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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for December 4, 2013




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Welcome to your all-non-holiday Mosh Pit! In the wake of Kim Zimmer and company wowing the Showtune crowd as Sidetrack on Monday night (a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS), we've realized that there are a lot of shows that have nothing at all to do with tinsel, Wise Men or jolly red elves. Especially those shows opening early next year. So let's put the eggnog and wassail on hold, and dive into what's going on in locally-based productions that have year-round appeal.

The much-lauded production of "The Mikado" directed by Sean Graney for The Hypocrites has returned for a second year. At the Chopin Theatre last December, it is now in the Steppenwolf Garage through December 29. Choreographer Katie Spelman and music director Andra Velis Simon lead a cast of 11 through their paces in this non-traditional staging of a beloved masterpiece of English music theatre. Last year's production is nominated for a BroadwayWorld Chicago Award. Better catch this year's version to figure out what you missed!

The little-seen Broadway musical "Triumph Of Love" is making what may be its Chicago area debut this weekend and next, in a concert production by the Music Theatre Company in Highland Park (December 6-15). Directed by James Beaudry and music directed by Kory Danielson, Jeffrey Stock and Susan Birkenhead's musical stars Elizabeth Telford and Nathan Gardner, with Sawyer Smith, Meghan Murphy, Bill Chamberlain, Garret Lutz and Katherine L. Condit in Betty Buckley's role of Hesione. Rare, indeed!

Kokandy Productions' "Sweet Smell Of Success" will trod the boards at Theater Wit in Lakeview from January 10-February 2, 2014, directed by John D. Glover and music directed by Aaron Benham, with choreography by Steven Spanopoulos. Brian Rooney leads the cast of the Marvin Hamlisch tuner as J.J. Hunsecker, with David Schlumpf as Sidney and Victoria Blade as Susan. Nathan Gardner (name sound familiar?) will co-star as Dallas, with Christina Hall as Rita and a talented ensemble of thirteen.

The huge Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire will be mounting the legendary musical "Cabaret" after the holidays, for a run from January 15-March 16. David H. Bell is directing, with choreography by Matt Raftery and music direction by Ryan T. Nelson. Starring as Sally Bowles will be Broadway performer Megan Sikora, with Broadway and Marriott veteran Patrick Sarb as Clifford Bradshaw and Stephen Schellhardt as the Emcee. Others in the cast include but are not limited to Annabel Armour, Craig Spidle, Christine Sherrill and Jameson Cooper. Hot time!


From February 1-March 9, Porchlight Music Theatre will be presenting the Fats Waller revue, "Ain't Misbehavin'," and the company has announced that the cast will include Robin DaSilva, Sharriese Hamilton, Donterrio Johnson, Lina Kernan-Wass and Lorenzo Rush, Jr. The 1978 Tony winner will be directed and choreographed by Brenda Didier, with music direction by Jaret Landon. Performances will be at Stage 773 in Lakeview. The joint will be jumping.


Perhaps the most-anticipated musical of our winter season is "Gypsy" at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the next in the series of Stephen Sondheim musicals directed by Gary Griffin to much acclaim. On the boards in CST's Courtyard Theater from February 6-March 23 will be Louise Pitre (the original star of Broadway's "Mamma Mia!") as "Momma" Rose, with co-stars Keith Kupferer as Herbie and Jessica Rush as Louise. Rhett Guter will be Tulsa and Erin Burniston is June. We're also intrigued by the casting of the legendary Barbara Robertson as the hilarious Tessie Tura. Good job, ChiShakes!


And here's an odd item. The Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in Cicero, Illinois is mounting what seems to be the Chicago premiere of the 2010 West End musical "Love Story," based on the classic 1970 film. With a score by Stephen Clark and Howard Goodall, it's listed from February 14-March 1. Interesting. Leave it to Jedlicka!!explore-season/c1bf2

I guess you know by now that "The Sound Of Music" is on TV on Thursday night, December 5. (No, not the Julie Andrews film version that was featured in a traditional sing-along format last weekend at the Music Box Theatre on Southport.) The Carrie Underwood spectacular has become required viewing, for one reason or the other. Let's hope it's great, shall we? And that it turns a whole new generation of kids onto the magic of musicals. It might very well do that! And the companion recording (not the same vocals as will be heard on the broadcast) is out now. Don't be afraid! Just come to Sidetrack to watch it, or miss it at your own peril!


There are two other TV specials that have piqued our interest. The first is "Barbra Streisand: Back To Brooklyn," the tape of the legend's concert in her hometown last year at the new Barclays Center. It aired last weekend on PBS's "Great Performances," and WTTW Channel 11 will repeat it late tonight, at 12:30 am on December 5. It's Barbra! It's her son, Jason Gould! Who's not watching this?


And HBO has what looks to be an extraordinary documentary and performance film, called "Six By Sondheim," which begins to air on Monday, December 9. Directed by James Lapine, the film inclused archival footage, interviews and new performances, and focuses on six songs by the master composer-lyricist. They are "Something's Coming" from "West Side Story," "Being Alive" from "Company" "I'm Still Here" from "Follies," "Send In The Clowns" from "A Little Night Music," "Opening Doors" from "Merrily We Roll Along," and "Sunday" from "Sunday In The Park With George." MANDATORY VIEWING. AND THERE ARE VCRS NOW.

So, in light of all that non-green-red-white-blue-silver-gold cheer, I should break my non-holiday rule and remind you that the fundraiser and concert for Season Of Concern, featuring the recording "Season Of Carols 2013," takes place at the Mercury Theater Chicago on Monday night, December 9. Cory Goodrich and Eugene Dizon and company would very heartily welcome your attendance. 7:00 pm. Everyone will be there who doesn't have a rehearsal!


So take a deep breath, do a little more shopping, eat a sprinkly cookie and sing a showtune or two, won't you? Go to a show or something. And I'm sure I'll see you soon, right? 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...)

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