THE BEST IS YET TO COME: THE MUSIC OF CY COLEMAN With Burnham, Graae, Mayes & More Runs Through 8/2 At Rubicon
Rubicon Theatre Company has announced the cast and creative team for the World Premiere of THE BEST IS YET TO COME: THE MUSIC OF Cy Coleman, which began previews July 9 at Rubicon's intimate 200-seat home at 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District. The show continues Wednesdays through Sundays through August 2, 2009. The official press opening is Sunday, July 19 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., with a "Rat Pack"-themed post-show party with the cast and Coleman family and friends after the evening performance.
Devised and directed by Tony Award-winner David Zippel (City of Angels), The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman is produced by Rubicon Theatre Company and MICHAEL JACKOWITZ in association with David Elzer and Barbara Meister. Title sponsors are Barbara Meister - BARBER AUTOMOTIVE and LORETTA AND MIKE MEREWETHER. Musical Direction is by Billy Stritch; orchestrations are by Don Sebesky; and Lorin Latarro serves as Choreographer. Performances are Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Due to strong presale, Sunday evenings at 7:00 p.m. have been added for the latter part of the run with special pricing for groups of 12 or more. For tickets, go to www.rubicontheatre.org., or call (805) 667-2900 to charge by phone.
In a career spanning seven decades, Cy Coleman created a glittering string of pop standards made famous by the likes of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. He also wrote literally hundreds of hits for the musical theatre, which were performed in shows including City of Angels, Sweet Charity, Barnum, The Life, Little Me and Will Rogers Follies.
The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman is an elegant evening of songs performed by a stellar cast, including David Burnham (The Light in the Piazza and Wicked on Broadway), Jason Graae (Grand Night for Singing, Falsettos and Forever Plaid on and off Broadway), Sally Mayes (She Loves Me at Roundabout and Urban Cowboy in New York), Julia Murney (Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway), Billy Stritch (42nd Street, Liza Minelli's Musical Director) and Lillias White (The Life, Dreamgirls on Broadway). Both Mayes and White made their Broadway debuts in Coleman shows. These powerhouse vocalists are backed by an onstage eight-piece swing band.
"The structure of the show is similar to that of The World Goes 'Round or Starting Here, Starting Now," says Zippel. The show has no dialogue but has connective staging. It uses the personality of the performers and the sequence of the songs to create a context for each number and continuity."
"For instance," continues Zippel, "the opening number is ‘The Best is Yet to Come' in which each performer enters trying to top the prior one. ‘Come the day you're mine,' refers to the audience. In addition to highlights from Coleman's musicals and pop standards (sung as solos and in various combinations by the performers), the show also includes a few surprises - unpublishEd Coleman works, and ends with a ‘megamix' medley of Cy songs we just couldn't live without. The show will run approximately 85 minutes without intermission."
The germination for the piece began when Coleman, Larry Gelbart and Zippel were working together on City of Angels. One evening after a rehearsal, Zippel askEd Coleman why no revue of his works existed. Coleman quipped, "That's for when I'm gone."
Years later, Zippel approachEd Coleman's widow Shelby, and Damon Booth at Notable Music (Coleman's publishing company), about the idea. Although they had been approached many times before, they knew that Zippel and Cy Coleman had been close collaborators and had similar sensibilities. Says Shelby Coleman, "David put together a workshop of about 30 minutes of the show which we attended, and we were astonished and delighted by his vision, and by the caliber of artists he assembled.
We knew this would be a marvelous expression of the many facets of Cy's musical personality: his charm and wit, his romantic optimism (and pessimism), his sense of the ironic, his sass, and his sweetness."
Zippel and Rubicon's Director of New Works Michael Jackowitz and Co-Founder/Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns met socially and the trio began talking over dream projects. (They were put together at a dinner party given by Reprise! Founder and Executive Producer of the Festival of New American Musicals Marcia Seligson). Jackowitz and Zippel met in New York to continue the conversation. Over two seasons, Zippel attended Rubicon productions of Bus Stop, the World Premiere of John Bucchino's It's Only Life, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, She Loves Me and Fiddler on the Roof.
