|Lesley Gore's role as protegee to Batman's|
Catwoman required a song. Hamlisch provided
|Marvin's first stage gig was as accompanist/straight man|
for Groucho's one-man show.
He seemed at home on the classical stage (he entered the Julliard school of music at the ripe age of 7) but made his lasting contributions in the world of pop, and of course, that monster contribution A Chorus Line.
|The night I saw A Chorus Line's original production on Broadway remains one of the most thrilling I've spent in the theatre. A fuzzy but powerful clip from the night they swept the Tony Awards appeared on the Dance Party here.|
|Marvin's first pop hit, "Sunshine, Lollipops, and|
Rainbows," provided Lesley Gore a song for the
bus ride to a Ski Party.
Hamlisch had a stage charisma which most composers do not share, though he was willing to fade into the background when necessary.
|This recording has become so iconically|
connected to its singer, you can't really enjoy
anyone else's version. It's one of those songs
which immediately brings to mind
He conducted high-profile concerts and tours with the likes of Johnny Mathis and Linda Ronstadt; his friendship with Barbra Streisand dated back to her Funny Girl days, when he was the rehearsal pianist for the Broadway production. Decades later, she trusted him to conduct and arrange her hugely successful comeback tour, which broke records all over the country. He rescued the legacy of little-known ragtime composer Scott Joplin by adapting his music to the score of The Sting, as a result of which that long-forgotten musician landed at the top of the Billboard charts (with "The Entertainer").
|Marvin had a big night at the Oscars in 1973.|
Marvin won an Oscar in that bargain, and the same night in 1973, became a triple winner when his work on the film The Way We Were was also recognized.
|Marvin adapted "Pachelbel's Canon" |
for his hauntingly lonesome score
to Ordinary People.
|This smash was the first James Bond theme|
song which differed from the actual film's title.
The show was Marvin's stage follow-up to the massive hit A Chorus Line, and concerned the ups-and-downs in the romance of a composer and lyricist.
|The Goodbye Girl provided another star turn for|
another gent known primarily for comedy,
Martin Short. Despite Bernadette Peters in the cast,
the show had a very short life.
But the focus most assuredly is on the two leads (there are no big production numbers), and with a book by Neil Simon, the show had a lengthy run of over 1000 performances.
|A recent reunion of our stars. Marvin's pop|
musical provided Robert Klein with a Tony nod, but
Lucie Arnaz was ignored for her Broadway debut.
It's original cast, seen in this week's Dance Party clip, included Robert Klein, who was primarily known at the time as a stand-up comic, and Lucie Arnaz, who was primarily known at the time as the daughter of famous people. Klein was nominated for a Tony for this performance, Arnaz was not. The clip, presented on the 1979 Tony Awards, is a bit blurry, but is a good reflection of the style of the show. Before ever seeing clips of They're Playing Our Song (and I've NEVER seen a full production), I owned the Broadway Cast Album, and could swear Lucie was being dubbed by Helen Reddy, their sound is so similar.
|An attempt to turn the indie flick Smile into a musical|
Marvin Hamlisch's score, by the way, must have been catnip to various producers and recording execs at the time, as there are cast albums from the London, Australian, and Argentinian productions available as well as the original.
Hamlisch had more than a few misfires on stage, including Jean Seberg, a musical about you know who, The Goodbye Girl, an adaptation of the hit film, and The Sweet Smell of Success, which provided John Lithgow a Tony in 2002 but which failed at the box office. At the time of his death last week, his latest project was opening in Tennessee, a musical adaptation of The Nutty Professor, directed by the original film's star, Jerry Lewis.
|The Nutty Professor, the Musical, opened last week in Tennessee. There was a strong review from the local paper, but Marvin Hamlisch's unexpected death puts the show's professional future in some doubt.|
|Marvin's determination that "What I Did|
For Love" remain in A Chorus Line
was spot on.
This week's Dance Party, the title song from They're Playing Our Song, does not carry such a universal message. It's really about the egotism of the artist, which Hamlisch also knew a little something about.