Program 3

Marvin Hamlisch

(Born June 2, 1944 in New York City;

died August 6, 2012 in Los Angeles)

Marvin Hamlisch was born into a musical family in New York on June 2, 1944 and showed such precocious musical talent that he was accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College Division at age six, the youngest student ever admitted to the program. He studied at Juilliard for the next fifteen years but earned his undergraduate degree at Queens College in 1967. Though Hamlisch was trained primarily in classical piano, his real passion was popular and theater music, and he was working as rehearsal pianist for Barbra Streisand’s smash Broadway hit Funny Girl, writing Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows and other successful songs, and arranging and playing for the long-running TV musical show The Bell Telephone Hour while still a student at Queens College. He got his first movie job when producer Sam Spiegel heard him play at a New York party in 1968 and hired him on the spot to write the score for The Swimmer, starring Burt Lancaster. Hamlisch went on to write for some 45 high-profile Hollywood features (including Sophie’s Choice; Ordinary People; Ice Castles; Take the Money and Run; The Spy Who Loved Me; Same Time, Next Year; Save the Tiger; and The Informant), receiving unprecedented recognition in 1973 as the first composer (and the only person other than legendary screen director Billy Wilder in 1960) to win three Oscars in one year, for both the score and title song from The Way We Were, and for the adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music in The Sting (also the year’s Best Picture); he went on to receive nine additional Academy Award nominations, three Golden Globe Awards and four Grammys for his film work.
Hamlisch created a sensation on Broadway in 1975 with his first musical, A Chorus Line, which won nine Tonys (including Best Musical and Best Score), five Drama Desk Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; it ran for a record-shattering 6,137 performances on Broadway, was produced on five continents, and made into an Oscar-winning film by director Richard Attenborough in 1985. Hamlisch enjoyed another Broadway success in 1979 with They’re Playing Our Song, and later wrote six other musicals, the last of which was an adaptation of Jerry Lewis’ 1963 film The Nutty Professor, which premiered in Nashville in July 2012.
Hamlisch was a gifted conductor and pianist who appeared with such celebrated artists as Groucho Marx, Linda Ronstadt and his life-long friend Barbra Streisand, most notably for her 1994 international tour and television special, Barbra Streisand: The Concert, for which he received two Emmys, making Hamlisch the only person beside Richard Rodgers to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony and Pulitzer Prize. He also held positions as Principal Pops Conductor with the major orchestras of Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Dallas, Pasadena, Seattle, San Diego, Buffalo and Washington, D.C.
When Marvin Hamlisch died in Los Angeles on August 6, 2012 after a brief illness, Barbra Streisand praised “his brilliantly quick mind, his generosity and delicious sense of humor” and Aretha Franklin called him “a classic and one of a kind.” Both sang his songs at a memorial service in New York on September 18th, and Streisand performed The Way We Were at the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony in his memory. On August 8th, two days after Hamlisch’s death, the marquee lights of all forty Broadway theaters were dimmed for one minute in his honor, a traditional tribute to one who has made a significant contribution to the theater arts.

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Director Frank Perry’s The Swimmer (1968) was based on John Cheever’s unsettling, surreal 1964 short story of the same name about a man (played by Burt Lancaster) in an affluent Connecticut suburb who is first seen, unexplained, running through a forest in swim trunks (Lancaster’s only wardrobe for the entire film). He emerges into the backyard of friends sitting by their swimming pool and announces that he will “swim home” across the county in the pools of other friends along the way. The bits of his past that are revealed as he makes his way seem to indicate that he is living in a strange, dislocated, almost hallucinatory state in which the comfortable family life he believes he leads has been shattered. His painful quest ends when he arrives at his old house in a raging thunderstorm only to find it dark, locked and deserted. The score for The Swimmer, Hamlisch’s first movie work (producer Sam Spiegel gave the 24-year-old composer the job after hearing him play piano at a New York cocktail party), captures the story’s poignancy and dream-like quality.
Hamlisch wrote Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows for pop vocalist Lesley Gore’s 1963 album Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts. The song was used two years later in the teen film Ski Party, in which Gore turns up singing the song on a bus to the slopes amid the machinations of 1960s heartthrobs Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman to learn about dating girls by dressing up as two of them and infiltrating their ranks, a plot device handled with rather more aplomb in Billy Wilder’s classic 1959 Some Like It Hot. Gore’s 1965 recording was released as a single and made it to No. 19 on the Billboard charts.
Arthur Laurents based his screenplay for The Way We Were on his introduction to political activism while a student at Cornell in the late 1930s by a young co-ed named Katie Morosky. For the 1973 film directed by Sydney Pollack, Laurents developed the idea into a story, unfolded over three decades, in which Katie (played by Barbra Streisand) falls in love with the rather glib and politically uncommitted Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford). They marry and have a daughter, but later divorce because of their incompatible background and temperaments. They meet again in the film’s final scene and realize that all they can now share is memories. Streisand was nominated for an Oscar for her role in The Way We Were and Marvin Hamlisch won Grammy, Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Song and an Oscar for Best Score. Streisand’s recording was on the Billboard charts for 23 weeks, and was named by that publication as “The No. 1 Pop Hit of 1974.”

