Welcome to BROADWAY RECALL, a bi-monthly column where BroadwayWorld.com's Chief Theatre Critic, Michael Dale, delves into the archives and explores the stories behind the well-known and the not so well-known videos and photographs of Broadway's past. Look for BROADWAY RECALL every other Saturday.
The sad news of Marvin Hamlisch’s passing – particularly with the excitement building for his new show, The Nutty Professor, now playing its premiere engagement in Nashville – has received plenty of attention throughout the week here on BroadwayWorld. But there’s one quirky little Hamlisch moment some of our readers might not be aware of, which I’d like to share.
My first exposure to the man’s brilliance was a record called An Evening With Groucho, documenting Groucho Marx’s historic 1972 solo show at Carnegie Hall. Hamlisch accompanied the great comic at piano and was assigned to arrange and play a medley of popular songs associated with The Marx Brothers as an introductory prelude. Having a little fun with the audience, he began the evening by playing Beethoven's 21st piano sonata, which must have seemed an odd choice for the occasion until he slipped into the piece the melody of “Hooray For Captain Spaulding,” drawing a large round of applause from the crowd. Next came bits of “Alone” and “Everyone Says ‘I Love You’” followed by Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca leading into “Cosi Cosa.” The Spaulding theme repeats and he wraps up with a bit of “Rhapsody In Blue.”
Remarkably, A Chorus Line was Hamlisch’s first Broadway score. But Michael Bennett knew he had the right guy from his work as a dance arranger for such a diverse collection of musicals as Henry, Sweet Henry (where he met Bennett), Golden Rainbow, Minnie’s Boys (where he met Groucho Marx) and Seesaw. Throughout his Broadway career, he was known for writing melodies that could be turned into show-stopping dance numbers, as exemplified by this clip of “Dirt” from Sweet Smell of Success.
Hamlisch's funeral will take place 11am today at Temple Emanu-El (1 East 65th Street). The funeral, like the visitations, is open to the public.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.
Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.