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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for January 8th, 2014




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

It's tonight! The fourth annual BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards Celebration commences tonight, Wednesday, January 8th, at 8:00 pm at The Call Bar, 1547 W. Bryn Mawr in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood. I hope you can join us! We'll be there till midnight, handing out certificates to the winners of the 36 categories, as voted on by YOU, the readers of BroadwayWorld Chicago, the Mosh Pit peeps, my besties. It's a 21 and over establishment (sorry, young readers), but it's free to attend, with no drink minimum. And you get your truly, plus The Call's hostess Ashley Morgan, the nicest bartenders in town and showtune videos from VJ Michael Hogan. And speeches! We love acceptances speeches. Especially from people who just found out they won! We didn't announce the winners ahead of time this year. And I guarantee you excitement. Grab your showgoing pals and head on over. We're there till midnight! If this doesn't get you out of the house on a winter evening, I don't know what will....

HERE's the original announcement of all the nominees!

And leave it to Broadway In Chicago to move us into 2014 showgoing mode with two big openings. First up is "Ghost," the national tour of the short-lived 2012 Broadway musical (it originated in the UK in 2011, and of course is based on the popular 1990 film). This is a non-Equity tour, and because of transportation-related weather issues it did not perform at our Oriental Theatre last night as scheduled. But we are told that everything is going on tonight as planned, with a two-week run through January 19, 2014. (Ticketholders for last night should exchange them before Monday, the 13th.) Chicago native Carla R. Stewart plays psychic Oda Mae Brown. Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics is one of the writers. Matthew Warchus directs.

Speaking of originating in the UK..., you made have heard of a little show called "The Phantom Of The Opera." Now in its 27th unbelievable year on Broadway, the Andrew Lloyd Webber romantic pop opera is about to be the biggest thing on a Chicago stage this winter. Beginning tomorrow night, January 9, and running through March 2nd at the Cadillac Palace Theatre is a tour of an entirely different staging of the show from the Hal Prince version we've seen since the late 1980s. Still featuring most of Maria Bjornson's legendary costumes, the show has otherwise been entirely reimagined by producer Cameron Mackintosh, first for a UK tour and now touring the US. Chicago is the first major stop. Direction is by Laurence Connor, with choreography by Scott Ambler. Cooper Grodin and Jay Lusteck, formerly seen at Light Opera Works, are in the ensemble. Ben Jacoby and Linda Balgord, seen one year ago in "Now And Forever: The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber" at the Marriott Theatre, are Raoul and Madame Giry. Mark Campbell and Julia Rose Udine are The Phantom and Christine Daae. It's here, people.

The POTO tour opened in Providence, Rhode Island, which is where the tour of "Wicked" (which graced us for most of the fall) is right now. And that tour has announced that Evanston's Tim Kazurinsky (seen here in such shows as "Hairspray" at the Drury Lane Theatre) will be joining the cast in February as The Wizard himself. The "Saturday Night Live" and "The Second City" alum will join cast members we saw (including Alison Luff as Elphaba) in the ongoing tour of the Broadway behemoth, and Nessarose understudy Jenny Florkowski is being promoted into that role full time. We didn't get to see Gina Beck as Glinda or Alison Fraser as Madame Morrible, and many friends of the Mosh Pit will be sad to hear that we didn't see the tour's new Fiyero, Nick Adams, either. Ah, well. If this tour runs as long as previous tours of POTO did, it will be back here soon enough, and who knows who'll be in the cast!


If downtown, big budget (and big price-tag) shows aren't your bag, head out to the far south Beverly neighborhood on Saturday night, January 11, for the Beverly Arts Center's "BAC To Broadway," a cabaret show that is the first in the center's line-up of shows for the first half of 2014. 111th and Western is the spot to hear Michael Mejia, Ryan Westwood, Megan Kearney, Don Abbott, Ricky Harris, Tim Stompanato, Warren Jackson and Frazee in an evening celebrating all things showtune. Shows are at 7:30 and 10:00 pm, and tickets are $20.


The first professional Chicago production of Marvin Hamlisch's "Sweet Smell Of Success" in almost eight years starts performances at Theater Wit this Friday, January 10, courtesy of Kokandy Productions. Running till February 2, the John D. Glover-directed production stars Brian Rooney as J.J. Hunsecker, with David Schlumpf as Sidney, Victoria Blade as Susan, Nathan Gardner as Dallas and Christina Hall as Rita. Steven Spanapoulos choreographs, and Aaron Benham handles the music direction.

Starting next week is "Nunsense" at the Fox Valley Repertory out in St. Charles, performing at the Pheasant Run Resort. Brigitte Ditmars directs and choreographs, with music direction by Jeffrey Poindexter. Kicking it up in Dan Goggin's original story of the Little Sisters of Hoboken will be Missy Aguilar, Jane Brewer, Kristine Burdi, Patti Roeder and Monica Szaflik. Performance dates are January 16-March 9.


Three times next week you can see and hear actor Michael Kingston in his new cabaret show marking a certain birthday, "50Whatever/ Singin'Whatever." The place is Davenport's Cabaret in Wicker Park, and the dates are Monday the 13th, Thursday the 16th and Saturday the 18th. Music direction is by Nick Sula. Also at Davenport's is Justin Hayford in "Let's Do It: Cole Porter In Love And Lust," a benefit for the AIDS Legal Council Of Chicago (Sundays, January 19 and 26).

If you are fan of "Jersey Boys," perhaps you will permit me a look into February, when the Paramount Theatre in Aurora will present The Midtown Men for Valentine's Day. Four of the stars of "Jersey Boys" on Broadway, Tony winner Christian Hoff, J. Robert Spencer, Daniel Reichard and Michael Longoria, began singing additional songs of the 1960s in 2007, and they'll be doing just that in two concerts on February 14. I know there are some groupies out there who will love this news!


And last, things are cooking at Circle Theatre! The company has announced a world premiere musical, written and performed by actors including Kyle Blair, Jennifer Bludgen, Heidi Buyck, Marina Dee, Sean Driscoll, Veronica Garza, Erika Lecaj, Nick Roesler and Elizabeth Schwarzrock. It's called "At The End Of The Road," and it's January 23-26 at the Madison Street Theatre in Oak Park. Nicholas Reinhart directs, with music direction by Jen Bludgen. And there's more from the company, too, including exciting productions and training opportunities! I've have the low-down skinny next week. Good work, you guys!

So, come out from under your blankets and come to the Celebration tonight! I'll see you under the video screens, as soon as you get there.....-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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