Paramount-produced “The Secret of My Success” succeeds on every level

“The Secret of My Success” made its world premiere in downtown Aurora at the Paramount Theatre this February. Yes, that means it has never been seen on stage until now.

After more than three years in development, the stage production by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen succeeds in modernizing the 1987 movie starring Michael J. Fox. The stage version mimics the Hollywood production only in concept and title, and includes a mostly regional cast along with choreography by Amber Mak, Paramount’s new works development director.

The score by Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler brings the production to a new level, and makes it very worthy of the Paramount stage. The duo clearly channels woman power in “(I Think I) Like You,” and likewise goes to pure humor in “You’re a D-Bag, Brantley Foster.”

So, how did Paramount Theatre land the debut of what could very well be the next big Broadway hit? Naperville native Chris Herzberger, the senior vice president of Universal Theatrical Group at Universal Pictures, had a hand in it as “The Secret of My Success” is a Universal film. Undoubtedly, Herzberger will be receiving lots of kudos as the stage version climbs the ladder to … perhaps Broadway.

The Paramount team, now known for their incredible stage productions, takes it to a new level with “The Secret of My Success.” The set design is perfection, the pace is flawless, and the cast is incredible. As always, the orchestra conducted by Tom Vendafreddo adds to the energy on stage.

Jim Corti, Paramount’s artistic director, describes the teamwork via a Facebook post after its opening weekend:

A Sunday morning of gratitude for the work, the colleagues, the friends, Paramount’s family and all the goodness and power of everyone putting together The Secret of My Success. Tim Rater believes in the future of possibilities as does Rose Quealy and their expertise and care harness the best of staffers in production, company management, backstage crews, our construction shops, orchestra, and front of house personnel. Our friends at Universal, Chris Herzberger and Lowe Cunningham, discerning and loving, are matched by Paramount’s Amber Mak as Director of New Works Development (and the show’s Choreographer). Amber organized that first week of work-shopping and the remarkable reading experienced here some three years ago. At that time we also met Director Gordon Greenberg and Co-writer Steve Rosen, brilliant, consummate pros. To have Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler composing the score instilled so much pride and excitement for me personally. I’ve known these young guys for, jeez, I don’t know how long, and to hear this work brimming with their love of this form of music and theatre, so smart, funny and heartfelt; yes, its sentimental and very fulfilling having them here. Paramount’s Tommy Vendafreddo (Conductor) working with Ian Weinberger (Music Supervisor) and Charlie Rosen (Orchestrator) dazzled. They all dazzle, working, collaborating, so open, sharp, tireless. This cooperative extends into creative design with Paramount’s Jeff Kmiec on scenic, Greg Hofmann on lighting, Mike Tutaj‘s projections, Adam Rosenthal on sound and the debut of Mara Blumenfeld here on costumes. Add all the managers, department heads and assistants and associates and yeah, ya got one “hot bed of creativity” alright! This cast has been rehearsing changes and additions right up to Press Night. Leads, Billy Tighe and Sydney Morton, have been true leaders, game, unflappable, and absolute knock-outs. Dynamite Heidi Kettenring, Gabe Ruiz, and this dream cast of actors, make an absolutely incredible ensemble with extraordinary skills (and patience!). Thinking on everyone, all the action, the discussions, the laughs, the sweat; a sweet moment for a Sunday morning. Praise and thanks to all of them. See their bright and beautiful work in the world premiere of The Secret of My Success.

Jim Corti, Artistic Director

What Corti describes as “bright and beautiful” is most definitely the “wow” factor that could bring “The Secret of My Success” beyond the Paramount stage. For now, locals are lucky to bask in the bright lights of the success of a historic can-do theater in downtown Aurora.

“The Secret of My Success” runs through March 29 at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in Aurora. Performances are Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Thursdays at 7 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tickets start at $36.

For tickets and information, visit ParamountAurora.com, call (630) 896-6666, or stop by the Paramount box office Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Secret of My Success is suggested for ages 10 and up due to light sexual content and adult language.

For patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, The Secret of My Success will be presented with live ASL interpretation on Friday, March 27 at 8 p.m. Patrons can purchase $30 tickets with special seating for this performance with the code ASLPARAMOUNT.