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Suite from West Side Story

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Arranged by Jack Mason (1906-1965)

Composed in 1957; arranged in 1958.
Broadway opening on September 26, 1957.

Leonard Bernstein, a native of Boston, had a productive fascination with New York City for much of his career. Beside being linked with that city’s major orchestra for many years as conductor and music director, the great metropolis also served as the inspiration for several of his original stage compositions — the ballet Fancy Free (1944), the musicals On the Town (1944) and Wonderful Town (1952), the score for Elia Kazan’s film On the Waterfront (1954) and the epochal West Side Story. The idea for West Side Story was suggested to Bernstein as early as 1949 by the choreographer Jerome Robbins, who envisioned a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet set in New York City. Bernstein was fascinated with the idea, but he could not find time to work on the project until the middle 1950s, beginning composition as soon as he had finished the brilliant score for the operetta/musical Candide. Stephen Sondheim, in his Broadway debut, supplied the lyrics, Arthur Laurents wrote the book and Robbins staged the show, which was finally completed in 1957. After try-outs in Washington and Philadelphia, West Side Story was unveiled on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on September 26th and ran for almost two years. After a ten-month road tour, it returned to New York and closed on April 27, 1960 after a total of 732 Broadway performances. It was made into a film in 1961 that swept ten Oscars, including Best Picture, and has since entered into the pantheon of the American theater as one of the greatest musicals ever created.
West Side Story was one of the first musicals to explore a serious subject with wide social implications. More than just the story of the tragic lives of ordinary people in a small, grubby section of New York, it was concerned with urban violence, juvenile delinquency, clan hatred and young love. The show was criticized as harshly realistic by some who advocated an entirely escapist function for the musical, depicting things that were not appropriately shown on the Broadway stage. Most, however, recognized that it expanded the scope of the musical through references both to classical literature (Romeo and Juliet) and to the pressing problems of modern society. Brooks Atkinson, the distinguished critic of The New York Times, noted in his book Broadway that West Side Story was “a harsh ballad of the city, taut, nervous and flaring, the melodies choked apprehensively, the rhythms wild, swift and deadly.” Much of the show’s electric atmosphere was generated by its brilliant dance sequences, for which Jerome Robbins won the 1957-1958 Tony Award for choreography. “The dance movements not only epitomize the tensions, the brutality, bravado, and venomous hatred of the gang warriors but also had sufficient variety in themselves to hold audiences spellbound,” wrote Abe Laufe in Broadway’s Greatest Musicals. West Side Story, like a very few other musicals — Show Boat, Oklahoma, Pal Joey, A Chorus Line, Sunday in the Park with George, Rent — provides more than just an evening’s pleasant diversion. It is a work that gave an entirely new vision and direction to the American musical theater.