Says Zippel, "I was continually wowed by the work onstage and knew Rubicon would be the perfect, nurturing home for this premiere. Over the past decade, Rubicon has earned a reputation for developing new works. The company is really the perfect size - it is large enough to be able to properly support the work - yet small enough to be flexible and to move swiftly to make the kind of changes that happen naturally in the process of development. "
Zippel worked his magic to assemble a first-rate cast and design team. Says Rubicon's Burns, "When David told us about the show, he had already contacted Tony Award-winner Lillias White and Jason Graae about the project. We were great admirers of David, of Lillias, and of Jason (who had worked with us on Rubicon's High Button Shoes). We were crazy about Cy's music in general and the song list in specific that David had put together. Needless to say, he had us at ‘hello'."
This week (on June 14), Cy Coleman would have been 80-years-old. His birth and life will be celebrated at a "Rat Pack" style party following the official press opening of The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman on Sunday, July 19 at 7:00 p.m. The event will take placed at the Marriott Ventura Beach Hotel. Honorary Hosts for the evening are Shelby Coleman (Cy's Widow) and Damon Booth, President of Notable Music, Cy's Publishing Company. White dinner jackets and cocktail attire suggested.
"Cy Coleman is a permanent gem in Broadway's musical crown", said Clive Barnes in the New York Post. And as a gem is multi-faceted, so was Cy Coleman, the man. He was one of the most versatile and influential craftsmen in the music industry. His successes span not only numerous Broadway shows, but motion pictures, recordings, television and the concert stage. An extended bio on Coleman and photos are attached. For a comprehensive list of all Coleman credits, go to www.cycoleman.com.
MORE ON THE CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM - 32 Tony Awards
The cast and creative team of The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman has 32 Tony Awards between them (see attached for breakdown).
David Burnham just returned to the West Coast from New York where he played Fiyero in the Broadway production of Wicked, having previously created the role in the original L.A. workshops. David was a member of the original Broadway cast of The Light in the Piazza; he received the 2007 Helen Hayes Award for Best Actor and the 2007 Best Actor Garland Award for his portrayal of Fabrizio in the National Tour. David first gained critical acclaim when, after a two-year search, he was chosen to replace Donny Osmond in the National Tour of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Drama-Logue Award). For Boston's North Shore Music Theatre he created the title role in the new musical Tom Jones as well as the role of Billy (opposite Maureen McGovern) in Letters from 'Nam, which he reprised at The Kennedy Center and at Rubicon (where the show was retitled One Red Flower). In Chicago, David originated the role of Charlie in the world premiere of Peggy Sue Got Married, after touring the country as Peter in the National Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar (with Ted Neeley).
David's West Coast credits include the L.A. premiere of The Woman in Black (the Actor) at The Road Theatre Company, John Hinckley in Assassins at Reprise! and Caine in Children of Eden (Robby Award) at Musical Theatre West.
Jason Graae has starred on and off-Broadway in A Grand Night for Singing, Falsettos, Stardust, Snoopy!, Do Black Patent Leather Shows Really Reflect Up?; Forever Plaid; Olympus on My Mind; All in the Timing; Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (Drama Desk Nomination - Best Actor in a Musical) and others.
Jason Made his Metropolitan Opera House debut in Twyla Tharp's Everlast with American Ballet Theatre. He has performed his one-man show all over the country, including Rainbow and Stars, Birdland, Wolf Trap, Feinstein's and The Plush Room. He has received the New York Nightlife Award, four Bistro awards and was listed in TimeOut NY's Top 10 Cabaret shows of 2006.
On the West Coast, Jason just won his second L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award - the 2008 Joel Hirschorn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre. He won an Ovation Award for Forbidden Broadway Y2KLA!, an Artistic Director's Achievement Award for Fully Committed and an Indie for High Button Shoes at Rubicon. Jason originated the role of Houdini in the L.A. production of Ragtime at the Shubert Theatre and has also appeared in L.A. at the Hollywood Bowl, with Reprise!, The Colony and L.A. Opera.
Sally Mayes made her Broadway debut in Cy Coleman's Welcome to the Club. Her performance won her critical praise, along with a Theater World Award and Outer Critics Circle nomination as one of Broadway's Outstanding Newcomers. On Broadway, Sally is best known for her performance in the Roundabout revival of She Loves Me, for which she received Tony®, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations. Sally also received critical acclaim for her role as Aunt Corene in Urban Cowboy (Drama Desk nomination). She recently drew raves as Mae West in the National Tour of Dirty Blonde, and also appeared in the Broadway revival of Steel Magnolias. She has also starred in several Off-Broadway productions, including Closer Than Ever (Outer Critics Circle nomination), Das Barbecue and Pete N' Keely (Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Musical). Sally has been nominated for twelve Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (MAC) awards, and has won two Backstage BISTRO awards for excellence in cabaret and recording.
