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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for April 18th, 2012





by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

And let's get to it! "Hairspray" hit the western suburbs in a big way last week, courtesy of the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace. The eight-time Tony Award winner is arriving in a bright, new staging by Jeff Award-winner Tammy Mader, starring newcomer Lillian Castillo as Tracy Turnblad, the girl with the high hair and even higher hopes and dreams for her hometown of Baltimore. Michael Aaron Lindner and Tim ("Saturday Night Live") Kazurinsky co-star as Tracy's parents, with Rod Thomas as Corny Collins and Felicia P. Fields (Tony-nominated for "The Color Purple") as Motormouth Maybelle. Other prominent members of the large cast include Holly Stauder, George Andrew Wolfe, Alexis J. Rogers and Dina DiCostanzo. After this week's official opening for the press, "Hairspray" will run through June 17, 2012. You can't stop the beat!

DLO Hairspray

The other big news from last week is the double good news from Team StarKid, the Chicago-based new media theater company founded by a group of University of Michigan students who hit it big on the internet with "A Very Potter Musical" just three years ago this month. Their latest online parody musical, "Holy Musical B@man!," taped last month at Lakeview's Hoover-Leppen Theater (Center on Halsted), was released online April 13. As big a piece of news as that is, the group's diehard young fans may be even more stoked to find out that Team StarKid will embark on its second live concert tour quite soon, starting at our very own House Of Blues on May 9-10. I believe that songs from all five of the Team's online musicals will be performed, including the BroadwayWorld Chicago Award-winning "Starship." The "Apocalyptour" will have a cast of nine and a band of five. They'll hit 21 cities in a month.



One of Team StarKid's founders is Darren Criss, though the actor-singer-songwriter will not be appearing in the tour. You can catch him on his day gig, FOX-TV's "Glee," these days, as the show wraps up its third season with the impending graduation of several key characters (though the show has been renewed for next season). He was featured on last week's episode, alongside guest star Matt Bomer. This week's episode was based on disco music, and next week's show will be a tribute to Whitney Houston. You're still watching it, aren't you?

And "Hairspray" songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are the songwriters for NBC-TV's "Smash." (See how I did that?) The fairly new show, set in the world of modern Broadway, has also been renewed for next season, and unveiled guest star Uma Thurman ("The Producers") this week. Perhaps the biggest news of all: the show's season one soundtrack album will be released May 1st. I wonder if the tracks will be arranged in the order the songs were broadcast, or the order in which they appear in the show-within-a-show, the one about that Marilyn Monroe ("Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "Some Like It Hot"). You're watching it, aren't you?

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Paul W. Thompson Paul W. Thompson, a contributor to since 2007, is a Chicago-based singer, actor, musical director, pianist, vocal coach, composer and commentator. His career as a performer, teacher and writer is centered at Paul W. Thompson Music, located in Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building, where he teaches the great songs of Broadway to the next generation of musical theater performers. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Paul was raised in a family of professional musicians and teachers, steeped in classical, gospel, country, pop, sacred and show music. Dubbed a “thin, winsome lad” at the age of 13 by a critic for the Nashville Banner, he earned two degrees in musical theater (a B.F.A. with Honors from Baylor University and an M.M. from the University of Miami, Florida), plus an M.B.A. with Distinction from DePaul University. Paul’s memberships include Actors’ Equity Association, the American Guild of Musical Artists, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (proud voter for the Grammy Awards!), the National Association of Teachers of Singing and New York’s Drama League.

Moving easily between the worlds of classical music, religious music, classic pop and musical theater, Paul has appeared onstage or in the orchestra pit in concerts, musicals, operettas and operas in 30 states and in Europe, in a career spanning more than 35 years. His Chicagoland stage credits include “Forever Plaid” at the Royal George Theater and twenty mainstage productions at Light Opera Works. Paul joined the Chicago Symphony Chorus in 1995 (he was Tenor I Section Leader for four years and sings on two Grammy-winning recordings), and is one of Chicago’s foremost liturgical singers, marking 20 years as a member of the choir at St. James Cathedral (Episcopal) in 2011.He has composed and arranged a number of anthems, hymns and songs for worship and concert use, and collaborates on the creation of new works of musical theater. Paul can be found on Monday nights watching showtune videos at the world-famous Sidetrack nightclub, the inspiration for his weekly column, “The Showtune Mosh Pit.” His proudest achievement is that he has seen the original Broadway production of every Tony Award-winning Best Musical since “Cats.” No, really. Since “Cats!”

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