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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for January 2nd, 2013




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Happy New Year, Mosh Pit Peeps! And you know what that means? It's time once again for the twice yearly Showtune Mosh Pit "Top Ten Hot Topix!" It's been six months since our last countdown, from the heat of summer to the depths of a cold (but not yet snowbound) Chicago winter. We've touched on 170 different topics since Independence Day, and here are the ten most popular!

But first, a first! I've never done an Honorable Mention before. But it seemed like there were five topics, all local productions, which deserved to be brought up one last time. They are (in alphabetical order): "A Class Act" from Porchlight Music Theatre, "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" from Bailiwick Chicago, "42nd Street" from Theatre At The Center, "Singin' In The Rain" from Drury Lane Theatre and "Smokey Joe's Café" from Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre. Congratulations to them! Whew!

And now, to the Top Ten countdown!

10. "Les Miserables." The end of 2012 was a bombardment of riches from the 1985 London production of Claude-Michel Schonberg's and Alain Boublil's French musical about Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Cosette, Marius, Eponine, Enjolras, Gavroche and the Thenardiers. (Did I leave anyone out?) The "25th Anniversary Production" of the stage show visited us via Broadway In Chicago for the last two weeks of November, and blew us away with a fresh vision of theatricality for the now beloved score and emotion-laden plot. And on Christmas Day, the Hollywood film version of the show opened to great attention and opinion-making on all fronts, with the various qualities of Tom Hooper's film and the singer-actors he cast in it (Tony winner Hugh Jackman and Oscar winner Russell Crowe chief among them) free fodder for late night conversation and all day social media discussions. Whatever your opinions, ignoring the Barricade was hard to accomplish.

Broadway In Chicago's National Tour Presentation

Official Film Website

9. The Music Box Theatre. We do love our Music Box! The vintage movie theater on Southport Avenue seems to love us back, too. Within the last few months, the theater has offered sing-along versions of "The Sound Of Music" and "Xanadu," plus its annual Christmas Show presented "White Christmas" and "It's A Wonderful Life." One could also catch the new independent film "Scrooge And Marley" there, which was filmed entirely in Chicago and featured original songs by the Annoyance Theatre's Lisa McQueen. "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Phantom Of The Paradise" are coming up there soon. OK, those are not family favorites or 3D extravaganzas. But be patient. There's more to come, I'm sure!

8. "I Love Lucy Live On Stage" at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. This independent commercial production, a hit in Los Angeles, set up shop in Chicago at Broadway In Chicago's Magnificent Mile outlet in September, took a break for the holidays (to make way for the play "Potted Potter") and is now back ("Potter" having moved--theatrical real estate is tricky!) and is playing through March 3, 2013. The two original Los Angeles leads came here, and Sirena Irwin is leaving with a BroadwayWorld Chicago Award for her portrayal of Lucy Ricardo in two original scripts from the beloved 1950s television show. There's music with the commercial breaks and the studio audience interaction, and of course, Ricky Ricardo was a bandleader. You got the idea!

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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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