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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for August 10, 2010





by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and the Call:

Happy Anniversary to "The Showtune Mosh Pit!" Last Thursday, August 5th, was the first anniversary of this series of weekly columns. Who knew that we would still be going strong, and entering our second year? I certainly had NO idea. As arguably Chicago's (Illinois's? the midwest's?) only column devoted exclusively to musical theater, music theatre, show music, musical films, musical cabaret performances and the like (CDs and books from time to time), no one knew back then if there was enough to write about (or if I would find the time to write about it). But, rapidly, I learned that there was almost always a LOT to write about, and I have endeavored to keep up! There is so much musical theater in this town--seriously! 

Not to mention the possibility of journalistic scoops and random gossip tidbits about shows and the people who make and/or love them. Why, just this past Monday night at our namesake Mosh Pit video bar, a theater critic and an artistic director sat deep in conversation for several hours, discussing who knows what! Future plans, past productions or common philosophies? I have no idea, but if they officially let me in on the scoop, I will bring it to you in the very next column! Sounds crazy, no? Sounds like a perfect item for a future Mosh Pit! 

In the future, my hope and plan is to continue and expand The Showtune Mosh Pit, for you: the fan, professional, student, bar patron or more than one of these! I have some specific ideas, but I want to hear your ideas and wishes, too. Drop me a line at and let me know want you think about where we've been, and where we're headed! 

In the meanwhile, here's a blast from the past: the very first Mosh Pit column. In case you didn't see it!  (lol) 

The Very First "Showtune Mosh Pit!" 

This week is the highly anticipated (or is it?) concert staging of "Annie Get Your Gun" at the Ravinia Festival. The show by Irving Berlin (which to me always needed its comma back ([Annie, Get Your Gun]) stars Patti LuPone in her third high profile Ethel Merman role (long in the tooth for it, but she certainly has the pipes), and co-stars Patrick Cassidy, son of Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy. George Hearn appears as Buffalo Bill Cody, and local favorite Joseph Foronda will be Chief Sitting Bull. Other lucky local performers fill out the ensemble, which kicks up its collective heel August 13, 14 and 15, 2010. By appearance, there are plenty of pavilion seats left. Which means the show wasn't selling even before the recent controversy surrounding the Stephen Sondheim birthday gala. Hmm. Is the bloom off the Mama Rose? Or is the economy to blame. Hmm. 

Ravinia Festival 

A transition of sorts takes place this week south of the Loop, as one 1971 New York musical based on the New Testament gives way to another. "Jesus Christ Superstar" ended its acclaimed run at the Theatre At The Center in Munster, Indiana on Sunday, and on Thursday, preview performances begin for "Godspell" at Provision Theater Company on the near South Side (Roosevelt Road just west of all that new stuff). The musical by the very young Stephen Schwartz will be on the boards August 11--September 26. Prepare ye the way!

Provision Theater Company 

Two big suburban proscenium companies are putting up musical adaptations this week as well. Way out west in Oakbrook Terrace, David H. Bell's "Hot Mikado" turns Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" into a snazzy piece of Americana at the Drury Lane Theatre between August 12 and October 3. 

Drury Lane Oakbrook 

And at Cahn Auditorium in north suburban Evanston, Light Opera Works is mounting Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Carousel" for three weekends, running August 14-29 (there's a Wednesday matinee August 18th). It's an updating of the Ferenc Molnar play "Liliom." 

Light Opera Works 

The Bohemian Theatre Ensemble has just announced the cast of its upcoming production of "Big River," the Tony Award-winning musical by Roger Miller and based on "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain. P. Marston Sullivan will direct Andrew Mueller, Brian-Alwyn Newland, Courtney Crouse, Rashanda Dawan, John B. Leen and others, as BoHo begins performing in Theater Wit's new space on Belmont Avenue. The show (one of the first Broadway musicals to transfer from an "out of town" non-profit to New York) will be up from September 10 through October 10. 

BoHo Theatre Presents BIG RIVER 

A rare production of Peter Brook's 1984 Tony Award-winning "La Tragedie de Carmen" is coming up later this month, for one night only, August 22 at 7:30 pm. The Skokie Theatre Music Foundation will present the British auteur's version of Georges Bizet's opera at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 N. Lincoln Avenue. Tickets are $25 at the door, and $20 in advance. Roy Cornelius Smith directs a cast of local opera singers, including Tina Pappademos as Carmen and Luis Antonio Galvez as Don Jose. I think it's a cast of four with piano accompaniment, but I bet they will sound fantastic in that space! And when else will you get experience this legendary experiment in your own backyard? 

Skokie Theatre Music Foundation 

And, last but not least, another personal note. Some of my Mosh Pit peeps may be aware that I was the victim of a little violence over the weekend that left me with seven stitches, a bruised larynx and the conviction that I would do it all over again next time, if need be. Some folks and I spoke out against the illegal hate speech and the bigotry that the world was being subjected to at that moment (compounded with some kicking), and I received the brunt of the perpetrator's cowardly punch to my lower lip (he and his lone ally remain at large).

It's too bad there is conflict in the world, and I certainly don't condone violence. And I thank everyone for your concern and your support, and please know that I think I will be fine. But I will gladly defend a class of people from callous scorn and derision, no matter the consequences. I'm sure many of you would have done the same thing. And now, let's keep making the world a happier, safer and more understanding place. There's a place for us, somewhere. Who'll help me find it? 

And with that, I will leave you to this gloriously hot summer, as I head east for a little musical theatergoing. Next week, I'll be back with my impressions, and I'll see you under the video screens.....--PWT

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From This Author 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 (read more...)