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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for January 30th, 2013




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Things are really hopping over at Bailiwick Chicago! The young collective is juggling three projects as we speak! Most prominently, Bailiwick's production of the 2005 off-Broadway musical by Michael John LaChiusa, "See What I Wanna See," begins performances February 15, in rotating rep with two other shows by other companies. They are all part of the "Garage Rep" series presented by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in The Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted Street in Chicago. The other shows are "She Kills Monsters" from Buzz22 Chicago and "BlackTop Sky" from Theatre Seven Of Chicago. The three shows run until April 21, 2013. SWIWS's cast includes Harter Clingman, Shariesse Hamilton, Evan Tyrone Martin, Peter Oyloe and Danni Smith, directed by Lili-Anne Brown and musical directed by James Morehead.


This very week sees the performances of the Chicago Casting Auction production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," a show which continues Chicago's unofficial Andrew Lloyd Webber festival in a way I didn't see coming. This production is a fundraiser for Bailiwick, in which supporters bid on roles in a show (that was on October 27th), and then put on the finished product some months later. It previewed on Monday of this week and will do so again tonight, officially opening on Thursday. The other three performances (on February 1, 2 and 9) are already sold out. The show takes place at Stage 773.

And a very special evening will take place on Friday night, February 8 at Uncommon Ground on Devon Avenue, when "Hope For Joe" takes place, a benefit for Joe Garrasino, a Connecticut native and friend of the Bailiwick family who has a rare and terminal type of liver cancer. Many of the performers are Bailiwick ensemble members and alumni. Kate Garrasino and Christopher Pazdernik will host, with musical direction by Aaron Benham and Robert Ollis. On the list to perform are such talents are Cristin Boulette, Danny Bernardo, Katherine Condit, Harmony France, Michael Harnichar, Ryan Lanning, Megan Long, Bethany Thomas and many more.

Hope For Joe

Another 2005 musical is receiving a production here in town in February, the Broadway musical "Little Women," the show that gave us several outstanding audition songs and the remarkable Act I closer, "Astonishing." The Sutton Foster/Maureen McGovern show about the March girls and their boyfriends and their life choices will play weekends from February 16-March 3, at the James Downing Theatre on the northwest side (6740 N. Oliphant). Corey Mills is directing a cast including Molly Kral as Jo, Johanna Moffitt as Meg, Christine Morgan as Beth and Mary-Margaret Roberts as Amy. Marta Johnson is the musical director of the Jason Howland-Mindi Dickstein score.

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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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