'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for January 18th, 2012
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:
You may recall that, in last week’s Mosh Pit, I discussed the casting of the upcoming film version of “Les Miserables.” Well, there’s one part of the story that I left out. One Chicagoan has a very special role in this film. It’s a story that some of you already know, but that to my knowledge hasn’t been told to the world at large--before now. Jeff Award-winning Chicago musical director and vocal coach Roberta Duchak is coaching Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe on his songs for the film, and has been doing so since last summer!
I had the pleasure of speaking to Roberta by phone this past Monday. She couldn’t meet with me at Columbia College Chicago, where she teaches, or at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, where she frequently musical directs (“Ragtime” and “Sweeney Todd” are just two of her extensive number of credits there). Why isn’t she in Chicago, you ask? Because she is New Orleans for a few weeks, teaching “Stars” to a star. Ever since last summer, when Crowe was living in Naperville, working on a certain superhero film in the Plano area, she has been paid by the “Les Miz” film itself, not Crowe, to get him in tip-top shape to play and sing the role of Inspector Javert in the highly anticipated film. She was with him for his audition for the role in New York (also in the room were stage producer Cameron Mackintosh and composer Claude-Michel Schonberg), and she has spent time with him in Los Angeles, Vancouver and (for three weeks in December) in Australia. She told me that he loves to sing (he comes from a rock background), he has improved and seen his hard work pay off, and that “Old Man River” from “Show Boat” is his favorite warm-up song! Sometimes they work every day. Sometimes they don’t. He loves it. So does she. And you just never know what life will bring, do you?
She confirmed reports I’ve read that the cast will have a six-week rehearsal period, commencing in mid-February, and that shooting will last until July, with mid-December as the targeted release date. It is true that the cast will be singing live while the cameras roll. But she told me that one aspect of the film that has been widely reported very recently is in fact not true! Stay tuned to your favorite media outlets for future developments. Seriously. And in the meantime, let’s all wish Russell and Roberta the best, and get just a wee bit jealous. But why shouldn’t she be doing this? I’m sure that the whole cast will have vocal coaches. Why not one of the best, our own Roberta Duchak? What an opportunity. Congratulations!
Speaking of movies, a new musical (of sorts) has opened, “Joyful Noise,” starring “Chicago” star Queen Latifah and “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas” star (and “9 To 5” composer) Dolly Parton. Co-starring in this tale of a choir competition is one Jeremy Jordan, as Parton’s grandson. Who is Jeremy Jordan, you may ask? I think there have been two other young singer-actors with the same name lately, but this one is on a particularly high trajectory of late. Not only is he in this mixed-review movie, but he is starring in not one but two Broadway musicals this season! He was Clyde Barrow in the short-lived Frank Wildhorn show “Bonnie And Clyde” (it closed December 31), and he will open in March as the lead in the Alan Menken film-to-stage adaptation of “Newsies!” He’s been working on quite a number of projects in the past few years (including the development of both of these shows), and has been on Broadway and on tour in other shows. But this amount of visibility in such a short time is pretty fascinating. Not bad. Not bad at all! And his online resume lists “head twitching and ear wiggling.” Might be time to update that website.
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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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