Aurora's Paramount hires director of new works

  • Amber Mak was named director of new works for Paramount Theatre in Aurora.

    Amber Mak was named director of new works for Paramount Theatre in Aurora.

 
 
Updated 2/23/2016 4:41 PM

Aurora's Paramount Theatre announced Tuesday director/choreographer Amber Mak will be its first new works development director.

The latest example of Paramount flexing its muscles, Mak's hiring heralds the theater's expansion into new play development.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Paramount is already a proven place to re-imagine and revive our greatest musicals," Mak said in a prepared statement. "Now we're looking to the future ... to contribute to the growth and development of the art form. There is nothing more exciting and rewarding."

Mak will oversee creation and development of new shows with a goal of debuting a world premiere musical within five years. She will work with theater artists to organize readings and workshops for new shows, which artistic director Jim Corti says have been part of Paramount's mission since its inception.

"It was only natural that we begin creating new work and making a contribution to Chicago theater," Corti said.

Paramount's success, evidenced by subscriptions that surpassed 30,000 this year, made that an imperative.

"We have to keep expanding and challenging ourselves," Corti said.

Corti and CEO/President Tim Rater became aware of Mak -- who directed and choreographed Paramount's "Hairspray -- The Musical" -- through her work as founding director of Chicago's FWD Theatre Project, which presents staged readings of new works. FWD recently collaborated with Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil ("Les Miserables," "Miss Saigon") for a concert reading of their never-produced "La Revolution Française."

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"We were so impressed with her," said Corti, who praised Mak's taste, resourcefulness, dedication and ability to juggle multiple projects.

"She did a year's worth of listening and organizing new scripts and scores for no pay and it ended with 'La Revolution Française,'" said Corti.

He and Rater were so sure Mak was the right addition to their creative team, they created a full-time job for her. In hiring Mak, Paramount ups the ante in an already competitive suburban scene.

Last month, Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace revealed its intention to produce new musicals with the announcement that it had hired New York-based producer Laura Stanczyk as director of new works. Her hiring followed Drury Lane's pre-Broadway tryout last year of the new musical "Beaches." Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire has long produced new musicals, most recently 2015's world premiere of "October Sky."

In 2015, its first year of equity eligibility, Paramount Theatre earned more Joseph Jefferson Awards, including the award for best musical, than any other musical theater. For information on submitting new plays, see paramountaurora.com/newworks.

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