We all know theater people can sometimes be over the top.
Even Tim Rater’s wife called his press release touting the Paramount Theatre’s next production an exceedingly “bold statement.”
That’s because Rater, executive director of the Paramount in Aurora, described “In the Heights” as “the most moving and inspirational experience I’ve had in my theater career.”
Hands down, he declared, this “amazing production” — which opens Wednesday and runs through Oct. 6 — “will be the best show we have produced thus far in the Broadway Series.”
Bold indeed. As someone who’s attended all these remarkable performances during the last two seasons, I just had to call Rater on it — via the phone.
And Rater didn’t back down — not one bit.
“It moved me like no other,” he said, his voice emotional and reflecting the words he’d written earlier.
Rater admits this sort of over-the-top praise is putting him out there. In fact, after he wrote the press release following a run-through of the show Tuesday, he decided to watch the rehearsal again Wednesday before blasting out the mass email.
“I felt exactly the same,” he told me.
Despite that these run-throughs took place in the old Elks buildings with no costumes, props, orchestra or lighting, he said he “was totally lost in the story” because of the actors who drew him in.
“I wanted to jump up and join their world, to dance when they danced and to cry when they cried,” he had written in the press release.
The Paramount’s “In the Heights,” set largely in a Hispanic neighborhood in New York City, is the first Chicago-area production of this Broadway musical. It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won four, including Best Musical.
Yet Rater says he’s gotten concerns from some people who have never heard of the show and others who worry it consists of nothing but rap and hip-hop.
In fact, Rater calls the songs in the production, especially some of the big ballads, “the most powerful Broadway music” he’s ever heard.
It is a story that celebrates community and sacrifice. It is a story about family — for family. It is a story so universal and uplifting, Rater says, he’s bringing his 10-year-old daughter. And he plans to see it often in its run here.
Rater says he came out of the rehearsal “pumped and motivated” — and a little concerned he might have ruined a favorite blue silk shirt now stained with the tears that ran down his face.
Over the top? Or from the heart?
“People are going to be blown away,” he predicts. “It’s that powerful.”