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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for May 23rd, 2012





by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

EPIC! Monday night, May 21, 2012, was the night when not one, not two, but THREE contemporary pop-rock musical Theater Productions from the Chicago area held a joint public relations appearance at Sidetrack, for six songs and thirty minutes of showtune joy in the heart of the Showtune Mosh Pit. Social media had been abuzz all afternoon about the event, but details were sketchy until About Face Theatre Artistic Associate Scott Duff took the stage to announce the proceedings. And what proceedings they were! Unprecendented (at least in recent memory) and unforgettable.

First up was the well-received Porchlight Music Theatre production of Jonathan Larson's "tick, tick…BOOM!," now playing at Stage 773 through June 10th. The complete cast (Adrian Aguilar, Jenny Guse and Bear Bellinger) hit the stage with high energy, and performed the opening number, "30/90," followed by the closing number, "Louder Than Words," accompanied at the keyboard by musical director Diana Lawrence (herself flanked by Porchlight's Artistic Director, Michael Weber).

Then came the male half of the cast of Northlight Theatre's "[title of show]" by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, playing at the North Shore Center For The Arts through June 9th.  Accompanied by musical director Doug Peck, Matthew Crowle and Stephen Schellhardt performed "Untitled Opening Number" and "An Original Musical," complete with sandwich board.

And last, but certainly the most eagerly awaited of the night, was the joint About Face Theatre/American Theater Company co-production of Jonathan Larson's "Rent," the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner. The show is playing until June 17th at ATC's facility on Byron Street. Stars Alan Schmuckler and Derrick Trumbly performed "What You Own," preceeded by Schmuckler and Lili-Anne Brown (newly-named Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago, btw) performing "Tango: Maureen." Musical director Timothy Splain accompanied.

Can you say, "Awesome?" The large crowd was very enthusiastic and appreciative, and partied on into the night. Awesome. Awesome!


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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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