SAMMY, a new musical about the life of Sammy David Jr. at The Old Globe, officially opens today, October 2nd.
The world premiere of SAMMY is presented by Old Globe Executive Producer Lou Spisto with book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, and additional songs by Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Directed by Keith Glover with choreography by Keith Young and music supervision by Ian Fraser, Sammy began previews on Sept. 19 and will run through Nov. 8.
"The opportunity to work with Leslie Bricusse and tell the story of the great Sammy Davis, Jr. was something we couldn't pass up," said Spisto. "Bricusse contributed to Sammy's canon of hits more than any other individual songwriter. Who better to give us an insightful book and a new score which includes the classics that helped shape this legendary entertainer? Though Sammy crossed many boundaries throughout his multifaceted career, there was much more to him than his iconic public persona. Our aim with this new work is to both honor Sammy Davis, Jr. for those who knew and loved him, and to also introduce this one-of-a-kind performer to a new audience."
Sammy moves from Sammy Davis, Jr.'s beginnings in vaudeville through the Rat Pack years with Frank Sinatra to ultimate recognition of his lifetime contribution to American culture. Featuring the classic tunes that helped to make Davis an icon - "The Candy Man," "Mr. Bojangles" and "What Kind of Fool Am I" - Sammy traces the highs and lows of the ultimate triple-threat singer, actor and dancer. Davis was one of the greatest performers of his generation, paving new ground while struggling with issues of identity, race and a turbulent personal life.
Broadway veteran Obba Babatundé headlines as Sammy Davis, Jr. The cast also features Heather Ayers (May Britt/Ensemble), Ann Duquesnay (Rosa Davis), Mary Ann Hermansen (Kim Novak/Ensemble), Adam James (Frank Sinatra), Troy Britton Johnson (Dean Martin/Cohn/Jennings/Ensemble), Ted Louis Levy (Sammy Davis, Sr.), Keewa Nurullah (Lola Folana/Ensemble), Perry Ojeda (Eddie Cantor/Ensemble), Victoria Platt (Altovise Gore/Ensemble), Lance Roberts (Will Mastin), Alonzo Saunders (Murphy/Ensemble) with Jenelle Engleson, Stephanie Girard, Lauren Haughton, Anise Ritchie and Sarrah Strimel (Ensemble).
The Sammy creative team also includes Alexander Dodge (Scenic Design), Fabio Toblini (Costume Design), Chris Lee (Lighting Design), John H. Shivers (Sound Design), David Patridge (Sound Design), Ned Ginsburg (Orchestrator), Rahn Coleman (Music Director/Conductor), Dominique Kelley (Assistant Choreographer), Tara Rubin Casting (Casting) and David Sugarman (Stage Manager).
The multitalented Keith Glover returns to The Old Globe having previously directed his own work, Thunder Knocking on the Door, winner of the American Theatre Critics Association's Osborn Award. He authored a new adaptation of the Sammy Davis, Jr. vehicle, Golden Boy (based on the original by Clifford Odets and William Gibson) and has directed many of his own plays including In Walks Ed which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Dancing on Moonlight, produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, Coming of the Hurricane, a finalist for the American Theatre Critics Award for Best Play, The Rose of Corazon, Jazzland, Dark Paradise, Shooting Star, Clandestine Crossing and The Sword of Kazaran. As an actor, he has appeared on stage, television and film. Glover received an Outstanding Writing in a Feature Film/Television Movie Image Award nomination for Life is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story.
Keith Young choreographed the recent Broadway revival of On the Town. His regional credits include Crowns, Thunder Knocking at the Door and Cheer. His film credits include Nancy Meyer's upcoming feature It's Complicated with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, The Baster with Jennifer Aniston, Rent, Something's Gotta Give, What Women Want, Dark Streets, The Holiday, Rat Race, Affair of the Necklace and The Parent Trap. On television, his work has been seen on The Academy Awards, The Emmy Awards, The Grammy Awards, The NAACP Image Awards, "Pushing Daisies," "The Unit," "So You Think You Can Dance," "The Drew Carey Show" (Emmy Award), "Seinfeld" and "Christopher Reeve: A Celebration of Hope" (American Choreography Award). Young has staged both live concerts and music videos for Madonna, Babyface, Bette Midler, Josh Groban, Outkast, Phil Collins, Clay Aiken, LL Cool J, Talking Heads, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole.
Like his mentor Sammy Davis, Jr., Obba Babatundé has been entertaining audiences since he was a child. A skilled actor, singer and dancer, Davis once said of Babatundé that "I feel safe knowing that with cats like Obba, when I get out of this business I am leaving it in good hands." Babatundé was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance as C.C. White in the original Broadway cast of Dreamgirls. His additional Broadway credits include the revival of Chicago, Grind and Timbuktu! He also created the role of Jelly Roll Morton in Jelly's Last Jam. On television, Babatundé delivered an Emmy-nominated performance in Miss Ever's Boys, received a NAACP Image Award nomination for his performance as Harold Nicholas in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and has appeared in 60 made-for-television movies. His theatrical films include Philadelphia, That Thing You Do, After the Sunset, The Manchurian Candidate, The Notebook and the upcoming Moneyball opposite Brad Pitt.
