The Music of Cy Coleman returns to the NYC stage

By on May 12, 2011

The first approved dramatico-musical revue of Cy Coleman songs, “The Best
Is Yet To Come: The Music of Cy Coleman” makes its NYC Off-Broadway debut
at the 59E59th Theater, with a first preview May 18th running through July
3rd. Official opening night is May 25th.

The production features Broadway stars: David Burnham, Sally Hayes, Howard
McGillan, Billy Stritch, Lillias White and Rachel York.

Cy’s frequent collaborator, lyricist David Zippel, conceived the revue and
is directing. Grammy-winner Billy Stritch has arranged the music and will
lead an eight-piece swing band with orchestrations by Tony-winner Don
Sebesky. The show will star Tony winner Lillias White, multiple Tony
nominee Howard McGillin, Drama Desk winner Rachel York, multiple Tony
nominee Sally Mayes and LA actor and recording artist David Burnham. The
costumes will be designed by 5 time Tony Winner William Ivey Long, with a
set by multiple Tony nominee Douglas Schmidt, and lighting by Broadway
designer Michael Gilliam.

Cy Coleman wrote the final page in the Great American Songbook, the last
great composer to work in the tradition perpetrated byIrving Berlin, the
Gershwins, Cole. Composer of “Witchcraft” and Sweet Charity and one of the
most honored musicians of his generation, he was the recipient of three
Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and an Academy Award
nomination. During a professional career that spanned eight decades, he
distinguished himself as a concert pianist, jazz bandleader, pop
songwriter, and Broadway composer.

Born Seymour Kaufman on June 14, 1929, in New York City, he was, like many
of the towering writers of his generation, the son of Eastern European
immigrants. As a child in the Bronx, he showed uncanny musical ability:
After his mother, a landlady, received a piano from a tenant as
compensation for unpaid rent, he began picking out songs on the keyboard
by ear. He gave his first classical recital at Carnegie Hall at the
prodigious age of seven.

Educated at the High School for the Performing Arts and New York College
of Music, Coleman (who changed his name at 16) began fronting a trio that
attained popularity on New York’s jazz hub, 52nd Street. He recorded
prolifically as a leader over the years, and one custom-crafted
instrumental composition, “The Playboy Theme,” saw a long life on Playboy
magazine editor-publisher Hugh Hefner’s late-night TV shows.

In the early ‘50s, Coleman took his melodic facility and great rhythmic
gifts to pop songwriting. He first teamed with lyricist Joseph A.
McCarthy; the partnership resulted in such standards-to-be as “Why Try to
Change Me Now” (recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1955) and “I’m Gonna Laugh
You Right Out of My Life” (a hit for Nat King Cole in 1957).

Coleman’s most fruitful collaboration in the pop field – and one that
would lead him to Broadway – was with lyricist Carolyn Leigh. During the
‘50s, the duo collaborated on such hits as “Witchcraft” (a signature tune
for Frank Sinatra), “Firefly” (a top 20 entry in 1958 for Tony Bennett),
and “The Best is Yet to Come” (successfully recorded by both Bennett and
Sinatra).

In 1960, he took to writing for the Broadway stage and never looked back.
Coleman’s Broadway career reached an historically unprecedented zenith
when a pair of his shows received successive Tony Awards for both best
musical and best musical score: the film noir-driven City of Angels (1989,
written with David Zippel) and the biographical The Will Rogers Follies
(1991, penned with Comden and Green). Coleman picked up best score awards
for both shows.

The last of the 11 Broadway musicals produced during Coleman’s lifetime
premiered in 1997: The Life, a gritty look at the demimonde of
prostitution in New York’s Times Square of the ‘70s. With lyrics by Ira
Gasman, the show garnered eight Tony nominations and wins for performers
Lillias White and Chuck Cooper.

DaveHHM

Author: DaveHHM

Dave Luttrull: Owner/Editor in Chief of Hellhound Music. Star Wars nerd, Gamer, Destiny homer, blogger, writer and lover of all things music.

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