa, who was adorable and on cue every time. It was impressive and added a lot to the show.

(from left) Paul-Jordan Jansen plays Cowardly Lion, Carl Draper is Tinman, Elizabeth Stenholt plays Dorothy, Kyle Adams is Scarecrow and that’s Nessa as Toto in Paramount Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz. Performances are November 14, 2018-January 6, 2019 at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., in downtown Aurora. Tickets: paramountaurora.com or (630) 896-6666. Photo credit: Liz Lauren

Show Length and Age Recommendations

The Wizard of Oz is 2 hours and 25 minutes with one intermission. It is recommended for ages 5 and up because of some scary moments, including a tornado which creates tension and the wicked witch.

The Wizard of Oz Performance Dates

The Wizard of Oz is at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora from now until January 6, 2019.

Show times (we would recommend the earlier performances if you are bringing kids because the show is 2 hours and 25 minutes with one intermission):

  • Wednesday at 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm
  • Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Exceptions: No show Thursday, November 22 (Thanksgiving Day). No show Sunday, December 23, at 5:30 p.m. There is one added Tuesday evening performance on Tuesday, November 27, at 7 p.m.

Added family matinees are Friday, December 21, at 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, December 27, at 1:30 p.m.; and Thursday, January 3, at 1 p.m.

Evening show times Wednesday and Thursday, January 2 and 3, are at 6 p.m., one hour early. Matinee show times Wednesday and Thursday, January 2 and 3 are at 1 p.m., 30 minutes early.

Tickets for The Wizard of Oz

Single tickets to The Wizard of Oz are $36 to $69. 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.

(from left) Caron Buinis plays the Wicked Witch of the West, Harriet Nzinga Plumpp is Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and Elizabeth Stenholt plays Dorothy in Paramount Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz. Performances are November 14, 2018-January 6, 2019 at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., in downtown Aurora. Tickets: paramountaurora.com or (630) 896-6666. Photo credit: Liz Lauren

The Wizard of Oz: Kid’s Perspective

Introducing a new section of reviews called The Kids’ Perspective. This is where my kids weigh in on their experiences so you can see their point of view and hopefully get some insight as to if your kids would enjoy it or not!

Hi everybody, I am Annie’s eight year old daughter and I went to see The Wizard of Oz. I am going to tell you why I liked the show, and how I felt during the show. I felt amazed to see how big the theater was; it was fancy with designs. The people that worked at the theater gave me a booster seat so I could see the stage and watch the characters walk across the stage.

I liked the show because the characters spoke clearly and I could hear everything they are saying and singing.  The characters were also dressed up realistically and it was like I was in the movie watching it all. My favorite character was Toto the dog. I liked him because he was cute and so well behaved. I couldn’t believe he was real!

I think ages six and up would really enjoy the show. They gave me a activity booklet with a word search and other fun activities inside. Before I went, I heard the length of the show was two and a half hours and I thought I was going to be bored, but it flew by so quickly because I loved it!

You did not need to see the movie. It was not too loud but it had some flashing lights. When the characters went by the aisles it was cool you could see them so well. When I left the theater I felt satisfied and happy I went. I would like to go again!

(from left) Elizabeth Stenholt plays Dorothy and Kyle Adams is Scarecrow in Paramount Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz. Anthony Sullivan Jr., Peter Sipla and J Tyler Whitmer play the Crows with puppets created by Jesse Mooney-Bullock. Performances are November 14, 2018-January 6, 2019 at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., in downtown Aurora. Tickets: paramountaurora.com or (630) 896-6666. Photo credit: Liz Lauren

Special Event: Page to Stage on December 8, 2018

Have you read the classic novel that inspired The Wizard of Oz? Watch the book come to life with Paramount Theatre’s “Page to Stage” series of free educational events in partnership with Santori and Messenger Public Libraries on Saturday, December 8.

Characters and words will jump off the page as students read part of L. Frank Baum’s original novel, written right here in Chicago in 1900. Then, children will learn how Paramount Theatre translates literature into an onstage, larger-than-life live stage production. Everyone gets a chance to learn a song, make a puppet inspired by Paramount’s new production of The Wizard of Oz and perform for their families.

Show your kids what fun it can be when art and literature collide. Paramount’s “Page to Stage” library tour starts Saturday morning, December 8, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., at Santori Aurora Public Library, 101 S. River St., Aurora. Space is limited. Free tickets will be given at the reference desk in the Kiwanis Children’s Center to the first 25 students.

The afternoon “Page to Stage” event is from is 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. at Messenger Public Library of North Aurora, 113 Oak St. Space is limited to the first 25 students. Register online for free tickets starting November 26 at messengerpl.org.

2017 Review of Elf The Musical

This review originally published on December 4, 2017.

In Elf The Musical at Paramount Theatre in Aurora, the actors deliver their humorous lines flawlessly and their singing voices are amazing. We had never been to the Paramount Theatre. The building is beautiful and the staff is so kind!

The lights in downtown Aurora added to the experience as we walked across the bridge on the way to the theater.

Inside, there was excitement in the air while guests took photos in front of the tree and bought drinks and treats to enjoy during the performance. When we entered the theater, the ushers offered my daughter a booster seat that they said she could either sit on to see better or use as a footrest, which was so nice!

They have a great selection of wine, beer, fountain drinks, and snacks, including candy, cheese filled pretzel breadsticks, and gourmet cookies. We pretty much tried everything and can vouch that it’s delicious!

We were so impressed by the sets. The switches between Christmastown, New York City, and the Dobbs’ condo were seamless. Actors even ice skate on stage in Rockefeller Center. Wow! I’ve never seen anything like that on stage.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre, Photo credit: Liz Lauren

There are also other surprises, especially towards the end, but I’m not going to ruin it for you! Our daughter’s reaction was so sweet and memorable. And during the performance we attended, a small child even answered Santa when he asked a rhetorical question by saying “I believe in you”. What a heart warming moment. That just illustrates how engaging the performance is and convincing the characters are!

Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre, Photo credit: Liz Lauren

Not only was Elf The Musical touching, but it was also hilarious. There were classic lines from the movie that we enjoyed again. The performance is rated PG for “sophomoric humor, mild language, and adult innuendos.” We weren’t thrilled with how many times they said “hell” and “damn”, but I tend to be more sensitive about language, so you have to use your own judgement. Overall, we found it to be a great performance that we could enjoy along with our kids (7+ years old and up).

Elf The Musical runs now through January 7, 2018 and is 2 1/2 hours with one intermission. Click here for more info and to buy tickets from the Paramount Theatre website. You can buy discounted tickets on the Kidlist half-price tickets page! Click here to find half-price tickets on many performances, including Elf The Musical.

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