Thursday, June 02, 2011

Review: The Best is Yet to Come at 59E59

I can hardly call myself an expert on composer Cy Coleman. I know some of his popular music--"The Best is Yet to Come," "Witchcraft"--thanks to Frank Sinatra. As for his musical scores, I'm very familiar with Sweet Charity and I've seen City of Angels. His other musicals include Barnum, On the Twentieth Century, Seesaw, Little Me, and The Will Rogers Follies. The Best is Yet to Come at 59E59 was an introduction to a career I was mostly unfamiliar with.

David Burnham (Wicked), Sally Mayes (She Loves Me), Howard McGillin (The Phantom of the Opera), Lillias White (The Life), and Rachel York (City of Angels) are all in fine voice and accompanied by music director Billy Stritch on the piano (occasionally taking the microphone himself) and a seven-piece band.

Though I personally would have liked at least one full number from Sweet Charity ("Big Spender" and "If My Friends Could See Me Now" appear briefly in medleys), the music selection is representative of Coleman's varied styles (he began his career in jazz clubs). A problem with revues is that the staging can often seem cheesy and director David Zippel does not entirely avoid that here, but there are some notable exceptions, and one in particular is reason enough to see the show--when Lillias White lets loose on "The Oldest Profession" from the show that won her a Tony, The Life, in a powerhouse performance that all but stops the show.

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