PITTSBURGH— The music, humor, warmth and life of Marvin Hamlisch will once again grace the Heinz Hall stage when “Play It Again, Marvin! A Marvin Hamlisch Celebration” makes its world premiere with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on June 28 at 8 p.m.
Nobody did it better than Hamlisch as his Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tony Award can attest. From “The Way We Were” to “A Chorus Line,” from “Ice Castles” to “The Sting,” his music turned moments into memories. This new multimedia concert, produced by writer and pianist Kevin Cole, celebrates the “People’s Composer” and gives the audience an insider’s view into Hamlisch’s life through song, private family videos and personal memories.
“The reason I am doing the world premiere with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is because not only is it one of the greatest symphonies on the planet, but a huge part of Marvin’s heart remains in Pittsburgh,” says Cole, who was granted unprecedented access to Hamlisch’s personal and professional archives.
Hamlisch’s friends—Broadway sensation Brian d’Arcy James, London West End superstar Maria Friedman, multi-Grammy Award winner Sylvia McNair, conductor J. Ernest Green and Cole, Marvin’s favorite pianist, are featured in the production.
Tickets, ranging in price from $40 to 105, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting pittsburghsymphony.org.
Kevin Cole has delighted audiences with a repertoire that includes the best of American music. Cole’s performances have prompted accolades from some of the foremost critics in America. Engagements for Cole include sold-out performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl; BBC Concert Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall; National Symphony at the Kennedy Center; Hong Kong Philharmonic; San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Philharmonia Orchestra (London); Boston Philharmonic, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (Australia) Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Seattle Symphony and Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra; New Zealand Symphony and Edmonton Symphony (Canada); and Ravinia Festival, Wolf Trap, Savannah Music Festival, Castleton Festival and Chautauqua Institute, as well as many others. He made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Albany Symphony in May 2013. He has shared the concert stage with Liza Minnelli, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, William Warfield, Sylvia McNair, Lorin Maazel, Itzhak Perlman, Brian d’Arcy James, Barbara Cook, Robert Klein, Lucie Arnaz, Maria Friedman, Idina Menzel and friend and mentor Marvin Hamlisch. Cole was featured soloist for the PBS special, “Gershwin at One Symphony Place,” with the Nashville Symphony. He has written, directed, co-produced and performed a multimedia concert for the Gershwins called “Here to Stay: The Gershwin Experience.” Cole is an award-winning musical director, arranger, composer, vocalist and archivist who garnered the praises of Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg, Hugh Martin, Burton Lane, Marvin Hamlisch, Stephen Sondheim and members of the Jerome Kern and Gershwin families. He has worked as vocal arranger/accompanist for opera, pop and musical theatre performers Sylvia McNair, Dawn Upshaw, Brian d’Arcy James, Karen Morrow, Melissa Manchester, John Lithgow, Donna McKechnie, Christine Andreas, Hollis Resnik, Klea Blackhurst, Kim Criswell and William Warfield. Visit Cole at KevinColeOnLine.com.
Best known as a three-time Olivier Award-winning (with seven nominations) star of the musical stage, the heart of Maria Friedman’s career has been centered around the love and work of her dear friend Stephen Sondheim. She has played Dot in “Sunday in the Park with George” at the National Theatre, Fosca in “Passion” at the Queen’s (Olivier Award), Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” at the Royal Festival Hall with Bryn Terfel, and Mary in “Merrily We Roll Along” at the Leicester Haymarket. Additionally, in concert, she has played Sally in “Follies” and both Charlotte and Petra in “A Little Night Music.” In May 2009, Friedman was honored to sing for Stephen at his 80th birthday celebrations in New York and Washington, as well as at the special all-Sondheim Prom in July 2010. She was invited by Marvin Hamlisch to appear as guest singer at the reopening of the famous Venetian rooms in the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, and she starred in “The Invisible Man” at The Menier Chocolate Factory. Friedman appeared as guest singer with the English National Opera performing Strictly Gershwin at the Royal Albert Hall. Her other leading musical roles include Anna in “The King and I” at the Royal Albert Hall, Mother in “Ragtime” (Olivier Award), Liza in “Lady in The Dark” at the National, Sukie in “The Witches of Eastwick” at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Roxie in “Chicago” at the Adelphi, and Marian in “The Woman In White” at London’s Palace and also at Broadway’s Marquis (Theatre World Award). She also starred in the original London production of “Blues in the Night,” and played Hayyah in Nicholas Hytner’s acclaimed National Theatre production of “Ghetto.” Non-singing roles include “Break of Day” (Royal Court), “Square Rounds” (National) and “April in Paris” (Ambassador’s). In 1994, the Donmar Warehouse presented “Maria Friedman: By Special Arrangement,” a series of concerts with a virtuoso 11-piece band. The show went on to win an Olivier Award, and transferred to the Whitehall Theatre in 1995 as “Maria Friedman: By Extra Special Arrangement.” In 2008 she was invited to present a new version of the show at the Menier Chocolate Factory — “Maria Friedman: Re-arranged,” which went on to transfer to the Trafalgar Studios. On screen, Friedman has been seen as the Narrator in the best-selling film of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” with Donny Osmond, and is often recognized as Trish Baynes from “Casualty.” Friedman’s many international concert appearances include three sell-out seasons at New York’s prestigious Cafe Carlyle, and many concerts with Michel Legrand and Marvin Hamlisch.
