Kennedy Center Salutes Cy Coleman

October 10, 2008

The Kennedy Center presented an ASCAP-sponsored tribute to songwriter Cy Coleman Tuesday night.  The evening was part of the center’s education outreach program and featured Michael Kerker of ASCAP and David Zippel, a Coleman collaborator, talking about Coleman and then various performers singing Coleman songs. 

There were even a couple of film clips of Coleman singing his own work.  My favorite of these was Coleman singing Witchcraft.  I especially love the interlude that I’ve never heard before:

The information given about Coleman and his work seemed fairly basic.  The most interesting moments were Zippel describing working with Coleman on City of Angels.  And they didn’t even discuss the fact that Coleman killed cabaret legend Sylvia Syms*.

The performances were a mixed bag.  The highlights were Billy Stritch with an impassioned version of It Amazes Me, and Lillias White reprising her showstopper from The Life: The World’s Oldest Profession.  David Zippel was terrific performing I Know What I Like, a song about musicals from the point of view of an acerbic critic and he re-wrote the lyrics to You’re Nothing Without Me as a trio for Jason Graae, Lillias White and Judy Blazer.  Otherwise, as tends to happen at these events, it seemed very clear what songs performers have had in their repertoires and what was specifically learned for the occasion.

Here are the songs that were performed:

  • You Fascinate Me So (Jason Graae)
  • Nobody Does It Like Me (Judy Blazer)
  • Don’t Ask a Lady (Lillias White)
  • Museum Song (Jason Graae)
  • It Amazes Me (Billy Stritch)
  • The World’s Oldest Profession (Lillias White)
  • With Ev’ry Breath I Take (Blazer)
  • You’re Nothing Without Me (Blazer, White, Graae)
  • The Best Is Yet to Come (Stritch)
  • I Know What I Like (David Zippel)
  • Pleasure of Pain (Blazer, Graae)
  • Those Hands (White)
  • Hey, Look Me Over (Blazer)
  • Real Live Girl (Graae)
  • If They Gould See Me Now (Stritch)
  • The Colors of My Life (White)
  • It’s Not Where You Start (Company)
  • It Started With A Dream (Company)

Chris Marlowe served as music director and Billy Stritch accompanied himself on It Amazes Me and The Best Is Yet to Come.

*OK, he didn’t really kill her.  But he was int he audience when she had the heart attack onstage at the Algonquin that ended her life.