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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for July 25th, 2012




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Finally, some word about what we’ll be doing next May! I’m talking about the Lyric Opera Of Chicago production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s landmark musical, “Oklahoma!,” announced last year but with no details other than that it would be an “add-on” to the 2012-2013 opera season at Chicago’s historic Civic Opera House on Wacker Drive. It’s now been announced that Gary Griffin, the Chicago director who moved into the Broadway arena with “The Color Purple” a half-dozen years ago, will helm the production, which will run for 16 performances from May 4-19, 2013. That sounds to me like more of an Actors’ Equity performance schedule, rather than one typical of the American Guild Of Musical Artists, but what do I know? (Full disclosure: I am a member of both performers’ unions.) No casting was announced, but Broadway’s John Lee Beatty will make his Lyric debut as the set designer, with lights by Christine Binder and costumes by the very busy Mara Blumenfeld. And Agnes De Mille’s original choreography will be recreated for the production, but I don’t know who will take on that weighty task. At any rate, this sounds very promising, doesn’t it? Now if the casting is right, they just may have something! Please get it right, Lyric, please?


Chicago will see a fall production of Hammerstein protégé Stephen Sondheim’s presidential musical, “Assassins,” at the height of the election season, picking back up after the Olympics and the conventions. The show will preview October 10th and 11th, and run October 12-November 10, 2012, at the Viaduct Theatre on Western Avenue. Billy Pacholski produces and directs, with musical direction by Robert Ollis. And on Sunday, August 5, the cast of “Assassins,” joined by special guest Carey Anderson (from Broadway’s “Mamma Mia!”) will perform in a cabaret showcase at Davenport’s Piano Bar & Cabaret on Milwaukee Avenue. Cast members performing in the showcase include Sam Button-Harrison, Kevin Webb, Edward Fraim, Tom McGunn, Kris Hyland, Libby Lane, Kiley Moore, Michael Swisher, Ed Rutherford and Nick Druzbanski. Sounds cool!

Assassins Chicago 2012

Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” is in production right now to our north, in the 600-seat mainstage at the James Lumber Center For The Performing Arts at the College Of Lake County in Grayslake. Directed by Craig Rich, the show opened last weekend, and runs this Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well. David Lundholm and Kelley Combs star as the demon barber and his pie-making mistress, with brothers Mario and Dino Mazzetti as Pirelli and The Beadle.

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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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