Music Director and Pianist

If you are looking for a Music Director and/or Pianist, review my experience below, and contact me if you’d like to talk!

During the past decade, I have had the honor of being involved in many musical directing and piano opportunities, both professional and academic, in the Chicago area, including:

  • Musical Director for the world premiere professional musical, “Burnham’s Dream: The White City,” presented at Theatre Wit and honoring the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.
  • 2017-19, Keyboard Accompanist for fall musicals at Chicago’s Kelly High School. (Alan Menken’s “A Christmas Carol,” “All Shook Up” and “Cyrano De BurgerShack”)
  • Spring 2017, Keyboard 2 for “Seussical” at Winnetka’s North Shore Country Day School,
  • Fall 2016, Piano Accompanist for the Chicago Symphony Chorus’ popular video version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” supporting the World Series champion Chicago Cubs!
  • 2016, Musical Director for “Bye Bye Birdie” at Montini Catholic High School in suburban Lombard.
  • July 2015, Musical Director and Pianist in Three Oaks, Michigan, for Harbor Country Opera’s presentation of “The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables in Concert,” an evening of excerpts from the world’s most popular stage musicals.
  • Fall 2014, ensemble member and musical director of the Improvised Sondheim Project, improvising musicals in the style of Stephen Sondheim in open run and in festivals at venues like The Second City, iO Chicago, Stage 773 and MCL Chicago, and at improv festivals in Chicago, New York (2015-17) and Cincinnati.
  • 2010 musical director and accompanist for the world premiere of the sketch musical “four play,” by Jamie Campbell and Amanda Murphy, at Chicago’s Studio BE.
  • Substituted as pianist in sketch comedy venues like The Second City and Stage 773, accompanied choirs at the Noble Street Charter School in Chicago, and accompanied Kelly High School musicians at the IHSA Solo & Ensemble competition.
  • 2011-2012, musical director, conductor and keyboard player for the musicals “Gypsy” and “Rent,” presented by Dominican University in its Lund Auditorium in River Forest, Illinois.
  • 2011-2012, accompanist for the Auditions class (THEA 398) and Musical Theatre class (THEA 382) taught by Krista Hansen, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts, at Dominican University .
  • 2012, musical director, conductor and keyboard player for the world premiere children’s musical “Off to Olympus,” by two-time Richard Rodgers Award winner Dave Hudson and composer Mark Sutton-Smith, presented by The Actors Garden at Dominican University.
  • July – August of 2016, Acting Director of Music at Chicago’s St. James Cathedral (Episcopal), selecting and arranging musical selections, accompanying services and conducting the part-professional choir.


Track Recordings

If you need song recordings for virtual performances, practice tracks, or any reason, I can record these tracks with your specific direction – tempo, audition cuts, emphasis on particular lines.
Pricing: $20 per track
paul on the keys
Paul at the Baldwin
Paul at the CSO looking out at empty seats before a performance
Paul at the CSO before a performance

At the organ and piano, I played at special worship services at St. James Cathedral, Holy Name (Roman Catholic) Cathedral and at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows. I was named Cathedral Carillonneur at St. James in 2000, where for 14 years I played the historic James Carter Memorial Chime on Sunday mornings. I played organ-chime duets with noted organists Peter Richard Conte and Douglas Cleveland. I have played piano for wedding receptions, cocktail parties and corporate events throughout my  career.

Early in my career, I was musical director or assistant musical director (including work as conductor, keyboardist, violinist, vocal coach and rehearsal pianist) for a number of professional productions of musicals at theaters in the Midwest, South and East:  “The Pirates of Penzance,” “Carousel,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” “South Pacific,” “Damn Yankees,” “The Sound of Music,” “Gypsy,” “Camelot,” ”Fiddler on the Roof,” “Mame,” “Two by Two,” “Godspell,” ”I Love My Wife,” “They’re Playing Our Song,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” ‘Guys and Dolls” and “My One and Only” at Bucks County, Enchanted Hills, Pocono, Falmouth and Woodstock Playhouses , Naples and Clock Tower Dinner Theatres and Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma.

I studied piano for ten years with my mother, Fay Jennings Thompson, Assistant Professor of Music at the Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville, Tennessee. I first gained accompanying experience at my high school, and for the collegiate show choir, “Baylor Showtime!,” as part of undergraduate piano studies . At the University of Miami, I was the improvisatory accompanist for Edward Rozinsky’s Movement I classes (DRA 113-114) and for students in the voice studio of Dr. Lorene Buffington. In Evanston, Illinois, I accompanied in the private voice studio of Kurt R. Hansen (1988-89).

The Jennings Trio (Paul’s grandparents, Oliver and Alma Jennings, and his mother, Fay Jennings Thompson), Nashville, 1949