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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for May 16th, 2012





by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Last week, the Mosh Pit reported on the first annual Illinois High School Musical Theater Awards, a preliminary to the “Jimmy” Awards (named for James M. Nederlander), taking place in New York on June 25, 2012. The Illinois competition was on Monday of last week, and the winners were Nathan Salstone (Northbrook) from Glenbrook North High School, north of Chicago, and Meadow Nguy (O’Fallon) from O’Fallon Township High School, east of St. Louis. They both will receive a free trip to the Big Apple, and the chance to compete against other state representatives. Sounds pretty awesome to me! Way to go, you guys. See you in the video bars in about three years….


Speaking of the young, and those young performers performing for the even younger, Team StarKid was at it again last week, performing two shows at the House Of Blues as the kickoff to their 21-city tour, mostly at other HOB venues. Darren Criss wasn’t there, but half of the material these Chicago-based former college classmates of his performed was written by him. I was one of the few journalists or critics present, and probably the oldest person in the room who wasn’t escorting a teenage son or (who I am kidding, they were all girls) daughter to the “Apocalytour,” in which literally dozens of original musical theater songs were performed for adoring fans. Most of those present knew the songs before they got there, and all of them seemed to know the nine actors and five band members--from internet videos, from audio downloads or from merchandise sales. It’s a new day, people. Does your musical theater company have fan-generated websites? And millions of Google hits? And three Billboard-charting albums of material from your original shows? I wish we all were this successful! Their numbers (as well as their numbers) are pretty impressive.

My review of Team StarKid's APOCALYPTOUR

In a more traditional vein, though it’s apparently an innovative production, Writers’ Theatre seems to have a big hit on its hands with Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music,” which opened in Glencoe last week to universal raves. But there is even more Sondheim afoot, just a little farther from the Loop. Up in Milwaukee, a significant production of “Sunday In The Park With George” is about to open at the newly renamed Skylight Music Theatre, starring Chicago’s (and New York’s) Sean Allan Krill as Georges/George, with Alison Mary Forbes as Dot/Marie. Krill’s last job was as the stand-by for Harry Connick, Jr. in a certain Broadway revival, the one that starred a certain Jessie Mueller in her Tony-nominated Broadway debut. And I have to say that the pictures I’ve seen of the Skylight SITPWG look awesome. The run is May 18-June 10.

In the southern part of our viewing area, Sondheim’s other musical with a book by James Lapine, Into The Woods,” is also playing this weekend (only) at Ridge Park (near 95th and Vincennes), courtesy of the Munroe Park Theater Guild and the Chicago Park District. It plays Thursday through Sunday, May 17-20. Don’t worry, it’s a long way away from the NATO summit! And it features two brothers, Mathew Walsh and Brian Walsh, as the princes (Rapunzel’s and Cinderella’s, respectively). What’s not to love?

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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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Oklahoma! in ChicagoOklahoma!
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American Idiot in ChicagoAmerican Idiot
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Sleeping Beauty in ChicagoSleeping Beauty
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Side Effects May Include in ChicagoSide Effects May Include
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Once Upon a Mattress in ChicagoOnce Upon a Mattress
(Runs 4/25 - 4/26)
The Sound of Music in ChicagoThe Sound of Music
(Runs 4/25 - 4/26)

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