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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for January 9th, 2013




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

The "Big Fish" is comin'! We love our pre-Broadway tryouts, don't we? (Witness the popularity of the recent "Kinky Boots," winner of two BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards for its engagement this past October at the Bank Of America Theatre. And we loved our "The Addams Family," too, and of course the legendary tryout of "The Producers," is, well, legendary.) Anyway, the new musical "Big Fish," based on a 2003 Columbia Pictures film which starred Ewan MacGregor (directed by Tim Burton), will play at the Oriental Theatre for five weeks, beginning on April 2, 2013, with a confirmed press opening on April 21 and a closing date of May 5. Two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz will star, directed and choreographed by "Producers" director-choreographer Susan Stroman. Andrew Lippa ("The Addams Family") is providing the music and lyrics, with book by original screenwriter John August. Pretty good pedigree, there! The show is aiming for a 2013 Broadway opening, but as part of the 2013-14 season. And it certainly looks promising!


That's a Broadway In Chicago presentation, of course. However, one upcoming tour is independent of BIC, and it's a new tour of "Fela!." The show will play six performances at the Arie Crown Theater, inside the old McCormick Place building on Lake Shore Drive (for those of you too young to remember that's there's a theater in there, and that it was once one of Chicago's primary national tour venues). The 2009 Broadway musical played our city's Oriental Theatre this past spring, as part of the well-received national tour, and original star Sahr Ngaujah was recruited to return for that Chicago stop. This production's headliner is Michelle Williams (Destiny's Child, "The Color Purple"). The original producers and artistic team seem to still be involved (February 19-23).


But do not weep for Broadway In Chicago! Our local touring arm of the Nederlander Organization announced last week that the Chicago engagement of T-BOMb (that's "The Book Of Mormon," for those of you new to the Mosh Pit!) has been extended through September 8, 2013. At least. That makes nine months so far, and the second extension for the phenomenally popular, and well-reviewed, production at the Bank Of America Theatre. Get your tickets now, see the show....later. Much later, apparently! Do we have another "Wicked" on our hands?


Our other local Broadway show has also announced yet another extension. That would be "Million Dollar Quartet" at the Apollo Theater, which in early December announced... yet another extension (I've lost count at this point). In its fifth year, the show is selling tickets through April 28, 2013. You'll remember that the success of this Chicago production launched the Broadway (and off-Broadway transfer) of this show about Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, and that some of the Chicago cast members are now on the show's national tour as well. There was a London production as well. Producer Gigi Priztker is, and should be, justifiably proud.

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Paul W. Thompson Paul W. Thompson, a contributor to BroadwayWorld.com 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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