J. Ernest Green, often a frequent collaborator with the late Marvin Hamlisch, recently conducted at Wolf Trap. Green is the principal conductor at the McClean Symphony and a cover conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he has worked with such artists as Metropolitan Opera star Denyce Graves, Sir James Galway, Pinchas Zuckerman and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Green also recently conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra. He is also the artistic director of Live Arts Maryland and the music director of the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra and Annapolis Chorale. From 1995 to 1998, he was the principal guest conductor of the Boston Aria Guild and has served as the conductor for the Teatro Lirico d’Europa in Paris. Green was the music director for the Young Victorian Theatre Company from 1985 to 2008. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1993 and in 1986 made his international debut conducting performances with the Fundacão Orquestra Sinfonica de Brazil, Associacão Opera de Brasilia and the Orquestra Jovem de Brasilia. From 2004 to 2007, Green served as the music director of the Mozart Festival Opera, where he lead productions of “Don Giovanni” and “Le Nozze di Figaro,” “The Magic Flute,” “La Traviata” and Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” Known for his adventurous and creative programming as he pushes the boundaries of the concert hall, Green has created several “fusion” programs combining standard concert repertoire with popular and contemporary music, which he has lead with orchestras both here and abroad. In addition, he has received acclaim for his concert productions of operas and other stage works, among them Verdi’s “La Traviata,” “Sweeney Todd,” and, most recently, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific.” Green has appeared with many orchestras including: the Philadelphia Orchestra with Marvin Hamlisch, The National Symphony Orchestra with Denyce Graves for the National Martin Luther King Day concert at the Kennedy Center, The Florida Orchestra, Cumberland Valley Chamber Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony, the Sophia Symphony and Varna Symphony (Bulgaria), Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Lincoln Symphony, Orquestra Sinfonica Nacional (Santo Domingo), Mesa Symphony, Cumberland Valley Chamber Players and the Trinity Chamber Orchestra (Cleveland). He has toured with the Ballet Arabesque (Bulgaria) the Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Mozart Festival Opera and the Teatro Lirico d’Europa. Green’s opera credits include the Hawaii Opera Theatre, Teatro Lirico d’Europa, Boston Aria Guild, Indiana Opera North, Associacão Opera de Brasilia, Boston Academy of Music and the Young Victorian Theatre Company.
Brian d’Arcy James most recently appeared as Banquo in the Lincoln Center Theater production of “Macbeth” alongside Ethan Hawke directed by Jack O’Brien. James is a two-time Tony Award nominee, for his performance of Shrek in “Shrek the Musical” (winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Drama Desk Award for that role) and also as Sidney Falco in “Sweet Smell of Success.” He previously starred as Bick Benedict in The Public Theater’s production of the new musical “Giant.”Prior to that, he earned rave reviews on Broadway in the play “Time Stands Still” starring along- side Laura Linney, Christina Ricci and Eric Bogosian at the Cort Theater. James originated the role of Dan Goodman in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Next to Normal” at Second Stage Theater and reprised his role in the subsequent Broadway production. Other Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include “The Wild Party,” “The Good Thief” (Obie Award Winner), “Port Authority” (Lucille Lortel Winner), “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” “The Apple Tree,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Titanic,” “Carousel” and “Blood Brothers.” James’ film work includes the Oren Moverman film “Time Out of Mind” starring Richard Gere, “Admission” with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, “Bird in a Box” (short), the Ed Burns film “Fitzgerald Family Christmas,” “Game Change,” “Friends with Kids” and “Ghost Town.” On the television side, James most recently shot the F/X pilot “Hoke” starring Paul Giamatti. He appeared in the NBC series “Ironside” and CBS’s “The Good Wife.” Prior to these, he starred in the NBC television show “Smash” as Frank Houston opposite Debra Messing. He also appeared as a recurring character on Showtime’s “The Big C” starring Laura Linney. Other television credits include “Person of Interest,” “Rescue Me” and “Cashmere Mafia.”
Two-time Grammy Award and regional Emmy Award winner Sylvia McNair lays claim to a three-decade, stellar career in the musical realms of opera, oratorio, cabaret and musical theater. Her journey has taken her from the Metropolitan Opera to the Salzburg Festival, from the New York Philharmonic to the Rainbow Room, from the Ravinia Festival to The Plaza, from the pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to the London Times and the cover of Cabaret Scenes. Having appeared as a soloist multiple times with nearly every major opera company and symphony orchestra in the world, this songbird has flown the classical coop. She’s retracing her star route now with Gershwin, Porter, Sondheim and Bernstein. Numerous Pops appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and others continue the reincarnation of her musical gifts in the most remarkable ways with the most rewarding results. It would be difficult to top McNair’s invitations to sing the Bach B-minor Mass with the Vienna Philharmonic for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican and a recital for the U.S. Supreme Court by special request of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. But her engagements for nine of the last 11 summers at the Ravinia Festival with Broadway legends John Raitt, George Hearn and Brian Stokes Mitchell are what her dreams are made of. Her Great American Songbook cabaret shows have been heard in New York at the Rainbow Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Savoy Room at Sheldon Hall, The Colony in Palm Beach, Feinstein’s at the Regency, the Aspen Music Festival and the famed Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel. McNair has more than 70 recordings ranging from Mozart arias with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields to the music of Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen with pianist Andre Previn. Most recently, McNair released a Christmas CD, Peace, and a disc of Latin American jazz standards called Romance. McNair earned a master’s degree with distinction from the Indiana University School of Music, received honorary doctorates from Westminster College (1997) and Indiana University (1998), the Ohio Governor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts and Entertainment (1999) and the Indiana Governor’s Arts Award (2011). In 2007, McNair received the Gaudium Award from The Breukelein Institute for “extraordinary and distinctive contributions to the arts and public life.” Visit SylviaMcNair.com for more.
Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc., a non-profit organization, and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, Heinz Hall also hosts many other events that do not feature its world-renowned orchestra, including Broadway shows, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org.