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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for December 28th, 2011





by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Tonight’s the night! The only theater awards in Chicago decided entirely by online voting from average theatergoers, and the only awards presentation night to include both Equity and non-Equity productions, is here for the second consecutive year. and The Call Bar proudly present the 2011 BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards from 9:00 pm to whenever on Wednesday, December 28, 2011. I hope you will be there! The event is free and open to the public (ages 21 and over), and I will hosting, assisted by The Call’s Ashley Morgan and by BroadwayWorld Chicago contributors M. William Panek and Misha Davenport. Come one, come all to The Call!

The Call Bar is located at 1547 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue, between Clarkand Ashlandat the northern tip of Andersonville. It’s Showtune night there, and representatives from the shows and individuals winning in our 25 categories will be on hand throughout the evening to receive their certificates. All individual nominees and company members of nominated productions will receive yellow ribbons to wear, too, and we will hear from some of them as well. It’s a great chance for theater folk to meet their most loyal fans, to reminisce and reunite with each other, and to enjoy a fun and casual (but not TOO casual!) holiday event. Productions from “Follies” and “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” to “Cats,” “Violet,” “Pussy On The House,” “Alien Queen” and “Starship” will be honored. Will you be there? I hope so!

Click HERE to read about the BroadwayWorld Chicago Award Winners

This is shaping up to be a very eventful week overall for the Mosh Pit. On Tuesday night, many Mosh Pit peeps were enthralled by the televised tribute to Broadway legend Barbara Cook on the Kennedy Center Honors. Indeed, a performer of Cook’s caliber, and one known almost exclusively for work away from television or film, is rare enough, but to see a tribute to her with the likes of Broadway leading ladies Patti LuPone, Glenn Close, Audra McDonald, Sutton Foster, Kelli O’Hara and Laura Osnes (plus opera star Anna Christy) is perhaps even more rare. Aficionados know that Cook created major roles in “Candide” and “The Music Man” (in back to back seasons, too) as well as in “She Loves Me,” “Flahooley” and others. But for the last forty years (of her 60+ years in the business), she has concentrated on concertizing, and on teaching her way of performing the great songs of Broadway. For showtune lovers, she is unparalleled. And the tribute to her is already legendary! Two video bars I know of had better have taped it. And better be editing it now!

Tribute to Barbara Cook at Kennedy Center Honors -

And Monday night was pretty legendary too, in that Broadway and television star Christopher Sieber stopped by Showtune night at Sidetrack for about 90 minutes, in between his two weeks of performances as Albin/Zaza in the tour of the revival of “La Cage Aux Folles” at the Bank Of America Theatre. He hung out for a bit with yours truly and with opera singer Rodell Rosel (Monostatos in the current Lyric Opera Of Chicago production of “The Magic Flute”). He enjoyed watching himself in the “SpamalotTony Awards clip, sang along with Idina Menzel at the end of the “Wicked” clip (which he did eight times a week on Broadway in “Shrek”) and marveled at the weekly “Evita” event, which he remembered from his time in Chicago in the winter of 2004-5 with the “Spamalot” tryout (also at the BOAT, then still called the Shubert Theatre). There are grumblings in the Mosh Pit about co-star George Hamilton’s performance in “La Cage,” btw, but I’ve heard nothing but stellar things about Sieber’s turn. I mean, what’s not to love? 

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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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