‘The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman’ By Sandi Durell
There have been numerous musical child prodigies and Cy Coleman (nee Seymour Kaufman) is one of them. He eventually made his mark on Broadway, in jazz and pop music and composed music with numerous well known lyricists including Comden and Green, the Bergmans, Dorothy Fields, Carolyn Leigh, Ira Gasman, Michael Stewart and David Zippel. As director Zippel says, “Cy Coleman changed my life.” He changed many lives and, luckily, audiences are in for the treat of their lives at 59E59 Theaters with an “A” list cast headed by musical director/arranger/conductor Billy Stritch.
The songs range from full cast, to duets and solos featuring sleek, sexy looking Rachel York (City of Angels, Victor/Victoria/Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), fervent, loveable Sally Mayes (She Loves Me, Urban Cowboy, Closer Than Ever), a sassy, very animated Lillias White (The Life, Fela, Dreamgirls) and the men, soaring Howard McGillin (The Phantom of the Opera, Secret Garden, Anything Goes) and charming David Burnham (Wicked, The Light in the Piazza). Billy Stritch leads an 8 piece orchestra and is also on vocals, and always a pleasure to hear his jazz touches.
The revue is a slick-looking rendering offering up some of the tried and true Cy Coleman tunes as in the title, in addition to “Don’t Ask a Lady” (White); “Come Summer” (York); “It Amazes Me” (Stritch); a cast Money Medley featuring some nice staging and witty selections like “Five Zeroes” (On the Twentieth Century), Big Spender” (Sweet Charity), “Never Enough” (N – professional premier). With the grand piano in a pit and just the top half showing, it becomes a wonderful scenic accessory to sit on, stand on and lie on, cleverly directed by Zippel, scenically designed by Douglas W. Schmidt and choreographed by Lorin Lattaro.
White, starting off with a big afro wig, finally takes it off as she wails through “Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like” (The Will Rogers Follies), paired with a brassy ‘The Oldest Profession” (The Life). McGillin touches the soul with “I’d Give The World” (N), and Burnham does a fine Sinatra take off on “Witchcraft,” while Mayes resounds passionately “With Every Breath I Take.” If you’re wondering where the more familiar Cy Coleman numbers are, don’t fret, you’ll also hear “Hey Look Me Over,” “You Can Always Count on Me” and “On The Other Side of the Tracks.”
The songs speak volumes, the performances are joyful. You have until July 3rd to partake in this celebration. 59E59 Theaters 212 279-4200
Photo: Carol Rosegg