Julia Murney last appeared on Broadway as Elphaba in Wicked after playing the role on the National Tour, for which she received an Acclaim Award. Other New York credits include Lennon, Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party (Drama Desk nomination), The Vagina Monologues, A Class Act, Saved, Crimes of the Heart, First Lady Suite, and Time and Again (Lucille Lortel nomination). She's been seen regionally all over the U.S. - Williamstown, Reprise!, , Sacramento Music Circus , and Goodspeed to name a few - and in concert she has performed at Joe's Pub, Feinstein's, The Kennedy Center, Town Hall and Birdland as well as with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops.
Billy Stritch is one of the premier singer-pianists on the New York and national jazz and cabaret scene. His most recent nightclub act "Billy Stritch Sings the Mel Tormé Songbook" earned rave reviews from the New York music critics.
Billy has appeared in cabaret venues across the nation as well as concert performances at the London Palladium, NHK Hall in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro's Municipale Auditorium. In New York, he performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and originated the role of Oscar in the 2001 Broadway revival of 42nd Street which starred Christine Ebersole. He and Ebersole have since become a recognized recording and performing team. As songwriter and arranger, Billy's "Does He Love You" was recorded by Reba McEntire and Linda Davis, reaching the number one spot on the Billboard Country chart, winning a Grammy® and selling over five million copies. Billy has also written music for theatre and for The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. He is a frequent collaborator with Liza Minnelli, having most recently overseen the music for her 2009 Tony Award-winning Broadway show Liza's at the Palace. Billy is the winner of the Nashville Music City News Award, a BMI Song of the Year Award, and five awards from the Manhattan Association of Clubs and Cabarets, including top male vocalist of 2007.
Lillias White has been recognized on Broadway with the Tony® Award, Drama Desk Award, People's Choice Award and The Outer Critics Award for Best Actress in a Musical - Broadway's Prestigious Quadruple Crown - for her 1997 role as Sonja in The Life, a role written with her in mind by Cy Coleman. In 1990, Lillias won the Obie Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Hennie in Romance in Hard Times. In addition, she won a Drama-Logue Award for her role in the National Tour of Dreamgirls. Other theatre credits include the Broadway productions of How to Succeed in Business, Once on This Island, Rock n' Roll: The First 5,000 Years (Aretha Franklin), Barnum, Carrie and Dreamgirls, as well as the off Broadway productions of Crowns, The Vagina Monologues, Waiting for Godot, The Princess & The Black-Eyed Pea, and Dinah Was. Lillias has also appeared in national and international tours for Ain't Misbehavin', Tintypes and The Wiz.
THE DIRECTOR, CHOREOGRAPHER AND DESIGNERS
The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman is devised and directed by David Zippel, whose lyrics have earned a Tony® Award, two Academy Award nominations, two Grammy Award nominations, and three Golden Globe Award nominations. His songs appear on over twenty-five million CDs around the world, and have been recorded by many great singers including Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Mel Torme, Ricky Martin, Cleo Laine, Barbara Cook and Nancy LaMott.
David made his Broadway debut with City of Angels (music by Cy Coleman, book by Larry Gelbart), for which he received the Tony® Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award and (in London) the Olivier Award and Evening Standard Award. He also wrote the lyrics to the Broadway musical The Goodbye Girl (music by Marvin Hamlisch, book by Neil Simon) for which he received an Outer Critics Circle nomination. With eight-time Oscar winning composer Alan Menken, he wrote the songs for Disney's feature film "Hercules." Michael Bolton recorded "Go the Distance" from that score, which was a #1 record and nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. With Matthew Wilder, he wrote the songs for "Mulan," which earned him his second Academy Award nomination. "Reflection," from "Mulan," was recorded by Christina Aguilera and is featured on her multi-platinum debut album. Christina and David collaborated again with Todd Chapman to write the song "We're A Miracle," which was featured as the end title song for "Pokemon: The First Movie," and on its #1 soundtrack album. With Mervyn Warren he wrote the end title for the Jennifer Lopez movie "The Wedding Planner." His lyrics for "The Swan Princess," an animated feature with music by Lex de Azevedo, were nominated for a Golden Globe Award. With composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, he wrote the songs for the London and Broadway musical The Woman in White.
