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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for January 15th, 2014




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

No sooner had I posted last week's Mosh Pit than it became immediately outdated! For, as many media outlets reported last week (including this one), there was a casting change in the tour of the new production of "The Phantom Of The Opera," playing now through March 2, 2014 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. And it's a big one, The Phantom himself. Mark Campbell left the tour "due to personal reasons," and an understudy has been tapped to play the role, for an undisclosed length of time. And the replacement is a friend of the Mosh Pit, and a friend of many Mosh Pit peeps! Cooper Grodin played Billy Bigelow in the August, 2010 production of "Carousel" at Light Opera Works in Evanston, directed by Stacy Flaster. He was also in the cast of "Les Miserables" when the new, now Broadway-bound production, directed (like the new "Phantom") by Laurence Connor, played the Cadillac Palace in 2011. Fast forward a little bit, and he's The Masked One himself. Great job, Cooper! Though we didn't see you on Monday night at Sidetrack with many of your fellow cast-members. Well, you've got another seven weeks to put in a personal appearance!


And the news didn't stop there from Broadway In Chicago. Last week, the Chicago branch of the Nederlander Organization, and the linchpin of the national touring circuit these days, announced that Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" would indeed tour in its successful Broadway incarnation that opened a year ago on the Main Stem. The only tour stop announced so far is at the Cadillac Palace, December 16, 2014 through January 4, 2015. And you thought you didn't know what to get people for Christmas next year....


And so, this is the time of year when Chicago's suburban, Equity musical theater houses open their post-Christmas shows. Quod Erat Demonstrandum, "Cabaret" at the north suburban Marriott Theatre, which begins previews tonight, opens next week and runs through March 16. (Makes you wonder how many more professional productions are licensed out there before the revival of the late 90s Broadway revival begins performances this spring.) Megan Sikora is Sally Bowles, Patrick Sarb is Cliff, and Stephen Schellhardt is the Emcee. Christine Sherrill is Fraulein Kost. David H. Bell directs, with choregraphy by Matt Raftery.


Out west at the Drury Lane Theatre, producers are taking a chance with Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein," in its regional professional premiere, which begins previews tomorrow, opens next week and also runs through March 16. Devin DeSantis stars, with Jeff Dumas, Johanna Mckenzie Miller, Jeff Parker, Travis Turner and Paula Scrofano. It's a talented cast. Can they make the problematic show work? Let's hope so.

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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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