he ascendant Paramount Theatre in Aurora now plans to muscle in on the big Chicago business of new, pre-Broadway musicals. In 2019, the nonprofit theater west of Chicago will join with the Signature Theatre outside Washington, D.C., to stage the world premiere of “August Rush," a new musical based on the 2007 movie that starred Robin Williams and told the story of musically gifted orphan who runs away to New York City to look for his parents.
The show, slated to open in April 2019 in Aurora, will be directed by John Doyle, a British director who has become one of Broadway's most prominent names. The Signature — a prestigious but much smaller theater in suburban Washington — will produce the show first, in an intimate, workshop-style production in February of next year. "August Rush," which has a story seemingly well-suited for a stage-musical treatment, then will be redesigned and restaged for the 1,888-seat proscenium theater that is the historic Paramount and readied for an intended Broadway berth, presumably for fall 2019.
The show is composed by Mark Mancini, who also worked on the music for the film, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best song ("Raise It Up"). The book writer and Mancini's co-lyricist is Glen Berger, best known for his work on "Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark," a famous 2010 Broadway disaster about which Berger later wrote a tell-all book.
"We hope 'August Rush' is the first of many pre-Broadway musicals for us," said Tim Rater, Paramount's president and CEO, emphasizing that new musicals are a key part of the theater's strategy. Long in development, the stage musical was first announced in 2013 by producers Southpaw Entertainment and CJ E&M. Doyle has been attached since then.
According to Rater, the actors in the show will play their own instruments, a style similar to past Doyle projects, including his Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Company."
"August Rush" will be the last show in Paramount's 2018-19 season, a slate that also includes "Legally Blonde" (Sept. 5-Oct. 21) directed by Trent Stork, "The Wizard of Oz" (Nov. 14-Jan. 6) directed by Amber Mak, and "The Producers" (Feb. 6-March 17, 2019), directed by Paramount artistic director Jim Corti. “August Rush” will play April 24-June 2, 2019. Subscriptions for the Paramount Theatre (23 E. Galena Blvd. in Aurora) are available at www.ParamountAurora.com.