David has contributed lyrics to the revues A...My Name Is Alice, Diamonds and, with composer Doug Katsaros, wrote the musical comedy Just So. With Wally Harper he wrote numerous songs for Barbara Cook, including "It's Better With a Band," which became the title song of a hit revue showcasing David's lyrics. "It's Better With a Band," has been presented Off-Broadway, at the Donmar Warehouse in London and at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia. David also worked with Liza Minnelli to write her
Show Liza's at The Palace, which recently received a 2009 Tony® Award.
Orchestrator Don Sebesky is a Tony® Award and Drama Desk Award-winner for Kiss Me Kate. He was nominated for Tony Awards for Cy Coleman's The Life and for Jason Robert Brown's Parade. Other New York credits include Flower Drum Song, Bells Are Ringing, The Boys From Syracuse, The Look of Love, Sinatra at Radio City, Sweet Charity, Porgy and Bess (directed by Trevor Nunn) and Pal Joey.
For the English National Ballet, Don orchestrated Strictly Gershwin. Among his film credits are Nora Ephron's "Julie and Julia" starring Meryl Streep. Don has been nominated for 31 Grammy Awards, winning three. He is also a three-time Emmy nominee.
Juilliard graduate Lorin Latarro, who choreographs The Best is Yet to Come, has also worked with DanceBreak, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, the Juilliard Opera Company and "The David Letterman Show." For the theatre, she choreographed The Cosmopolitan for the NAMT Festival and Jerusalem Syndrome for the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Lorin has been an Associate or Assistant for Kathleen Marshall, Vince Pesce, Chris Ashley and Savion Glover. Lorin's Broadway credits as a performer include Guys and Dolls, Curtains, The Apple Tree and A Chorus Line. Lee Wilkins (Director/Choreographer for European Tour of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber/Choreographer for National Tour of Steel Pier) is Associate Choreographer.
Sets for The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman are designed by Douglas W. Schmidt, who has designed more than 50 Broadway shows and more than 150 productions at regional theatres. In recent years, Doug has been represented on Broadway by the hit revivals of 42nd Street and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods, both of which were nominated for Best Set Design Tony Awards. Doug won New York Drama Desk Awards for his scenic contributions to Broadway productions of Over Here! and Veronica's Room. Other credits include the New York revivals of Into the Woods and Damn Yankees, Sight Unseen, The Civil War, They're Playing Our Song, Romantic Comedy, Smile, the original production of Grease, Frankenstein and Getting Away with Murder.
Doug's work for the theatre also includes award-winning designs for Enemies at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre where he was resident designer for four years; the definitive Richard Foreman/New York Shakespeare Festival production of Threepenny Opera; Andre Serban's Agamemnon, for which he was presented a Joseph Maharam Distinguished Design Award; and an Obie Award winning design for the Chelsea Theatre Company production of The Crazy Locomotive directed by Des MacAnuff.
Known for his expertise as a designer of scale and spectacle, Mr. Schmidt designed Porgy and Bess for Radio City Music Hall. Both Aida starring Luciano Pavarotti and Samson et Dalila with Placido Domingo for the San Francisco Opera were nationally broadcast by HBO and WNET's Great Performances series respectively.
Samson was subsequently revived by the Los Angeles Opera to acclaim. In spring of 2007, Doug made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with settings for Puccini's Il Trittico.
William Ivey Long, Costume Designer, recently designed his 58th Broadway production with Nine To Five. In addition, William currently has Chicago now its 12th year on Broadway, and Happiness at Lincoln Center. Other credits include Pal Joey; Young Frankenstein; Grey Gardens (Tony® Award); Sweet Charity; La Cage Aux Folles (Hewes Award); The Frogs; The Boy From Oz; John Water's Hairspray (Tony®, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Awards); The Producers (Tony®, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Awards); The Music Man; Swing (Hewes Award); Contact (Hewes Award); Cabaret; Steel Pier; Smokey Joe's Café; Madison Square Garden's A Christmas Carol; Guys And Dolls (Drama Desk Award); Crazy For You (Tony®, Outer Critics Circle Awards); Six Degrees Of Separation; Assassins; Lend Me A Tenor (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Awards); Nine (Tony®, Drama Desk, Maharam Awards). Upcoming projects include the American production of Dreamgirls.
William has twelve Tony® Award nominations for his work, and has won five times. He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2005.