In the story, Riff, leader of the Jets, an “American” street gang, determines to challenge Bernardo, head of the rival Sharks, a group of young Puerto Ricans, to a rumble. Riff asks Tony, his best friend and a co-founder of the Jets, to help. Tony has been growing away from the gang, and he senses better things in his future, but agrees. The Jets and the Sharks meet that night at a dance in the gym, where Tony falls in love at first sight with Maria, Bernardo’s sister, recently arrived from Puerto Rico. Later that night, Tony meets Maria on the fire escape of her apartment. The next day, Tony visits Maria at the bridal shop where she works, and they enact a touching wedding ceremony. Tony promises Maria he will try to stop the rumble, but is unsuccessful and becomes involved in the fighting. He kills Bernardo. Maria learns that Tony has slain her brother. Tony comes to her apartment, but she cannot send him away, and they long for a place free from prejudice. Tony leaves and hides in Doc’s drugstore. Maria convinces Anita, Bernardo’s girl, of her love for Tony, and Anita agrees to tell Tony that the Sharks intend to hunt him down. She is so fiercely taunted by the Jets at the drugstore, however, that she spitefully tells Tony that Maria has been killed. Tony numbly wanders the streets and meets Maria. At the moment they embrace, he is shot dead. The Jets and the Sharks appear from the shadows, drawn together by the tragedy. They carry off the body of Tony, followed by Maria.

This arrangement of selections from West Side Story — I Feel Pretty, Maria, Something’s Coming, Tonight, One Hand, One Heart, Cool and America — is by Jack Mason, whose Broadway credits included Can-Can, Fanny, My Fair Lady, Pipe Dream, Me and Juliet and Wonderful Town.

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Hamlisch and Barbra Streisand began their lifelong friendship and collaboration when he was the rehearsal pianist for her 1964 Broadway hit, Funny Girl. Hamlisch served as arranger and conductor for Streisand’s international tour, her first in thirty years, that began in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve 1993 and ended in Anaheim the following July, with stops in London, Washington, Detroit, San Jose and New York; the 266,000 tickets for the 26 shows sold out in one hour. Hamlisch teamed with lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman to write the inspirational ballad Ordinary Miracles for the tour. Barbra: The Concert was recorded live at New York’s Madison Square Garden, broadcast on HBO to an audience of eleven million (and winning five Emmys, including two for Hamlisch), and went triple platinum in Columbia’s two-CD release.

They’re Playing Our Song was the theatrical analogue of the romantic affair in which composer Marvin Hamlisch and lyricist Carole Bayer Sager were involved in the late 1970s. They developed the show in 1978 around a book by Emmy, Tony, Golden Globe and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Neil Simon concerning a composer (Victor) and a lyricist (Sonia) whose awkward initial meetings grow into artistic collaboration and true affection. (Their affair broke off soon thereafter, and Sager married composer-pianist Burt Bacharach in 1982.) They’re Playing Our Song, starring Robert Klein and Lucie Arnaz (daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz), had a brief tryout at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in December 1978 before opening a run of 1,082 performances at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway on February 11, 1979. The show received four Tony nominations and enjoyed a successful national tour and London production the following year. If You Really Knew Me is shared by Victor and Sonia early in their relationship as they both imagine forging a deeper understanding. The show’s title number occurs when composer and lyricist respond enthusiastically to a performance of their hit song during a date at a nightclub.

Overture from Oklahoma!

Richard Rodgers (1902-1979)

At the beginning of World War II, Oscar Hammerstein II was among the most successful and respected Broadway and Hollywood writers, famed for his books and lyrics for Rose-Marie, The Desert Song, Show Boat and two dozen other productions. Richard Rodgers had long collaborated with lyricist Lorenz Hart to create some of the most tuneful and sophisticated songs ever heard on the American stage and screen — Mountain Greenery, My Romance, With a Song in My Heart, My Funny Valentine, Bewitched and scores of others. By 1942, however, Hammerstein had gone for some time without a hit (a Hollywood producer bought out a contract with him for a four-picture deal rather than take a chance on continued flops) and Rodgers found himself without a lyricist when chronic drinking and failing health forced Larry Hart to give up work. It was just at that time that the Theatre Guild of New York, which since 1919 had been producing American dramas and, occasionally, musicals (including Porgy & Bess in 1935), suggested to Rodgers that he consider writing a show based on Lynn Riggs’ play Green Grow the Lilacs, which the Guild had staged in 1931. The composer was excited by the project, but realized that he would be unable to count on Hart to provide the libretto, so he contacted Hammerstein to inquire if he would be interested in collaborating on the venture. Hammerstein knew the play (he once tried, without success, to talk Jerome Kern into writing music for it), and he thought that it would provide excellent material for musical treatment. He agreed, and the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein was born.

