'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for April 13th, 2011
THE LATEST IN UNAUTHORIZED GOSSIP AND BUZZ
FROM THE HEART OF CHICAGO'S SHOWTUNE VIDEO BARS,
AND MUSICAL THEATER NEWS FROM CHICAGO TO BROADWAY
by Paul W. Thompson
Overheard last weekend under the showtune
video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:
Well, we're not sure if it's done, but it's opened! "White Noise," the cautionary, neo-Nazi musical produced in part by Whoopi Goldberg and directed in his directorial debut by choreographer Sergio Trujillo ("Jersey Boys," "Next To Normal" and "The Addams Family") is up and running on the mainstage at the Royal George Theatre on Halsted Street (down the hallway from "Dixie's Tupperware Party," if you're looking for a contrast). It sounds like it's a great idea, with great songs and a talented cast and still some work to be done on the book and the overall tone of the piece. Nothing wrong with musicals about the recording industry, either, especially when they have original scores and unique ideas. But is this one too hard to get right? Or does the creative team now know what they have to do before the show can be announced for the Great White Way (pun entirely intended)? Only time will tell. Have you seen this, though? (You have until June 5, 2011.) Folks are weighing in, to be sure.
WHITE NOISE | Chicago Is About To Rock In A Hard Place
The other big event of last weekend was a concert production of a well-known music-theater work by some of the biggest names in the field, performed by a top-notch orchestra and a legendary conductor and some guest artists that people may be talking about around Chicago for years. Nope, I'm not talking about Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Giuseppe Verdi and Arrigo Boito's "Otello" at Orchestra Hall (though all those things are true). Rather, I'm talking about Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's "Company," by the New York Philharmonic at New York's Avery Fisher Hall, conducted by Paul Gemignani and starring Neil Patrick Harris as Bobby. The concert was filmed for release to movie theaters and, one assumes, DVD release, etc., so that the Showtune Mosh Pit can rock for years with clips from this production (directed by Lonny Price, of course). You know that the supporting cast included such names as Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Anika Noni Rose, Chicago's very own Martha Plimpton, last year's Tony winner Katie Finneran, and one Miss Patti LuPone as Joanne, right? (How many times is she going to sing "The Ladies Who Lunch" at Lincoln Center? I'd like to see the two film clips side by side...by side.) Even if the original cast of "Company" (Dean Jones, Elaine Stritch, Beth Howland, etc.) has yet to be equaled, and was captured by D. A. Pennebaker in his legendary documentary of the cast album recording sessions, this new version is sure to have its champions. Can't wait! And when is the last time we had a top-notch production of this show in Chicago...?
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Past Articles by This Author:
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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