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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for June 13th, 2012





by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

The 2012 Tony Awards are history, and our video bars are already playing clips from the CBS-TV broadcast! And our Mosh Pit community has a lot of differences of opinion about what we witnessed. Few of us have seen “Once” even once (sorry), and I don’t know anyone who has seen “Once” twice. But those who know the film upon which the eight-time Tony-winning musical was based seem very pleased at the show’s success, and are curious to see it (I have my ticket for July). The “Newsies” crowd seems content with the show’s nods for score and choreography, given that many fans go to musicals for exactly those components. And we were disappointed, but not surprised, that Chicagoan (former Chicagoan?) Jessie Mueller didn’t bring home the featured actress in a musical trophy for “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever,” and that former Chicagoan Spencer Kayden (Little Sally from “Urinetown”) didn’t win as featured actress in a play for “Don’t Dress For Dinner,” reprising her role from the 2008 Royal George Theatre production. At least Bruce Norris won Best Play for the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Clybourne Park,” set in Chicago and seen last fall at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. And there the agreements, and our hometown pride, end.

Neil Patrick Harris fans wanted more and thought he was great, but some have tired of him after three years as host now. Can a show be good as theater highlights, but bad as television? Should Patti LuPone have appeared (and sung) twice? Are we happy for Audra (the one and only), or shocked by her acceptance speech (search for it if you don’t know what I mean)? Did we like “Superstar” or “Godspell” more? Was “Follies” robbed, or it is overrated? Or did Sondheim shoot himself in the foot with that letter he wrote? Is “Ghost” great or awful? Is Ricky Martin great or awful? Was the Royal CaribbeanHairspray” appropriate or not, and does it matter that Chicagoan Harrison McEldowney was reportedly responsible for the staging seen on the broadcast? Ah, the questions, and the discussions, abound! Ain’t theater great?  J

Tony Awards

Back here in Chicago, it’s all about “Rock Of Ages,” isn’t it? The touring company of the Broadway show (apparently named after the 1763 Christian hymn text of the same name by the Rev. Augustus Montague Toplady) has set itself down for a two month run at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. Both the jukebox rock musical and the long-running children’s show “Pinkalicious” will share the stage there until they both close on August 5th. And the film version of the show, directed by Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”) and starring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, the Tony and Oscar winner (and musical theater star) Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand and (as the young leads) Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough, opens at theaters nationwide on June 15th. Is it any good? I don’t know, but it is what it is (the only film adaptation of a Broadway musical opening this year, until “Les Miserables” hits at Christmastime). So, are you going? And to which version? Or both?

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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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