Dick Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein had been friends for years — they had collaborated on four songs for a Varsity Show at Columbia University in 1919 — but the Green Grow the Lilacs project (tentatively titled Away We Go) was the first time they had worked together professionally. They started on the musical in August 1942, balancing their creative work with casting and production decisions and soliciting financial backers. Money was not easy to find, since the show had all the earmarks of a disaster: balletic dance sequences (by Agnes de Mille) replaced the chorus line of the traditional musical; realism and character development replaced farce; an unconventional folk-inspired story replaced an elegant or exotic setting; and there were no stars in the cast. The first tryouts, in New Haven in early March 1943, flopped. “No Girls, No Gags, No Chance,” one critic wired to his New York paper. Drastic revisions were undertaken and a new title devised — Oklahoma! — and the performances in Boston later that month drew rave reviews. The show’s Broadway opening, on March 31, 1943 at the St. James Theatre, was a triumph, with critics and audiences united in their praise: “a jubilant and enchanting musical” … “fresh and imaginative” … “musical and visual delight” … “one of the finest musical scores any play ever had.” Oklahoma! ran for the next five years and nine months — 2,212 performances — a record eclipsed on Broadway only by My Fair Lady fifteen years later. The show toured North America, Scandinavia, Australia, England and South Africa as extensively as wartime conditions allowed; a special company performed it in remote military camps in the Pacific. The album of the score, the first ever recorded in its entirety by the original cast, sold over a million copies; sales of the printed sheet music matched that number. The show was filmed in the then-new Todd-AO process in 1955 (starring Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones), and given major New York revivals in 1951, 1969, 1979 and 2001. With Oklahoma!, the American musical comedy reached its artistic maturity, as the noted American writer David Ewen noted: “More than any other single musical before it, even Show Boat, Oklahoma! made the musical play an established institution in the American musical theater that would grow and develop in scope in ensuing years.”

Overture from Gypsy

Jule Styne (1905-1994)

Jule Styne was one of those talented creators who helped burnish the golden age of Hollywood and Broadway. Born Julius Stein in London in 1905, he learned piano from his parents, and was so precocious as a performer that he appeared as soloist with the orchestras of Chicago and Detroit within two years of the family’s move to America when he was nine. The Steins settled in Chicago, and young Julius studied briefly at the Chicago College of Music, but the lure of popular music proved stronger than that of the conservatory, and by the 1920s, he was playing piano in his own jazz and dance band at Chicago’s Bismark Hotel and trying his hand at song writing; he had his first hit in 1926 with Sunday. For the next decade he worked as a pianist, vocal coach and arranger for 20th Century Fox in Hollywood, and then was hired as a composer by Republic Pictures and, later, Paramount. In 1938, he started writing songs (as the metamorphosed Jule Styne) with lyricists Frank Loesser and Sammy Cahn for screen musicals, and three years later received his first Oscar nomination for Who Am I? from Hit Parade of 1941. Styne was one of Hollywood’s most successful song writers during the next dozen years, contributing to some twenty features and receiving six more Academy Award nominations, including the World War II hit I’ll Walk Alone; his film career was capped by the 1954 Oscar for Best Song, Three Coins in the Fountain. Styne ventured onto Broadway with High Button Shoes in 1947, and spent the rest of his career composing several of the most memorable shows of the American musical theater: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), Peter Pan (1954), Bells Are Ringing (1956), Gypsy (1959), Do Re Mi (1960), Funny Girl (1964), Hallelujah, Baby! (1967) and Sugar (1972). Jule Styne died in New York on September 20, 1994, but his songs and shows live on as part of the great tradition of American popular music.

