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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for June 6th, 2012





by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Congratulations for the newest winners of the Joseph Jefferson Awards were ringing out on Monday night, as well-dressed attendees of the Park West ceremony streamed into the Mosh Pit at Sidetrack for some after-show partying. The 39th annual non-Eq Jeffs are history now, and the big winner, as expected, was Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre and its production of “The Light In The Piazza,” winning six awards in all, the most of any production this year. In addition to Production – Musical, the show won Director – Musical honors for co-directors Fred Anzevino and Brenda Didier (multiple Jeff winners in the last few years), plus awards for musical director Jeremy Ramey (his first, I think), for Actress In A Principal Role – Musical recipient Kelli Harrington (as Margaret) and for Actor In A Supporting Role – Musical winner Justin Adair (as Fabrizio). The production also triumphed in a new Jeff category, as Eve Breneman took home Dialect Coaching honors.

In other musical categories, Dana Tretta won for her turn as Catherine in Bohemian Theatre Ensemble’s “Pippin,” Chuck Sisson was honored as Actor In A Principal Role – Musical for Circle Theatre’s “The Baker’s Wife,” and Circle’s “Urinetown” was responsible for two awards--Kevin Bellie for Choreography and Jesus Perez for Costume Design. As previously announced, the Chicago Park District’s Theater On The Lake won a Special Award, celebrating its 60th anniversary this month as a key outlet for small theaters in particular and for the entire Chicagoland theater community in general.

It’s too bad that Theo’s production of “Pump Boys And Dinettes” was shut out by “Piazza” after nabbing six nominations, but Bailiwick Chicago was shut out completely, after two of its shows (“Passing Strange” and “Violet”) had received five nominations each. Griffin Theatre’s “Spring Awakening” also had five nominations, and these were the five productions honored to perform for the crowd on Monday, to great acclaim. BroadwayWorld Chicago salutes all the winners, nominees and performers for a great theatrical season!

Jeff Award Nominees and Recipients

Last week in the Mosh Pit (the column, not the room), I presented our first ever Chicago Summer Musical Theater Guide, listing 35 theatrical events occurring between now and Labor Day here in the immediate vicinity. And now, as promised, I turn our collective attention to some of the theaters within a day’s drive of the Chicago Loop, places where Chicago theater artists (and many Chicago theater audience members) will find themselves during the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer (and, oh, those summer nights). The 2012 Regional Summer Musical Theater Scene is shaping up this way:

In Mt. Carroll, Illinois, near Galena in northwestern Illinois, is one of the region’s traditional summer stock theaters, the Timber Lake Playhouse, which celebrates more than 50 years of operation with its 2012 season. The theater opens this week, on June 7, with “Guys And Dolls,” running through June 17. The others shows in the lineup this year, running two weeks each, are “Working,” “Footloose,” the comedy “Boeing Boeing,” “Cabaret” directed by Bailiwick Chicago artistic director Lili-Anne Brown, and, closing on August 26, “Some Enchanted Evening.” And why not?

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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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