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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for August 22nd, 2012




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Monday night at midnight, the 2012 Equity Jeff Award nominations were announced! And it's a very long list. There are 197 nominations in 34 categories for the 44th annual Joseph Jefferson Awards, for Chicago area Equity productions which opened between August 1, 2011 and July 31, 2012. 118 productions were eligible, and 96 were declared "Jeff Recommended." From that list of productions, this week's nominations were decided. In addition to a whole host of plays, 24 musical productions received nominations, led by the Broadway World Chicago Award-winning production of "Follies" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, which appears on Jeff's list 7 times. Besides being up for Production – Musical – Large, the production's Caroline O'Connor and Alex Sanchez are Jeff nominees now as well, paralleling their wins at the BWW Awards last December (she for principal actress and he for choreography).

Some other leading contenders in the Large categories include the Drury Lane Theatre's "Hairspray," the Marriott Theatre's "The Pirates Of Penzance" and Writers' Theatre's "A Little Night Music," each of which received 6 nominations. The Drury Lane's "Sweeney Todd" and "The Sound Of Music," both of which were directed by Rachel Rockwell and musical directed by Roberta Duchak, received 5 nods apiece, including 2 each for Rockwell and Duchak.

Musical productions with 4 nominations include Porchlight Music Theatre's "Putting It Together" (it was the BroadwayWorld Award winner for Best Revue, and it's up for Production – Revue here), the Marriott's "White Christmas" and Lookingglass Theatre Company's "Eastland," the latter a rare instance of a new musical work that was also nominated for best production in its class. The Marriott's new "Hero" and the commercial "The Doyle And Debbie Show" (Royal George Cabaret Theatre) received 3 nominations apiece. The awards ceremony takes place at the Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace on Monday night, October 15, 2012. Break a leg, everyone!


The aforementioned Drury Lane Theatre is the one large musical house whose upcoming casting was missing from last week's Showtune Mosh Pit! So, here is the rundown on Rachel Rockwell's production of "Xanadu," which begins previews on September 6, and runs September 13-October 28.  Gina Milo (memorable as the Lady of the Lake in DLO's "Spamalot" 18 months ago) will star as Kira, and New York-based Chris Critelli will be Sonny. Others in the cast include Gene Weygandt, Nancy Voigts, Tammy Mader, Christine Sherrill, Stephanie Binetti, Sean Blake, Gary Carlson, Robin Childress and Jake Klinkhammer. And who doesn't love a Kevin Depinet set lit by Jesse Klug, with projections by Mike Tutaj? That sounds awesome!

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Paul W. Thompson Paul W. Thompson, a contributor to BroadwayWorld.com 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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