Sound Designer JONATHAN BURKE began his career in Hong Kong 18 years ago and has since worked in numerous theatres throughout the U.S. For Rubicon, he has designed Fiddler on the Roof, A Rubicon Family Christmas Concert, Footloose, A Delicate Balance and Man of La Mancha. He is Resident Sound Designer for Cabrillo Music Theatre, a lecturer and Sound Design Supervisor at UCLA's School of Theatre and runs a recording studio in Sherman Oaks. Jonathan's theatre credits include Breaking Up is Hard to Do, The King and I, Singin' in the Rain, Jekyll and Hyde and twelve other shows for Cabrillo Music Theatre; Pest Control and The Thief for Open At The Top/Canum Entertainment; Heroes, You Can't Take it With You, Cookin' at The Cookery, He Hunts and The Weir for the Geffen; as well as work regionally with Pittsburgh's City Theatre Co., Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival and Live!, and Gargarro Productions. Jonathan assisted Dan Moses Schreier on The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagony (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), and Philip Allen on The House of Blue Leaves at the Taper.
Prop Designer for the production T. THERESA SCARANO has a multifaceted career which spans 25 years in varying capacities including tech director and prop designer, as well as set designer and builder. Her most recent work with Rubicon was for Fiddler on the Roof. She has stage managed for California Ballet, Kairos Dancers and currently for Dancing Images Dance Company. Theresa served as both Scenery Warehouse Manager and Prop Master at San Bernardino Civic Light Opera. She is currently director of Premier Sets and also Production Manager with Cabrillo Music Theatre.
SPANKY REYNOSO (Hair and Makeup Designer) returns to Rubicon having previously designed Fiddler on the Roof, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, She Loves Me, My Antonia, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Bus Stop, You Can't Take It With You, Children of a Lesser God, Hamlet, Man of La Mancha and The Diary of Anne Frank.
The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman is the 17th World Premiere Rubicon has produced in just eleven seasons. Premieres have included works by Dan Gordo, Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman, Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire, Amanda McBroom and Joel Silberman, Scott Schwartz and Stephen Schwartz, Peter Melnick and Pamela Oland, Mark Stein, David Rambo, John Bucchino, Clarinda Ross, and Rubicon Artistic Associate Jenny Sullivan and others. Michael Jackowitz, a former New York producer, joined The company as Director of New Works nearly two years ago and now helms this effort. Of the pieces that have opened at Rubicon, several have gone on to other productions. Gordon's Murder in the First had its Australian premiere (he is currently represented on Broadway with Irina's Vow); Myler and Wheetman's John Denver Holiday has had four subsequent productions in Colorado and in Northern California; McBroom and Silberman's Lady Macbeth Sings the Blues played off-Broadway under the title Will's Women; Stein's Mating Dance of the Werewolf was recently made into an independent film directed by Cate Caplin; and Maltby and Shire's A Time for Love was performed at a LORT theatre in Buffalo.
Through the Ann Deal/Fashion Forms® Plays-in-Progress (PIP) series, The company has offered free public readings of new works and also provided dramaturgical support for playwrights.
Several of the premieres have been developed first through this program (including Rubicon's highly anticipated fall World Premiere event - Daddy Long Legs, a new musical with book by Olivier and Tony® Award-winner John Caird (Les Miserables/Nicholas Nickelby) and lyrics and music by Paul Gordon (Jane Eyre). Fashion Forms® completed a three-year commitment to the program and has recently announced a generous "naming gift" for the newly renovated balcony at the theatre. The Play-in-Progress program for 2009-2010 is currently on hold while new funding sources are sought.
Rubicon also offers an annual Young Playwrights program run by Education and Outreach Director BrIan McDonald and Clark Sayre. After several months of training, high school students write one-acts under the mentorship of working playwrights and screenwriters, and see their works directed and performed by adult professionals over Memorial Day weekend at the theatre. This program, underwritten by Marion Witte and the Angel Heart Foundation, has already fostered new voices who have gone on to become finalists in the National Young Playwrights' program in New York.
Says Artistic Director James O'Neil, "Rubicon is deeply committed to the development of new works. We feel privileged to have subscribers who are adventurous and who will come along for the ride," continues O'Neil, "whether we are presenting Shakespearean classics; edgy, contemporary new plays; or new musicals such as The Best is Yet to Come. We are grateful to our community for their support."
BACK TO "THE BEST": TICKET INFO AND SPONSORS
Tickets for The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman are $39 to $65 and are available online at www.rubicontheatre.org, or by calling the box office at 805.667.2900. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the theatre at 1006 E. Main Street (Laurel entrance), Ventura.