Gypsy, with music by Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents, was loosely based on the 1957 memoir of the famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, though the story’s central character is her domineering mother, Rose, portrayed in a Tony-nominated performance in the original production by Broadway legend Ethel Merman. The show opened at the Broadway Theatre on May 21, 1959 and ran for 702 performances, toured nationally, was made into an Oscar-nominated film in 1962, given four major Broadway revivals and countless international productions, and is today regarded as an iconic work of the American musical theater. Its score, whose songs are not only memorable in their own right but also sharply illuminate the story and characters, includes such well-known numbers as Let Me Entertain You, Everything’s Coming Up Roses, Some People, Together, Wherever We Go and Small World.

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The Champ, director Franco Zeffirelli’s 1979 remake of the eponymous 1931 Oscar-winning film directed by King Vidor, tells of a boxing champion (Jon Voight) who gives up the ring when his son (the nine-year-old Ricky Schroder, who won a Golden Globe for his role) is born to live frugally but contentedly as a horse trainer in Florida. As the boy grows up, “The Champ,” as his son calls him, determines to make a better life for the boy by trying for a comeback in boxing. Hamlisch partnered with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager to write If You Remember Me for the film.

A Chorus Line is, indeed, One Singular Sensation: the longest-running, American-produced Broadway show (May 21, 1975–April 28, 1990, 6,137 performances; it employed more than 250 actors, sold 6.6 million tickets and grossed $149 million; only The Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Les Misérables have played longer on Broadway); winner of nine Tony Awards (including Best Musical and Best Score), five Drama Desk Awards, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; a Gold Record Award for Columbia’s original cast recording; international productions on five continents; a Broadway revival in 2006 that ran for nearly two years. A Chorus Line originated with a series of taped workshops organized in January 1974 by Michon Peacock and Tony Stevens at which several of their fellow Broadway dancers shared experiences about their lives, auditions and shows. Dancer, director and choreographer Michael Bennett (Promises, Promises; Coco; Company; Follies) was invited to join the group at first as an observer, but he soon saw the theatrical potential in the dancers’ stories “to do something on the stage that would show people being honest with one another,” and brought in novelist and playwright James Kirkwood, Jr. and dancer and writer Nicholas Dante to create a book for a musical, Edward Kleban to write the lyrics, and Marvin Hamlisch (fresh off winning three Oscars on the same evening) to compose the music. A Chorus Line, produced by Joseph Papp and the New York Shakespeare Festival, opened Off-Broadway at The Public Theater on May 21, 1975 (“the reception was shattering,” reported Clive Barnes in The New York Times) and transferred to the Shubert Theatre two months later. The rest, as the publicists say, is history.

Nothing recollects a painful high school acting class experience. What I Did for Love is an anthem about people who shape their lives around their passion.

So In Love from Kiss Me, Kate

I Am Loved from Out of This World

Cole Porter

Kiss Me, Kate, Cole Porter’s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, opened at the New Century Theatre in New York on December 30, 1948 and played for 1,077 performances; it won five Tonys, including Best Music, Best Script and Best Original Score, and became Porter’s greatest Broadway success. The story, whose tempestuous relationships parallel those in Shakespeare’s original, concerns a troupe of actors presenting the play whose producer, director and leading man (Fred) has recently divorced the female star (Lilli). Fred has been romancing the show’s ingénue in the meantime and mistakenly sends a bouquet of flowers intended for the young girl to Lilli. Lilli sings of her rekindled feelings for her ex-husband in So In Love.

Porter’s Out of This World, based on Plautus’ ancient farce Amphitryon, opened on Broadway on December 21, 1950 to tepid reviews and limited audience response despite its risqué subject matter and fine performances, and closed after just 157 performances. The plot shows how the Roman god Jupiter descends to the mortal world and, much to the annoyance of his long-suffering wife, Juno, attempts a dalliance with the lovely (and recently married) Helen. While Jupiter is undertaking his amorous machinations, Helen sings I Am Loved to her new husband.

©2013 Dr. Richard E. Rodda

August Symphony Series performance location

Door Community Auditorium - Fish Creek 

The Peninsula Music Festival - 10347 Highway 42

Unit B Green Gables Shops 

P.O. Box 340, Ephraim, Wisconsin  54211

email: musicfestival@musicfestival.com

Phone: (920) 854-4060