Matthew Sklar on Marvin Hamlisch- 'Really grateful to have known him'
Devastated to hear about the loss of Marvin Hamlisch. Met him on my 15th birthday. He was giving a benefit concert at the Union County Arts Center, where I was active in community theatre. Spent that day volunteering backstage and helping the staff organize programs just in the hope of meeting Marvin. Someone tipped him off about me and the next thing I knew he had marched out to the lobby to meet me. He said, "I hear you play the piano and write songs. Why don't you come up on stage and show me?" For the next 20 minutes I got to play for him. Some of his songs, some of mine. Then he said, "Wanna be in the show tonight? You can play for me and I'll pretend I'm Sinatra." He wanted it to be a surprise for my parents. So that evening, I waited for my cue, snuck backstage, Marvin gave me a hilarious introduction, and we performed a song from "They're Playing Our Song" together. It was the best.
From that night, we stayed in contact. He gave me advice, put me in touch with people who he thought might help, and even wrote my college recommendation letters. Every time I saw him he was kind, generous, and always asked how my parents were doing.
Really grateful to have known him. It's a sad day.
Sklar was nominated for the 2006 Tony Award for Best Original Score for the musical The Wedding Singer for which he wrote the music and Chad Beguelin wrote the lyrics. He also composed the music for the Broadway musical hit Elf which broke box office records five of the nine weeks of its limited engagement at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2010-2011. Matthew co-produced the original Broadway cast albums for both shows. He has been a pianist, conductor, and dance music arranger for many productions including Shrek, 42nd Street, Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, Nine and Caroline, or Change.