(CBS) — While Chicago’s downtown theater district attracts big audiences, the theater community in the suburbs also is thriving, reports WBBM’s Regine Schlesinger.

The latest evidence – a critically-acclaimed production of “Mary Poppins,” staged over the holidays at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora. The theater’s Jim Jarvis says by the time it closed on January 4, the musical drew a whopping 62,000 patrons, 12,000 more than expected.

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“To put it in perspective, more people came to see “Mary Poppins” than they did during our entire season for the 2010-2011 season.”

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He says their record audience for “Mary Poppins” demonstrates that musical theater is alive and well in the suburbs.

“We put on these amazing productions. A lot of critics are saying that the best musical theater right now is done here at the Paramount in Aurora.”

He says the shows are a bargain when you throw in free parking and a subscription series that lets you see four shows for the price of two.

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The Paramount is getting ready to stage the Who’s “Tommy” this week and gearing up for blockbuster audiences again this spring when it does “Les Mis.”