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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for March 16th, 2011





by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

We've just had a big weekend in the Mosh Pit! Sunday at the No Exit Café was the press opening of the Rodgers and Hammerstein revue "Some Enchanted Evening" by Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, and it seems to have gone smashingly well! Positive reviews and word of mouth are pouring in, as Fred Anzevino's "little company that could" continues to do. Choreographer Ben Mason and musical director Austin Cook helped director Anzevino put actors Jeremy Trager, Dana Tretta, Evan Tyrone Martin, Sara Schoch and Danni Smith through their mid-century paces, and the show continues through April 30, 2011. "The George M. Cohan Revue," which I believe is an original piece, will follow the current Broadway revue into the No Exit from May 13 to July 3. 

Some Enchanted Evening « Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre 

Also on Sunday, Theo Ubique announced its 2011-2012 season. It's interesting. It starts in September with "Starting Here, Starting Now," the Malby and Shire original revue from 1977, with the country comedy and crooning of the "Pump Boys And Dinettes" playing the holiday slot. One year from now, the Adam Guettel/Craig Lucas Tony winner "Light In the Piazza" will fill hearts and minds, and Summer 2012 will bring a Neil Sedaka revue I don't know, called "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do." Sounds like a winning season to me! 

2011-12 Season « Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre 

Monday night of this week brought together cast members of the touring cast of "Hair" and the Chicago cast of "Million Dollar Quartet" in the Glass Bar at Sidetrack for a "Be-In" fundraiser for Broadway Impact, the marriage equality organization founded by Gavin Creel of the Broadway "Hair" cast. Apparently the place was rockin' and rollin'! 

Broadway Impact - About Us 

And on Tuesday night, many folks were glued to their TV screens (or the virtual equivalent thereof) for the big "Glee" "Original Song" episode, including the spring regional choir competition and a little romance with big implications. Several new series seemingly inspired by or "green-lighted" by "Glee" (itself made possible by "High School Musical," methinks) are in the offing, so perhaps it's a good time now to step back and take stock of how we've gotten used to an award-winning, hour-long, weekly, prime-time, broadcast network TV series about performing arts education. The diverse cast of characters, the famous guest stars and the chart-topping song recordings are icing on the cake. Is this all really happening? Will we someday think this was a golden, even a magical time? Perhaps we will. 


Highland Park's Ravinia Festival announced its summer line-up last week, and boy, were we disappointed. There's not a full-scale concert mounting of a musical (or a Patti LuPone) in sight. All is not entirely lost, however. The big news for many is the scheduling of a concert by Academy Award-winning singer Jennifer Hudson in the Pavilion on a Saturday night (July 16). I mean, that is enormous news! And one week later (July 23), Ravinia will present its now infamous Gala Benefit Evening, a salute to George Gershwin featuring three of his best-known orchestral works (the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will handle them, of course, and Kevin Cole will be the featured soloist on "Rhapsody In Blue"). Vocalists Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O'Hara and Sylvia McNair will also be on hand, but not for long. Ravinia is taking pains this year to explain that the entire concert will be an intermission-less 75 minutes. 

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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!”

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