An accomplished showman and songwriter, Adam James was chosen by Tina Sinatra to portray her father, Frank, in Sinatra Remembered, the first-ever musical theater production about his life. James also co-starred Off Broadway in Our Sinatra at New York's legendary jazz venue, Birdland, and covered the role of Sinatra in the North American premiere of London's West End production of The Rat Pack. James replaced fellow Canadian crooner Michael Bublé as the vocalist/emcee for the American tour of Forever Swing. He performs internationally with symphonies and big bands starring in A Toast to Ol' Blue Eyes, a show he co-created with conductor/arranger David Martin. He has also appeared in concert with Liza Minnelli, Tony Bennett and Ray Charles. James was named "Best Vocalist" by Jazz Report Magazine, was a finalist at the Montreal Jazz Festival and was nominated for a 2004 Genie Award (the Canadian "Oscar") for singing and co-writing the theme song for the film, Mambo Italiano. Following the autumn release of his debut solo recording, Adam James, he will perform in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and compose songs for Twyla Tharp's Come Fly With Me.
Tony Award winner Ann Duquesnay most recently starred in Sheila's Day in Johannesburg, South Africa and at Crossroads Theatre, New Brunswick, N.J. Her Broadway credits include Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk (Tony Award, Drama League Recognition Award and Grammy nomination (co-composer/lyricist)), Hot Feet, It Ain't Nothin But the Blues, Jelly's Last Jam, revival of The Wiz, and Blues in the Night. She has appeared Off Broadway in Our Leading Lady (Manhattan Theatre Club - AUDELCO Award nominee), Cookin' at the Cookery (Melting Pot Theatre - Drama Desk nominee and Drama League Recognition Award), and Spunk (New York Shakespeare Festival - AUDELCO Award).
Emmy Award winner Ted Louis Levy's professional training began in Chicago with Finis Henderson II, Master Tap Dancer and former manager of Sammy Davis, Jr. Levy collaborated with George C. Wolfe and Gregory Hines on the choreography of Jelly's Last Jam, for which he received a Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations, and the Outer Critics Circle Award. Levy also appeared on Broadway in Black and Blue and as Papa Jack in Susan Stroman and Harry Connick, Jr.'s Thou Shalt Not. He received a Helen Hayes Award for his portrayal of The Mikado in The Ford Theater's production of The Hot Mikado. He directed Savion Glover's Dancing Under The Stars at the New York Shakespeare Festival's Delacorte Theater and contributed to the choreography Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk on Broadway. Levy made his film debut in Spike Lee's Malcolm X, appeared with Gregory Hines in Bojangles and received an Emmy Award for his television debut performance in the PBS Special "Precious Memories." He is the recipient of the 2008 Gregory Hines Humanitarian Award.
Double Oscar and Grammy winner Leslie Bricusse has written more than 40 musical shows and films, and has collaborated with an array of musical talents, including Anthony Newley, Henry Mancini, John Williams, John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, Jule Styne, Quincy Jones, Andre Previn, Frank Wildhorn and Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky (whose Nutcracker Suite he adapted into a song score). He has been nominated for ten Academy Awards, nine Grammys and four Tonys, and in addition to his Oscars and Grammy, has won eight Ivor Novello Awards. His stage musicals include Stop the World - I Want to Get Off, The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd, Pickwick, Harvey, The Good Old Bad Old Days, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Henry's Wives, Scrooge, One Shining Moment, Sherlock Holmes, Jekyll and Hyde and Victor/Victoria. Bricusse has also written songs and/or screenplays for such films as Doctor Dolittle, Scrooge, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Superman, Victor/Victoria, Santa Claus - The Movie, Home Alone I & II, Hook, Tom & Jerry - The Movie, and various Pink Panther films. His better-known songs include "What Kind of Fool Am I?," "Once in a Lifetime," "Gonna Build a Mountain," "Who Can I Turn To?," "The Joker," "If I Ruled the World," "My Kind of Girl," "Talk to the Animals," "You and I," "Feeling Good," "When I Look in Your Eyes," "Goldfinger," "Can You Read My Mind?" (the Love Theme from Superman), "You Only Live Twice," "Le Jazz Hot!," "On a Wonderful Day Like Today," "Two for the Road," "The Candy Man," "This Is the Moment," "Crazy World," "Pure Imagination" and "Oompa-Loompa-Doompa-Dee-Doo." In 1989, Bricusse received the Kennedy Award for consistent excellence in British songwriting, bestowed by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, and was inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame - only the fourth Englishman to be honored - after Noel Coward, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Anthony Newley garnered three Tony Award nominations (Best Actor, Best Musical Author and Best Composer and Lyricist) for Stop the World-I Want to Get Off and two Tony Award nominations (Best Director and Best Composer and Lyricist) for The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell of the Crowd, both written with his longtime collaborator, Leslie Bricusse. After the worldwide success of these two hit musicals, Newley ventured into film with roles in Doctor Dolittle and Sweet November. Other film credits as director, actor or producer include Summertree, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, Mr. Quilp and Can Hieronymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? His collaborations with Bricusse also produced the score to the television production of Peter Pan which starred Danny Kaye and Mia Farrow, the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and the London stage production of the Good Old Bad Old Days. Together they created such standards as "What Kind of Fool Am I?," "Who Can I Turn To?," "Goldfinger," "Once in a Lifetime" and Sammy Davis, Jr.'s international hit record "The Candy Man." In television he played opposite Joan Collins in the "Tonight at Eight Thirty" series, "Red Peppers" and "Fumed Oak." His final television appearances were in "Eastenders" and "The Lakes." Newley devoted his time in later years to personal appearances in nightclubs and cabarets around the world performing his highly acclaimed one man show. During the last five years of his life he achieved enormous success in the musical version of Scrooge culminating in a record breaking season at London's Dominion Theatre.