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Another Stage of Life

PARAMOUNT THEATRE, 23 E. Galena Blvd. Aurora, IL 60506; Box Office: 630-896-6666 (Thomas King)

It’s hard not to catch the excitement of what’s going on at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora.

In just its second season of offering a Broadway Series — a compilation of four professionally produced musicals based on Broadway classics — the historical theater has seen a huge spike in subscribers, received a renewed audience appreciation for musical theater and created an intoxicating sense of impending greatness felt by directors and audience members alike.

Simply put, the theater is intentionally working its way toward becoming one of the biggest names in the industry.

“We believe we’re creating the best musical theater in Chicago,” says Tim Rater, president and chief executive officer of the Paramount.

From movie palace to Broadway In 1931, the Paramount Theatre opened as a nearly 2,000-seat palace showing first-run movies. For trivia lovers: it was the first movie palace outside of Chicago that had air conditioning, Rater says.

In the 1950s and ’60s, the theater fell into disarray, but a decade later its Venetian-style decor was restored and the Paramount reopened as a live performance venue. In 2006, it received a facelift with a new grand lobby and art gallery, but the theater itself — located on Stolp Island in downtown Aurora — retains its historic look and feel, from the massive sea of burgundy seats and ornate ceiling design inside to the grand marquee outside. In fact, the Paramount has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.

To read the full story, pick up the latest issue of Kane County Magazine.