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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for February 6th, 2013




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Welcome to the big Midwinter Round-Up! We're going to catch up on all the shows currently on the boards at our most important musical theater venues, as there's been a lot of opening night activity lately. Have you got your tickets to see these shows? Hop to it, peeps!

Did you know that Cathy Rigby is "Peter Pan?" As of now, the 60 year old former Olympic gymnast is the character, the show, and the embodiment of someone who, for whatever reason, just hasn't grown up! The national tour of the musical with songs by two writing teams and no credited bookwriter (that's Jule Styne-Betty Comden-Adolph Green, Moose Charlap-Carolyn Leigh and Sir James M. Barrie, respectively) is halfway through its two-week appearance at the Cadillac Palace Theatre on Randolph Street, and "Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan" is both the show's advertising tagline and its web address. Broadway's Brent Barrett is Captain Hook, and he spent some time at Sidetrack on Monday night, enjoying the new screen in the Glass Bar, and watching himself in the "Grand Hotel" video. Rigby was apparently drinking from the fountain of youth somewhere. She's been appearing in self-produced versions of the show, on Broadway, on tour, on television, even in Branson, Missouri, for almost 25 years. You really do need to see her.

A few blocks over, on Monroe Street, is T-BOM, "The Book Of Mormon" for those new to the Mosh Pit. Sellling tickets like gangbusters until September 8th (at least), the nine-time Tony winning production has replicated itself pretty well for its long stint at the Bank Of America Theatre. They do have a day-of-show lottery (put your name in, spend all day muttering "I Believe!," and then come back later for the drawing), but tickets are otherwise scarce for months to come. It was loved by all the critics, and has an ad budget the size of a small country. I hope you have your tickets!

The Book of Mormon in Chicago

The other current offering from Broadway In Chicago is "I Love Lucy Live On Stage," the 95-minute offering at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place that has recently extended for a few more weeks (until March 17, 2013). Cast members appeared on "Monday Night Live" at Petterino's this past Monday, advertising the extension. It's short, it's funny, it's cheap--insert the joke of your choice here. Save for an extended holiday break, during which they had to vacate the theater for "Potted Potter," this Los Angeles product has been here since September. Good for them!


The biggest news out of our resident theaters these days is the remarkably success achieved by Marc Robin and the Marriott Theatre with "Now And Forever: The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber." For the first time, the ALW powers-that-be authorized a theater to create an original revue using whatever material it wanted, and the result is, surprisingly, a dance spectacular that nevertheless has a half-dozen bona fide singing stars delivering the music and lyrics. Meanwhile, the dance troupe, utilizing three choreographers (Robin, Harrison McEldowney and Matt Raftery), shows mastery of the variety of styles demanded by Lloyd Webber's varied output (yes, his music always sounds like him, but he has always used a lot of different types of music, and doing both is perhaps the surest sign of his genius). There's a lot of video out there concerning this production, and I encourage you to seek it out. The spectacular show runs in Lincolnshire through March 17.

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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)
The Sound of Music in ChicagoThe Sound of Music
(Runs 4/25 - 4/26)
Side Effects May Include in ChicagoSide Effects May Include
(Runs 4/26 - 4/26)
Jesus Christ Superstar in ChicagoJesus Christ Superstar
(Runs 4/18 - 4/26)

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