Review: New Hamlisch tribute has intimate feel – Kevin Cole’s “Play it Again, Marvin!”

“A new Hamlisch tribute put together by pianist and frequent collaborator Kevin Cole debuted June 28 at Heinz Hall. The new show might be the most beautiful and moving portrait yet of the man and his music. It also was very well performed by Cole, vocalists Brian d’Arcy James, Sylvia McNair, conductor J. Ernest Green and the Pittsburgh Symphony.”

 

Photo by: Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review Late American composer Marvin Hamlisch as photographed at Heinz Hall in Downtown Pittsburgh in October 2011. Hamlisch is one of only two people to win Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, and the Pulitzer Prize for his work as a composer. He also won two Golden Globes. Hamlisch died Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, after a brief illness.

Photo by: Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Late American composer Marvin Hamlisch as photographed at Heinz Hall in Downtown Pittsburgh in October 2011. Hamlisch is one of only two people to win Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, and the Pulitzer Prize for his work as a composer. He also won two Golden Globes. Hamlisch died Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, after a brief illness.

Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, PA – Spectacularly honored in life, composer and entertainer Marvin Hamlisch has been the subject of innumerable tributes in concert and on television since his death in August 2012. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presented a terrific tribute concert in January 2013 to its principal pops conductor of 17 years.Play it again Marvin PSO 6-28-2014

A new Hamlisch tribute put together by pianist and frequent collaborator Kevin Cole debuted June 28 at Heinz Hall. While it will benefit from tweaking, the new show might be the most beautiful and moving portrait yet of the man and his music. It also was very well performed by Cole, vocalists Brian d’Arcy James, Sylvia McNair, conductor J. Ernest Green and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

The concert opened with “A Chorus Line” Concerto, a new piece written by Cole that is a virtuoso romp through the great numbers of Hamlisch’s most famous show, starting with “One.” Hamlisch loved Cole’s pianism. One of the many wonderful photos that give this show its special character showed Hamlisch and Cole playing George Gershwin’s music for their pleasure at two pianos onstage at Heinz Hall after a Pops concert.

PLAY IT AGAIN MARVIN - pso

The program proceeded mainly chronologically, and included boyhood photos and home movies of the composer with his parents, sister and friends, as well as a song from a school show he wrote as a teenager.

The show featured many great songs that show Hamlisch’s immense abilities, including a beautiful McNair performance of “Dreamers,” a wonderful song from the short-lived 1983 show “Jean Seberg,” and the themes from “The Swimmer” and “The Sting,” which, as Cole notes, launched a rediscovery of ragtime composer Scott Joplin.

The first half concluded with “A Mother’s Voice” with images of Hamlisch with his mother Lilly and a family film of her.

The second half featured two songs from “Sweet Smell of Success,” Hamlisch’s serious show that had the bad timing to open after 9/11. They were strongly performed by James, who starred in it. McNair then sang “Through the Eyes of Love” from “Ice Castles.”

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Source: Mark Kanny Critic for Trib Total Media


 

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