In January, a Gala Celebration of Cy Coleman’s Musicals
by Bill Rudman, TMTP artistic director
Composer Cy Coleman (1929-2004) — one of Broadway’s greatest — didn’t marry until he was 69. When his wife Shelby, asked him why, he said “It wouldn’t have been fair to the woman. Music was my mistress.”
We are the beneficiaries of Coleman’s single-minded passion for his art. The Musical Theater Project and Cleveland Jazz Orchestra (CJO) will make sure you feel it at our concert “Hey, Big Spender! The Cy Coleman Songbook,” presented at the Hanna Theatre on January 28 and 29 (see below for details or click HERE for tickets).
It’s our third annual collaboration with CJO, and their artistic director Paul Ferguson, will share co-hosting duties with me. The concert features TMTP favorites Joe Hunter (piano), Bryan Thomas (bass) and Ray Porrello (drums), plus the entire 16-piece CJO ensemble.
Like the TMTP/CJO “Cotton Club” show, this new concert is beautiful to behold — because Cy Coleman is equally important in the worlds of musical theater and jazz.
On Broadway, the man’s career extended from the musical Wildcat (“Hey, Look Me Over!”) in 1960 all the way through The Life in 1997. He was born to be a musical dramatist — a man who relished telling stories with songs — and his music attracted two o Broadway’s finest lyricists, Carolyn Leigh and Dorothy Fields.
But he was also born to be a jazz musician. Before he had even turned 20, the Bronx-born Coleman had become a popular nightclub pianist, leading a trio that added hip luster to Manhattan’s cabaret scene.
“Cy was always an outstanding pianist, and his singing was the icing on the cake,” says Paul. “As a jazz man, he brought extra elements of harmonic and melodic sophistication to his songs in a manner that makes me think of Cole Porter. His techniques are subtle but ingenious. If you assume ‘The Best Is Yet to Come’ is an easy swinger, just try singing it!”
Our concert will take you on a tour of Coleman’s Broadway shows, which include the hit musicals Sweet Charity, Barnum and City of Angels. Paul and his fellow arrangers will paint with all the vibrant jazz colors on Coleman’s palette: To quote the title of a hit song from Barnum, “The Colors of My Life.”
As for our two vocalists, they’re living proof that the best songs cut across generations. The 40-something Treva Offutt dazzled audiences at our “Cotton Club” evening, and the 80-something Vince Mastro has been singing Cy Coleman since the early 1960s, when both he and the composer made New York City their home and stage. Mastro, of course, has been a mainstay of TMTP’s Song Is You! series for more than a decade.
We’ll give Paul the last word: “What a pleasure to present Cy’s music to our combined audience!”
Saturday, January 28 | 8 PM
Sunday, January 29 | 2 PM
Hanna Theatre, Playhouse Square
General: $30-$55; TMTP Members: $25-$50
Available through the Playhouse Square Box Office:
Call (216) 241-6000 or visit PlayhouseSquare.org