'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for October 10th, 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:
It’s Jeff Award time again! Chicago’s twice yearly award fest holds its Equity Wing awards ceremony this coming Monday night, October 15, 2012, at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook. Productions opening between August 1, 2011 and July 31, 2012 and deemed “Jeff Recommended” were eligible to be nominated, and it’s a distinguished list, indeed. Based on the sheer amount of publicity and buzz, one would think that last fall’s “Follies” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier (already the winner of four BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards last December) would be the leader among the Large Musical shows, and that the Goodman Theatre’s “The Iceman Cometh” (starring the not-nominated Nathan Lane) would have The Edge among the Large Play contenders. But there are so many good productions and artists on the list, so you never know. “Eastland,” anyone? “Angels In America?” “Break a leg” to all the nominees, and we’ll see you all at the afterparties!
Speaking of Stephen Sondheim musicals at Chicago Shakes that were directed by Gary Griffin, the current production of “Sunday In The Park With George” must really be something. I cannot remember the last time a show got “Highly Recommended” from the first 11 reviews posted on the Theatre In Chicago website. Critic after observer after reviewer after blogger have been falling over themselves to find the right way to express their effusive praise for Griffin’s direction, the performances of Carmen Cusack and Jason Danieley and others, for Mike Tutaj’s projections and for the work itself. It only runs through November 4, and who knows if there are any tickets left! But the Mosh Pit has been telling you about this highly anticipated production for a while now, so you have no excuse if you wind up standing about some evening, wondering why you’re not witnessing a legend in the making. “Move On” to Navy Pier, won’t you? And tell me on a “Sunday” what you thought, won’t you?
You only have two more weekends to see a different kind of show, the play with music called “Hoodoo Love,” now playing in Studio Three at the Athenaeum Theatre on Southport Avenue, written by Katori Hall and directed for the Collective Theatre Company by Nelsan Ellis, one of the stars of the HBO-TV series “True Blood” (he plays Lafayette). It’s about a Mississippi blues singer in Memphis, and stars Opal Demetria Staples and Mark Smith. A three-piece band provides the musical interludes and episodes. This is the Chicago premiere of this 2007 play, and it’s capturing some national attention here. If this is your thing, this play’s the thing!
You only have one weekend left to catch “Operetta’s Greatest Hits,” a concert-cum-composer revue devised by Micheal Kotze and Roger Bingaman for Light Opera Works, and presented at the Music Institute Of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. Six singers, four of whom have extensive musical theater credits, waltz and drink champagne and evoke a by-gone era, accompanied by a four-piece onstage orchestra, while introducing us to the greatest hits by stage composers from Vienna, Paris, London and New York, circa 1880-1930. If the names of Emmerich Kalman, Franz Lehar, Victor Herbert and Sigmund Romberg don’t ring a bell with you, rest assured that some of these lyrics are by our own Oscar Hammerstein II, and that you do indeed know songs like “Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life,” “Lover, Come Back To Me,” “Indian Love Call,” and “Adele’s Laughing Song.” Your favorite composers from Broadway’s Golden Age knew these songs, too. This look back into the roots of the modern musical theater runs through October 14 only, with a cast that includes George Andrew Wolff, James Rank, Colette Todd, Natalie Ford, Alicia Berneche and Matthew Giebel.
WICKED vs. THE BOOK OF MORMON for Best Revival of a Play and More...
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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