'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for September 12th, 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:
The 1970s are alive and well in Chicagoland’s theaters! And a big hit (in Chicago and on Broadway) during that decade was “Grease,” a show that was originally written and set here, premiered here, and then went on to be altered and embraced, and further altered and even more strongly embraced, before that decade was over. After several more decades of changes (and never being far from our audiences here), Jim Jacobs and WarRen Casey’s ode to their high school days at the Northwest Side’s Taft High is back in a big way, at the enormous Paramount Theatre in Aurora. The show opens this weekend, after three previews today and tomorrow, and runs through October 7, 2012, only. That’s the bad thing about shows at the Paramount--they just don’t hang around that long! But the good news is that’s everything there is big--the cast, the orchestra and the opulence. New Jersey’s Michael Unger (a former Chicagoan) directs, with choreography by Dana Salimando. Reprising their pairing from Paramount’s “Hair,” Skylar Adams and Adrian Aguilar head the cast of 24. First Folio Theatre’s Michael O’Keefe conducts.
“Godspell” is being resurrected, er, revived, too, by the Brown Paper Box Co., beginning September 20 and running through that same October 7th. It will be in Wicker Park/Bucktown, in the Collaboraction Studio 300 in the Flat Iron Arts Building. M. William Panek directs, with choreography by the very busy dancer Daniel Spagnuolo and music direction by Katie Colby. Stephen Schwartz’s musical about Jesus and his followers stars Andrew Lund, Jake Mahler, Jeanne T. Arrigo, Pavi Proczko and more. They beseech us to hear them.
Not to be left out, the other 1971 New York musical about Jesus and his followers (both of which were revived on Broadway this past season, by the way) is also coming to a local stage this month. Of course, I’m talking about Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” courtesy of the Big Noise Theatre Company, heading to the Prairie Lakes Theatre in Northwest Suburban Des Plaines (it’s playing weekends from September 28-October 21). Jonathan Lee Cunningham stars as JCSuperstar himself, with Roy Brown, Lauren Paris, Mike Weaver, Tommy Bullington and a full cast conducted by Robert Deason. The director? Well, her work on the Theatre At The Center production of this very same show in 2010 won two BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards. She is the very busy Stacey Flaster, who just directed Jonathan Lee Cunningham in TATC’s “Little Shop Of Horrors.” Small world, isn’t it? Everything’s alright!
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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