'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for October 16th, 2013

'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for October 16th, 2013




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Last Friday afternoon, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place was filled near to capacity, as Broadway In Chicago hosted a joint media and group sales event in promotion of the show everyone will be talking about next summer, "The Last Ship," conceived by and with a score by Sting. Co-producer Jeffrey Seller ("Rent," "Avenue Q," "In The Heights") was introduced by BIC President Lou Raizin, who in turn introduced Sting, the former frontman of the band The Police, a 16-time Grammy Award winner and star of the 1989 Broadway revival of Kurt Weill's best-known work, "3 Penny Opera." Also appearing onstage with Seller and Sting were Jimmy Nail (the British television star best known in the United States as Agustin Magaldi in the film version of "Evita") and pianist and musical director Rob Mathes. And then the fun began.

Sting, Nail and Mathes sang five songs from the show, which is set to make its pre-Broadway world premiere at our Bank Of America Theatre from June 10-July 13, 2014. Sting won't be in the show, but Nail will be, in the supporting role of Jackie (Sting described him as his "male muse" during the writing of the show). The three men have just finished a run of performances of songs from "The Last Ship" at New York's Public Theater last month, so everything was relaxed, polished and compelling in this concert context. And, as Sting released an album called "The Last Ship" on September 24, 2013, of songs written for the project (whether or not they make the final script and score), one must assume that the arrangements, etc. will end up somewhat different than their current form. The men sang "What Have We Got?," "Dead Man's Boots," "What Say You, Meg?" (which replaces the album's "Practical Arrangement" in the show), "August Winds" and "The Last Ship." And the assembled crowd ate it up, I must say.

I can tell you that we all will be talking about this show a lot, and, apparently, scrambling for tickets among all those group sales groups. Once the new staging of "The Phantom Of The Opera" ends its run of January 9-March 2, 2014 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, it will be full speed ahead to the premiere of "The Last Ship." Historians may put it in the same boat as Cyndi Lauper's "Kinky Boots" and Elton John's "Billy Elliot," but those Tony-winning shows with pop-star scores, and with similar settings and themes (northern England, fathers and sons) aren't bad company at all. The script of "The Last Ship" is by John Logan ("Red") and Brian Yorkey ("Next To Normal"), with direction by Rockford, Illinois, native Joe Mantello ("Wicked") and choreography by Steven Hoggett ("Once").


Speaking of "Once" and Broadway In Chicago, everybody is talking about "Once," the 2012 Tony winner for Best Musical that is now visiting us through October 27, 2013 at the Ford Oriental Theatre. Nearly every critic has loved it, and many audience members are chatting it up in person and online. Some folks say that this tour is "better than Broadway." And cast members and Chicagoans Tiffany Topol and Claire Wellin are glad to be home for three weeks. Always a good thing. Especially when the tour may be on the road for two or three years. Let's hope it is, and that it comes back!

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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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