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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for June 20th, 2012




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Things have really been cooking at Sidetrack this past week! On Monday, June 18, 2012, the peripatetic theater troupe Theatre-Hikes entertained the crowd with live performances of songs from “Legally Blonde” and “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” plus the novelty song, “You’ve Got To Get Under, Get Out And Get Under,” which I don’t think is from a show, but probably should be. The point of this company is to create theater in venues where it wouldn’t ordinarily exist, and their current play “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” (performing this weekend at the North Park Village Nature Center and weekends in July at the Morton Arboretum) is a good example. We note that from August 18-September 2, they are performing the Jeff Award-winning musical “Streeterville,” about the birth of that Chicago neighborhood, back at North Park and at two venues in the south suburbs.


On the previous Monday, June 11, I marked a personal milestone in my attempt to bring you the very best gossip and most up-to-date news about musical theater in Chicago--it was my third anniversary of being at Sidetrack every single Monday--157 weeks in a row now, and counting. (I do leave town, but not on Mondays!) But it was Wednesday night, June 13, that was of greatest interest for most people, for that was the night of Sidetrack’s 30th anniversary celebration! The bar celebrated by counting down the 30 most popular videos in its entire history, from all genres and all nights of the week, but wouldn’t you know it that showtune videos dominated the top ten of the list! After videos 30-11 included such showtune favorites as “Hairspray”’s “You Can’t Stop The Beat” (edited together from four different televised performances by the original Broadway cast), Liza Minnelli’s “Cabaret” from the Academy Award-winning film, “A Lil’ Ole Bitty Country Place,” featuring Dolly Parton and the film cast of “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas,” and the “GleeCast version of “Don’t Stop Believin’” (and there were others), I believe the Top Ten was as follows (if I’ve gotten it wrong, somebody correct me!):

10. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross (she did sing showtunes, but this isn’t one!)

9. “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked,” by Idina Menzel and the original Broadway cast, from the 2004 Tony Awards broadcast

8. “Think” by Aretha Franklin, from “The Blues Brothers” film

7.  An Olivia Newton-John medley, which included excerpts from “You’re The One That I Want” (with John Travolta) from the “Grease” film and “Xanadu,” from, well, the “Xanadu” film (and she will be performing in Lakeview at Northalsted Market Days in August, btw)

6. A Cher medley, which included “Welcome To Burlesque” from the film, “Burlesque

5. The Oscar-winning song “The Morning After,” by Maureen McGovern, from the film “The Poseidon Adventure” (an original Sidetrack video edit, I’m sure)

4. The “torch-passing duet,” by Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, from Judy’s 1963-64 television show, which joined “Get Happy” with “Happy Days Are Here Again”

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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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