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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for February 26th, 2014




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

The biggest opening last week in Chicagoland was the retooled bio-revue "Ring Of Fire," the Broadway musical telling the life and songs of Johnny Cash that didn't fare so well on the main stem in 2006. But the Theatre At The Center in Munster, home to many of the down-home-themed musicals that do better in our area than many would believe ("Pump Boys And Dinettes," "Lost Highway," "Always...Patsy Cline," the upcoming "The Beverly Hillibillies," etc.) has it now. And they have Jeff and BroadwayWorld Chicago Award winner Cory Goodrich as June Carter, alongside Kent Lewis as Cash, the "Million Dollar Quartet" Man in Black himself. Michael Goodman plays Young Johnny, and Greg Hirte, Malcolm Ruhl, Billy Shaffer and William Underwood round out the cast as instrumentalists, etc. The show runs through March 30 and includes 35 songs. Not a bad sampling, I'm sure.


Chicago's Sondheim fest shifts toward high hopes for "Road Show" in the coming weeks, as the off-Broadway musical known as "Bounce" during its Goodman Theatre incarnation in 2003 is now readying for a run of March 13-May 4 Upstairs at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Directed by Gary Griffin and musical directed by Michael Mahler, himself a veteran of several shows where he played instruments onstage, that technique is reportedly being employed here too. No wonder! With the likes of Matt Deitchman, Jim DeSelm and Derek Hasenstab in the cast, supporting Michael Aaron Lindner and Andrew Rothenberg as Addison and Wilson Mizner, this production is garnering national attention. Get your tickets now.


Of course, "Road Show" joins "Gypsy" (lyrics by Sondheim) in rep at Chicago Shakes, the Jule Styne tuner running now through March 23 there (it's in the main Courtyard Theater). Starring the less-than-obvious-choice as leading lady, Louise Pitre, the production has garnered mostly rave reviews. Griffin's direction reportedly owes very little to Arthur Laurents' well-known stagings of his script, while fleshing out Laurents' (and Gypsy Rose Lee's) characters and world in exciting ways. Jessica Rush's Louise, Barbara Robertson's Tessie Tura and Rick Fox's musical direction have gained notice as well. Of course, you've seen "Gypsy," haven't you? Haven'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!”

StinkyKIDS the Musical
(Runs 4/17 - 4/17)
Oklahoma! in ChicagoOklahoma!
(Runs 4/11 - 4/18)
American Idiot in ChicagoAmerican Idiot
(Runs 4/23 - 4/23)
Sleeping Beauty in ChicagoSleeping Beauty
(Runs 4/15 - 4/25)
Side Effects May Include in ChicagoSide Effects May Include
(Runs 4/26 - 4/26)
Once Upon a Mattress in ChicagoOnce Upon a Mattress
(Runs 4/25 - 4/26)
The Sound of Music in ChicagoThe Sound of Music
(Runs 4/25 - 4/26)

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