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Paramount Theatre, Aurora, IL - A Broadway Snob’s Review

 
Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois. Local community theater or Broadway caliber productions? Follow along as this former New York resident and professed Broadway snob takes in Broadway series shows at this theater, an hour outside of Chicago. #paramount #openwidetheworld
 

Intermission. The lights come up. I sit in awe. I swoon over the first act highlights with my family. We “oooh” at the impressive special effects, and we “ahhhh” about the amazing set changes. We are smitten. But then I realize the most surprising thing of all about our first show at the Paramount: that I am already researching tickets for the rest of their Broadway Series season! 

Why is that surprising?

Well, I am a bit of a theater snob, if I’m honest. It happened only accidentally as I gradually amassed Playbills from two dozen Broadway productions across three continents, in five countries, and seven major cities. 

That much high level play-going experience inadvertently lead me to expect a certain caliber of production. Anything that falls short leaves me frustrated and annoyed at having wasted my time and money. 

In the case of Paramount Theatre, I had been vaguely aware of positive chatter about the theater since moving to the community, which boded well. Even so, I had never heard Aurora, Illinois mentioned as an important theater city by anyone outside of the area. 

So when complimentary tickets to The Wizard of Oz passed my way as part of a work assignment, I had felt both intrigued and leery at the prospect of attending a show here.

My first step into the lobby was enough to tell me this wasn’t going to be the mere “community theater” I had feared. 

Designed in 1930 in a style combining Venetian elements and Art Deco influences, and painstakingly restored with rapt attention to historical detail in the 1970s, the building alone was worth the price of admission, I could see.

 
Paramount Theatre, Aurora, IL. Showcasing Venetian walll murals and Art Deco pillars, in addition to a fabulous Broadway Series!

Paramount Theatre, Aurora, IL. Showcasing Venetian walll murals and Art Deco pillars, in addition to a fabulous Broadway Series!

Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois. Local community theater or Broadway caliber productions? Follow along as this former New York resident and professed Broadway snob takes in Broadway series shows at this theater, an hour outside of Chicago. #paramount #openwidetheworld
 

Of course, the structure is just the beginning. The production itself is where the true magic happens, where the theater experience is made or broken. After attending four shows —and counting!— from Paramount’s Broadway Series (courtesy of a partial work sponsorship), I can wholeheartedly report that:

  • The acting and vocals are consistently NYC-caliber.

  • The choreography creates show-stopper after show-stopper.

  • The costumes and makeup are magnificent when called for, understated when appropriate.

  • The sets and scene changes rival even the most established Broadway cities’ feats!

  • I have been on my feet in a standing ovation of pure, exuberant awe for three of my four attendances.

The shows we have attended as part of Paramount Theatre’s Broadway Series

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Newsies, Sept 2019: The minute the curtain went down, our 11-year old asked to see it again!

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August Rush, Apr 2019: A bit different than our usual theater tastes, but still a very enjoyable evening.

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The Producers, Feb 2019: Loved it so much, I priced tickets to go again! Sang the soundtrack for weeks.

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The Wizard of Oz, Nov 2018: I never liked the movie. The Paramount made me love the play!

 

If you are hesitant, like I was, to give a “local” theater a try, you can rest assured on the experience of this theater snob: the only thing local about this theater is its location; Paramount Aurora will not disappoint!


A guide to Paramount Theatre, Aurora

Paramount Theatre is located at 23 E Galena Blvd, Aurora, Illinois 60506

 

Paramount Theatre Broadway Series tickets

Broadway Series tickets range in price from $38 to $74, depending on day, time and desired seat.

Ticket info, prices and purchases can be accessed directly on Paramount Theatre’s Broadway Series page.

A Broadway Series season subscription offers a 50% discount: four shows for the price of two.

Paramount Theatre Broadway Series showtimes

Paramount Theatre’s Broadway Series productions typically run for 6-8 weeks and play on:

  • Wednesday, 1:30pm & 7:00 pm

  • Thursday, 7:00pm

  • Friday, 8:00pm

  • Saturday, 3:00pm & 8:00pm

  • Sunday, 1:00pm & 5:30pm

  • No shows on Monday/Tuesday

Main lobby doors open one hour prior to showtime. Theater seating begins 30 minutes prior to showtime.

Where we eat before or after a Paramount show:

  • U Samba Cafe, 37 W New York St, Aurora

    • 4-minute walk to the Paramount

    • for Brazilian cocktails and appetizers

  • Gillerson’s Grubbery, 33 W New York St, Aurora

    • 4-minute walk to the theater

    • for burgers and beer

  • Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N Broadway, Aurora

    • 10-minute walk to the theater

    • for craft beer flights and tavern fare

  • Charlie’s Silver Spoon Creamery, 6 E Downer Pl, Aurora

    • 3-minute walk to the theater

    • for hand-crafted ice cream

  • Tredwell Coffee, 14 W Downer Pl #18, Aurora

    • 3-minute walk to the theater

    • for artisan coffee

 

Paramount Theatre parking

Valet parking, $11

  • Valet opens one hour prior to showtime.

  • Valet line is on Stolp Avenue, just around the corner from the front of the theater.

Parking garage, $3

  • A municipal garage is located two blocks south of the theater near the corner of Stolp Avenue and Downer Place.

    • Note: there may be a city employee at the entrance of this garage offering parking for a flat rate of $3 cash.

    • If you prefer to pay after the show, it is free for the first hour, $2 for the second hour and $1 each hour after that. Cash is accepted at the machine by the garage elevator. Credit card is accepted upon exiting the parking garage.

Street parking, free

  • 90 minute-limit (note: that is less than the duration of a play) during weekdays, 8am to 8pm, and Saturday, 8am to 2pm.

  • No time limit on Sundays.

  • There is also a free parking lot on River Street, just north of New York Street.

Area parking cautions

  • Fifth Third, PNC and Banco Popular tow non-customers parked in their lots.

  • The Hollywood Casino garage (corner of Galena Blvd & River St) has increased rates during showtimes, as well as long waits getting in and out.

Paramount Theatre coat check

  • FREE

  • located to the left of the Grand Gallery staircase


Bonus tip: come for the play, but don’t miss the cookies at intermission! Available for purchase at the Grand Gallery Bar. A favorite in our family!


Have you been to Paramount Theatre in Aurora?

Or perhaps been surprised by a theater experience in your area? Tell us about it in the comments!

 

Looking for more arts and culture in greater Chicago? Check out:

A great architecture walk in downtown Aurora (scroll the post for the archi tour)

Chicago’s 5 Best Museums You’ve Never Heard Of

Understanding Ancient Chinese Symbolism in a Modern Chinatown

Or how about some artisan, fair trade coffee in the area?

5 Best Direct Trade Coffee Shops in Chicago’s Far West Suburbs

Pin this post for your trip to Paramount Theatre!

Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois. Local community theater or Broadway caliber productions? Follow along as this former New York resident and professed Broadway snob takes in Broadway series shows at this theater, an hour outside of Chicago. #paramount #openwidetheworld
Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois. Local community theater or Broadway caliber productions? Follow along as this former New York resident and professed Broadway snob takes in Broadway series shows at this theater, an hour outside of Chicago. #paramount #openwidetheworld
 

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