A Thriving Arts and Dining Scene
I have never been terribly artistically inclined. Case in point, when I was in about third grade I took my first piano lesson, after which my teacher told me to quit. OK, not in so many words, but apparently I was looking out the window throughout the lesson. So when my mom came to pick me up, my teacher gracefully but very clearly explained that perhaps my commitment level was not where it needed to be for future piano studies. So that was it, one lesson and I was done.
It was probably for the best as I tended to be drawn more to sports than the arts. But even though I never showed any artistic inclinations — not counting the Acting for Non-Majors class I took on a lark in college — I remember always being impressed and sometimes awed by talented friends that could draw, sing, play an instrument, or perform on stage.
As I’ve gotten older, my appreciation for the arts has continued to grow. Every time I go to a show I come out simply amazed at the level of talent on display. Apparently I am not the only one because, as you will see from our State of the Arts feature on page 34, the breadth and depth of artistic offerings in the western suburbs — and support in terms of number of people attending — has never been stronger.
The Paramount Theatre in Aurora, for example, now has more than 41,000 subscribers to it’s annual four-show Broadway Series. That’s the second largest subscriber base of any theatre in the country. Truly amazing. But having been to a number of shows at the Paramount, I can’t say that I’m surprised. The shows are truly wonderful — the production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” with an all African-American cast a couple of years ago was particularly inspiring.
As much as I enjoy the shows — not to mention the gorgeous historic ambiance of the theater itself — I find it almost equally inspiring to be among the thousands of people streaming into downtown Aurora to experience the power and beauty of
the arts firsthand. The pre-show buzz and enthusiasm is palpable. Better yet, with the addition of the outdoor concert venue RiverEdge Park a few years ago and the opening of Paramount’s new School of the Arts this summer, the positive
momentum continues. The beneficial ripple effects of the Paramount’s success have been and will likely continue to be felt for years, both in terms of significantly raising the profile of the arts in the western suburbs, and in helping to facilitate the ongoing revival of Aurora’s downtown.
Speaking of revivals, a number of other west suburban downtowns are showing a significant resurgence thanks to the ongoing restaurant boom. Town centers that were once virtually deserted in the evenings are now bustling with activity, even on weekday nights. As a byproduct of that trend — and as you will see in our annual Dining Guide on page 53 — we are also getting an influx of great new restaurants.
We hope you are one of the many folks taking full advantage of the abundance of great artistic and dining offerings and,as always, thanks for being a reader!Edit Module