'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for August 8, 2012


by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Let’s go chronologically this week, shall we? From the recent past to the distant future. Here goes!

It was a big weekend in Chitown, and in some ways an even bigger Monday night, as Broadway In Chicago presented its now traditional season preview in Millennium Park, headlined by Cyndi Lauper (composer-lyricist of “Kinky Boots”), Cathy Rigby (star of “Peter Pan”) and Joey (the horse, er, puppet star of the play “War Horse”). According to many friends of the Mosh Pit, they all acquitted themselves in fine form (Lauper by traipsing out into the crowd, and Rigby and Joey by doing handstands), as did the stars of the upcoming tours of “Catch Me If You Can” and “Sister Act,” and as did Chicagoans in various roles throughout the show. Oh, and there’s a relatively late addition to the fall BIC line-up, “Potted Potter,” a two-man show straight from off-Broadway and including some songs among its fast-paced satire of J.K. Rowling’s astoundingly successful series of books. We also got our first glimpse of Californians Sirena Irwin and Bill Mendieta from this fall’s “I Love Lucy Live On Stage” at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, and our own Emerald City Theatre’s production of “Cinderella,” which will follow “Lucy” into the BPAWTP come November. But when, oh when, will there be formal, official and complete announcements of the casts of all the non-touring BIC productions? Chicagoans are in them! Inquiring minds want to know!


Among the late-night places to be on Monday was Sidetrack, which played host to live performance of two numbers from the Circle Theatre production of Kevin Murphy’s and Dan Studney’s “Reefer Madness.” Musical director Jon Landvick introduced the proceedings, after which Eric Lindahl and Liz Bollar tore down the house, with an assist from a bevy of attractive chorus boys and girls. The well-received show, which is becoming quite a successful property hereabouts, runs through August 26, 2012 in Oak Park.


This weekend will see the opening of one of the last of this summer’s highly anticipated local productions, the Light Opera Works mounting of “Man Of La Mancha.” Once again, James Harms will take on the role of Cervantes/Don Quixote, which he played in 2009 at both Chamber Opera Chicago and the Theatre At The Center. (Harms’ last gig before this one was in “The Iceman Cometh” at the Goodman Theatre at the start of the summer.) Colette Todd will be Aldonza/Dulcinea, with Cary Lovett as Sancho Panza. As I understand it, these people can SANG. Rudy Hogenmiller’s production runs August 11-26 at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston, with the original 16-piece orchestration.

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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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