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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for September 19th, 2012




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

The dueling “Assassins” are at it again! Chicago’s two upcoming productions of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s 1990 musical about the folks who’ve tried to kill sitting U.S. presidents both made PR strides earlier this week. The full Viaduct Theater production that runs October 12-November 10 brought its talented and mostly young cast to Show Tunes at Sidetrack on Monday night, performing “The Gun Song” and “Everybody’s Got The Right” for the assembled crowd in the Showtune Mosh Pit. That’s a lot of people on the tiny temporary stage in the Main Bar! And the production announced it has worked out a reduced-price ticket deal in conjunction with Bailiwick Chicago’s Chicago premiere production of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” opening October 4th. Billy Pacholski is producing and directing “Assassins,” with musical direction by Robert Ollis. Sam Button-Harrison is The Balladeer, with Kevin Webb as John Wilkes Booth and Ed Rutherford as John Hinckley (“Unworthy Of Your Love”).

And the one-night only (November 5, 2012, at 7:30 pm) concert presentation of the show, at the Francis W. Parker School (as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival), has confirmed its high-profile cast for me this week. And here it is! Nick Bowling directs, and Doug Peck music directs, a cast including Rob Lindley as The Balladeer, Rebecca Finnegan as Sara Jane Moore, William Travis Taylor as Leon Czolgosz, Mitchell Fain as Samuel Byck, Robert Hunt as John Wilkes Booth, Dana Tretta as Squeaky Fromme, Matt Mueller as John Hinckley, Patrick Andrews as Lee Harvey Oswald, Sean Blake as Proprietor, Joseph Tokarz as Giuseppe Zangara, Alan Schmuckler as Charles Guiteau, Peggy Roeder as Emma Goldman, and an ensemble consisting of Andrew Robinson, John Finley, Anne Sheridan Smith and Lauren Villegas. E Faye Butler will sing, “Something Just Broke.” That’s quite a cast!

And it’s time to talk about Broadway In Chicago again, as the powerful presenting organization has announced its full 2013 spring subscription series. (Some of these shows had been previously announced, but now we know the whole picture.) There will be two pre-Broadway productions and three post-Broadway tours on the series, with two returning tours and the sit-down of off-Broadway’s “Potted Potter” as subscription add-ons (it actually begins November 13, 2012 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place). The pre-Broadway shows will be the revival of “Jekyll And Hyde,” starring Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox in Frank Wildhorn’s poperetta that helped usher in the current age of Broadway belt singing (March 12-24, 2013 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre), and the new musical “Big Fish,” trying out here for five weeks, starring two-time Tony Award-winner Norbert Leo Butz, directed by Susan Stroman and with a score by Andrew Lippa (April 2-May 5, 2013 at the Oriental Theatre). Tours seen here for the first time post-Broadway will be “Priscilla Queen Of The Desert” (March 19-31 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University), “Catch Me If You Can” (April 2-14 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre) and “Anything Goes” (April 23-May 5 at the Cadillac Palace). Tours we will see for the second time will be “American Idiot” (April 16-April 21 at the Cadillac Palace) and “West Side Story” (June 11-16 at the Oriental). Subscriptions go on sale on Friday, September 21st!!! Get your dialing fingers ready….

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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!”

Oklahoma! in ChicagoOklahoma!
(Runs 4/11 - 4/18)
American Idiot in ChicagoAmerican Idiot
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Sleeping Beauty in ChicagoSleeping Beauty
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State Fair in ChicagoState Fair
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Jesus Christ Superstar in ChicagoJesus Christ Superstar
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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
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