Hamlisch musical magic lights up Elliott stage on Nov. 2
Meet the personality behind the composer whose music has made Broadway marquees twinkle for decades when Marvin Hamlisch and “One Singular Sensation” come to Elliott Hall of Music at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2.
Typical of the production values that Hamlisch is known for – in shows like A Chorus Line, The Goodbye Girl and They’re Playing Our Song – the Elliott concert will feature Broadway singer Stephen Lehew along with the Purdue Jazz Band/Orchestra and the Purdue Glee Club and Purduettes.
Campus groups have been rehearsing for two months in anticipation of the show that will come together Friday when Hamlisch arrives to assemble all the pieces in an afternoon rehearsal.
At the concert Hamlisch will not only sing and play a parade of his own hit tunes on the piano - showcasing his considerable improvisational ability - but he’ll also talk to the audience. Known for his wit, the composer readily shares his New York sense of humor through the informal concert format, as well as the vast store of remembrances and tales he’s collected in 33 years of composing for Broadway and motion pictures.
The Purdue Jazz Band/Orchestra will augment the musical sound, and have the experience of experience of performing in a professional setting with Hamlisch’s musical director Michael Keller directing them as well as the composer himself.
Featured vocalist on various numbers will be Dallas tenor Stephen Lehew, who’s extensive performing resume includes leads in West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, Showboat, and Cabaret. He will be backed up by singers from Purdue Musical Organizations.
As a composer, Hamlisch has won virtually every major award that exists – three Oscars, four Grammies, three Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globe awards. His groundbreaking show, “A Chorus Line,” received the Pulitzer Prize.
Films he’s known for include The Way We Were, Sophie’s Choice, Three Men and a Baby and Ice Castles among others. Purdue Jazz Band director M.T. “Mo” Trout says the musicians have been practicing a medley of rags to perform with Hamlisch who won an Oscar for his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for The Sting.
Both Trout and PMO Director Brian Breed are eagerly looking forward to working with Hamlisch.
“This is an opportunity to showcase our talented Purdue student performers, and to learn from, and work with, an American musical legend,” Breed says. “Mr. Hamlisch has such a generosity of spirit and wealth of talent that we all will have a chance to grow as musicians, performers and people through the experience.”
Trout’s excitement stems from the uniqueness of the opportunity. “Many of these students will never again have the chance to play a major show on one of the country’s largest stages with one of the biggest names in the music business.”
When the music happens the night of Nov. 2, it’ll be Keller or Hamlisch directing the students, not Trout, “so they’ll have to be incredibly professional. They’re up there in the spotlight and it’ll be do or die. They have to be on their toes musically, and be able to roll with what happens. It’s a big opportunity and a lot of pressure.”
It’s anticipated that all the vocalists and musicians will jointly perform “God Bless America” as well as the Hamlisch tune “One Song” which is particularly special to Breed.
“I was in the process of trying to find an arrangement for ‘One Song’ nine years ago when I saw Mr. Hamlisch perform the piece on a PBS special Through a local contact we were able to connect with Mr. Hamlisch directly and he personally sent us his arrangement of the song with his permission for PMO to use it. At the time it wasn’t even published yet,” Breed recalls.
“The Glee Club has been singing ‘One Song’ ever since. The lyrics are very powerful and the song is an inspiration to all that sing or hear it - ‘If we all sing one song, one song of love, one song of peace, one song to make all our troubles cease. One hope, one dream, imagine what tomorrow would bring if we all sing one song.’ ”
Tickets for “One Singular Sensation” are available at the door, in advance by calling 494-3933 or (800) 914-SHOW.