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