On Saturday, October 18, Fred Barton, his 13-piece orchestra and star studded cast of Broadway performers will be back to celebrate yet another show-stopping composer. On this occasion our audience will be treated to the jazzy, big-band melodies of Cy Coleman. Coleman was known to Broadway audiences as one of the last, truly great composers of big-band style musicals. Let’s take a further look into the life and career of this extraordinary composer.
A native New Yorker, Coleman was born June 14, 1929 as Seymour Kaufman to Eastern European Jewish parents. By the time he was six years old, it was evident that Seymour was a child prodigy at playing the piano. Between the ages of six and nine, the young musician was being booked in venues such as Steinway Hall, Town Hall and even Carnegie Hall. In his late teens, he had become a very much in-demand club performer, by the name of Cy Coleman, along with his jazz trio, the Cy Coleman trio. After enjoying recording success with his trio, Coleman looked towards a career in writing popular music. He partnered with lyricist, Carolyn Leigh and produced standards such as, “Witchcraft,” “The Best Is Yet to Come,” and “I’m Gonna Laugh You Out of My Life,” among others. It was also during this time, that Coleman would score the “Playboy” theme music, forever becoming associated with the famous periodical’s television productions.
In 1962, Leigh and Coleman were approached to write the score for a new Broadway musical that would become a vehicle for star, Lucille Ball. A mild success, Wild Cat closed early due to the illness of its star. However, it did produce the hit song, “Hey, Look Me Over,” which was later recycled into the fighting song for LSU, “Hey, Fighting Tigers.” The success of the show’s score prompted producers to approach the team to write a musical based on the Patrick Dennis novel, Little Me. With Little Me, Coleman and Leigh were able to introduce two new standards to the American songbook, “Real Live Girl” and “I’ve Got Your Number.”
Although highly successful, Coleman’s collaboration with Leigh was often described as, “turmoil.” In 1964, he began to look for new writing partners. While at a party, Coleman met Dorothy Fields and she was more than flattered when she was asked to collaborate with him. The two started work on a musical version of the Fellini film Nights of Cabiria. The contemporary score proved to be one of his biggest hits, Sweet Charity. With the help of Tony-winning choreography by Bob Fosse, the song, “Big Spender,” became a break out hit along with classics like, “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” and “I’m a Brass Band.” The show’s massive success loomed like a shadow over the duo’s partnership, however. Fields only wrote two more shows with Coleman before her death in 1974, a failed bio-musical about Eleanor Roosevelt and Seesaw, which would go on to mild success in the hands of Tommy Tune.
After the death of Fields, Coleman jumped around to different partners. He joined with Michael Stewart, who had found success with shows such as Bye, Bye Birdie and Hello Dolly to create a much less loved musical, I love My Wife. He then joined fabled lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green to collaborate on the hit, On the Twentieth Century for which he won the Tony award for best original score. Coleman went on through the 1980’s and early 90’s finding success with shows such as Barnum, The Will Rogers Follies (Tony winner for best score) and The Life, although, he may be best remembered for his score to the hit 1989 musical, City of Angels, based on 1940’s film noir. The score signaled a return to his jazz roots and was a huge commercial success that won him another two Tony awards for best score and musical.
On top of his four Tony wins, Coleman was nominated nineteen times over his career. He also took home three Emmy awards as well as, two Grammy awards. He is also known for his scores to films such as, Father Goose, The Art of Love, Garbo Talks, Power, and Family Business. On November 18, 2004, Coleman died of cardiac arrest at the age of 75. Besides leaving behind an incredible music legacy, he was survived by his wife Shelby Coleman and their daughter, Lily Cye Coleman. Coleman’s music has been recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Liza Minnelli and Lena Horne. This fall, a new revival of On the Twentieth Century will play the Roundabout, starring Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher. Coleman will always be remembered for his incredible show-stopping style. Be sure to come out this Saturday and help us honor the memory of this legendary composer.
See you at the Schimmel
American Showstoppers: An Evening of CyColeman; Featuring the Fred Barton Orchestra; Saturday, October 18th at 7:30pm; Ticket Prices $49 | $39 | $29; Host, Producer, Arranger: Fred Barton (Cy Coleman’s CITY OF ANGELS, THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, and LAWYERS, LOVERS & LUNATICS); Director-Choreographer: Scott Thompson (ONE FOR MY BABY workshop); StarringKevin Earley (DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, LES MISERABLES), Deidre Goodwin (CHICAGO – Broadway and film – A CHORUS LINE, NINE), Sam Harris (Cy Coleman’s THE LIFE – Tony nomination, GREASE – Drama Desk nomination, THE PRODUCERS), Tari Kelly (ANYTHING GOES, THE BOY FROM OZ, SHOW BOAT), Damon Kirsche (ONE FOR MY BABY workshop, Encores’ ZIEGFELD FOLLIES OF 1936, Encores’ STRIKE UP THE BAND, Encores’ ON A CLEAR DAY), Karen Murphy (A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, 9 TO 5, 42ND STREET, ALL SHOOK UP, TITANIC), Lindsay Roginski (CHICAGO, ONE FOR MY BABY workshop), Leslie Stevens (LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, VICTOR VICTORIA, BIG), Terri White (Cy Coleman’s BARNUM, Cy Coleman’s WELCOME TO THE CLUB, FOLLIES, CHICAGO, FINIAN’S RAINBOW); Featuring Hannah DeFlumeri, AJ Hunsucker, Jesse Luttrell and THE SCOTT THOMPSON DANCERS: Beau Hutchings, Barrett Davis, Nic Thompson, Jeff Legace, Eric Rivas, Bobby Mira and Evan Campbell
Call (212) 346-1715 or visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/938512 for tickets