THE NUTTY PROFESSOR Company Members Pay Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch

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Marvin Hamlisch, whose latest work for the musical theater is on display in Nashville in the Broadway-bound production of The Nutty Professor, died in Los Angeles yesterday after a brief illness, according a family spokesperson. Survived by his wife, Terre, Hamlisch was 68 years old.

One of only eleven individuals to win the Emmy Award, he Grammy Award, the Oscar and the Tony Award, Hamlisch is one of only two individuals-the other being Richard Rodgers-to win all of those honors, along with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Winning the Pulitzer for A Chorus Line (after a lengthy career as an arranger and pianist on Broadway), he followed up that success with scores for They're Playing Our Song, The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell of Success.

While accolades and remembrances of Hamlisch, the composer, conductor, man and friend, continue to pour in from around the world, perhaps nowhere today is his loss felt more deeply than in the corridors and performance spaces of Nashville's Tennessee Performing Arts Center, where his latest work-The Nutty Professor-is on view for audiences prior to the show's supposed transfer to New York City. Opening on July 24, for a week of preview performances, The Nutty Professor's official opening night was just one week ago, followed by glowing reviews from audiences and critics alike.

Hamlisch, one of only eleven EGOT winners in the history of the entertainment industry, was awarded three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globe awards for his work. On Broadway, he wrote the music for A Chorus Line-which received the Pulitzer Prize-as well as They're Playing Our Song, The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell of Success.

An official response to Hamlisch's death from the company of The Nutty Professor (which includes director Jerry Lewis, upon whose 1963 film comedy the musical is based, librettist Rupert Holmes, choreographer JoAnn M. Hunter, executive producer Ned McLeod and producer Mac Pirkle) is not expected until Wednesday.

Tonight, in TPAC's James K. Polk Theatre, Michael Andrew, Marissa McGowan, Mark Jacoby, KLea Blackhurst, Jamie Ross and the rest of the ensemble will take to the stage to bring The Nutty Professor to life once more for a Nashville audience. Today, however, the company has been quietly reflective, taking to social media to express their shock and grief at the loss of their show's composer…

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Michael Andrew (who plays Professor Julius Kelp and Buddy Love): Marvin was very proud of the songs he and Rupert Holmes wrote for The Nutty Professor. I was with Marvin and Jerry when they first met about Nutty in Las Vegas; it was a meeting I'll never forget. The two men told some stories and then shook hands; I knew Marvin was on board.

There were many other meetings and sessions over the past five years where Mavin held court and shared his brilliance. I was in awe of his sharp wit and musical genius. I am so proud to be singing these songs that Marvin and Rupert created for us. Tonight will be bittersweet as we all think about Marvin as we perform some of his most treasured masterpieces.

Stephen Kummer (conductor): Perhaps the greatest thing about this business is the rare opportunity to meet people that you've admired, get to know them and then find that they are as nice and energetic and brilliant as you had hoped. This [The Nutty Professor] has been one of those experiences.

Alex David (ensemble/Purple Pit pianist): Tonight is a special night of remembrance for The Nutty family. As the curtain rises and the orchestra blares the brilliance of Marvin's sensational last creation, as the ensemble come together with voices high and spirits loud, as tears can't help but come to the surface of our proud smiling faces, we will know in our hearts that Marvin is with us. A man who could create a song during our lunch break, a man who was so complimentary and strived for me to achieve excellence, I will never forget what he taught me. May your excellence live on for all those young performers, like myself, to be inspired and create singularly sensational productions. We love you.

Kristopher Thompson Bolden (ensemble): It's a sad, sad day for the Nutty Professor family and the music world. Marivin Hamlisch has given us all so much...he was a true class act! It has been an esteemed pleasure working with him on his latest project. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. His work will live on forever! 

Meghan Glogower (ensemble): I absolutely have no words. Marvin Hamlisch, we will miss you and I hope we do you proud tonight.

THE NUTTY PROFESSOR Company Members Pay Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch

Marissa McGowan (Stella Purdy): Marvin Hamlisch touched us all and inspired us with his beautiful music. I feel so blessed that I got to work with him and that I get to go on stage tonight and sing his beautiful songs. Thank you, Marvin, for believing in me and giving me a chance. You will be sorely missed. 

Sarah Marie Jenkins (ensemble): So sad and grateful today. Thank you for allowing me to sing your music, Marvin. Rest in peace.

Allison Little (swing): My heart is heavy and sad with the passing of Marvin Hamlisch today. He was a true legend and talent that will never be forgotten. I feel very blessed to be a part of one of his most recent creative works. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Hamlisch family. You will be very missed Marvin.

Mac Pirkle (producer): A sad day in music. It was a privilege to have known him and an incredible joy to have been part of his work on The Nutty Professor. My heartfelt sympathies to his family. 

Charles MacEachern (ensemble): I remember first auditioning for Marvin in 2007 at Triple Sensation in Vancouver. Even though I was cut right away, he shook my hand with the parting words, "You are very strong." It's wild that almost six years later, I would have the chance to sing one of his beautiful scores in The Nutty Professor. Feel so lucky for that. He was pure genius.

Blair Goldberg (ensemble): Marvin, the cast and entire team of The Nutty Professor loves you and we will do all we can to make you proud. 

Dominique Plaisant (ensemble): Such an honor to have worked with Marvin, and to have the pleasure of singing his music in The Nutty Professor. Much love to his family at this time.

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KLea Blackhurst (Miss Lemon): I am deeply saddened by the news of Marvin Hamlisch passing away today. He was a genuine character, the real deal. The Nutty Professor has some transcendent moments and a terrific score! I think the world will be delighted when they hear what Marvin has been up to...I have been elated during this experience-a real dream come true. Watching Marvin work with orchestrator Larry Hochman to get it out of his head and into a score, watching Marvin be the only person in the room not moving with the music because he's concentrating so hard...watching a genius at work. "While I Still Have The Time" will be the big takeaway hit from The Nutty Professor. How perfect. My love and gratitude to Rupert Holmes for putting a beautiful lyric to Marvin's giant melody. "Stop and savor each drop of time..." Done.

Carly Blake Sebouhian (ensemble): I feel very fortunate to be working on Marvin Hamlisch's last show, The Nutty Professor. What a beautiful score he wrote for us! We will do him proud, performing this wonderful piece in his honor tonight, and hopefully for many more nights to come. He will be missed.

Ronnie Nelson (Norm Brodkowski): Thank you Marvin Hamlisch for giving us your music to perform. A true genius and a legend. You will be missed greatly. Tonight, we get to bring your songs to the public and we are all better for having known you and heard your beautiful melodies.

Kyle Vaughn (ensemble): Thanks for letting me dance to your music and sing your melodies, Marvin. "Nobody does it better." Rest in peace.

Jason Sparks (swing): We will be playing your song tonight, Marvin. Thank you for sharing your genius with the world!

Danny Young (drummer): Still so hard to believe...tonight is for you Marvin! You will be in the hearts of every one of us on stage.

Ryan Worsing (Chad Winslow): Saddened by the passing of the great Marvin Hamlisch. Not just a great talent, but a great man. Proud and honored to share his music tonight.

 

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.