An Ode to "One Singular Sensation"

The music of Marvin Hamlisch fills the audience with smiles and tapping toes
(Left to right) Jason Graae, Christiane Noll, Carol Woods and Karen Ziemba pay homage to the great Marvin Hamlisch. Photo by Kathleen A. Fahle.

Staying with a musical superstar theme (the first show of the season featured the work of Rodgers and Hammerstein), the Cape Playhouse premiered their second show of the season, "They're Playing His Songs: The Music of Marvin Hamlisch", before a very enthusiastic crowd.

Originally conceived as an evening dedicated to the musical majesty of Marvin Hamlisch at the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert, CA, the show was parlayed into a proper stage show by David Zippel who also directed.

Marvin Hamlisch is quite possibly one of the most prolific, influential talents in the history of music.  Born on June 2, 1944, Hamlisch was taken much too soon in 2012 at the age of 68.

The show opened with the blessing of Hamlisch's widow, who in a note read by Producing Artistic Director Evans Haile, regretted not being able to make it to the premier, but said she knew her late husband would be smiling down from above.

"They're Playing His Songs", a play on "They're Playing Our Song" (a musical with book by Neil Simon, lyrics by Carol Bayer Sager and music by Hamlisch), is an absolute delight featuring live musicians and four very talented singers: Jason Graae, Christiane Noll, Carol Woods and Karen Ziemba. As luck would have it, Graae and Noll were two of Hamlisch's favorite singers, according to Haile.

The singers and the musicians, featuring the very talented Christopher Marlowe on piano, immediately drew the audience in, turning the playhouse into an intimate, smoky cabaret. Graae, Noll, Woods and Ziemba are all seasoned, award-winning stage performers who have the musical chops to take on and make the most of Hamlisch's music. Their voices melded together perfectly in some numbers and showed their individual talents in others.

Songs were woven together by Hamlisch's own words, projected on a giant screen behind the band.  Marvin Hamlisch was candid, quick witted and surprisingly funny.  He had a true talent--a knack, really, for translating feelings and emotions into music.  Some songs are romantic and poetic, while others are kicky and randy.

Hamlisch was so prolific, it is easy to forget everything he accomplished during his career.  The winner of four Emmys, four Grammys, three Oscars, a Tony and three Golden Globes, Hamlisch is responsible for timeless songs including "Nobody Does It Better" (The Spy Who Loved Me), "The Entertainer" (The Sting), "The Way We Were" (The Way We Were) and "What I Did for Love" (A Chorus Line)--all included in the show.

Marvin Hamlisch is a true American treasure and his music has made an everlasting impression on movie soundtracks and the musical stage. "They're Playing His Songs" is a fitting tribute to a brilliant and much beloved musician.

"They're Playing His Songs: The Music of Marvin Hamlisch" is running June 24 through July 6 at the Cape Playhouse, 820 Route 6A in Dennis, 877-385-3911. Shows are Monday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., matinees are Wednesdays and the second Thursday at 2 p.m. and the first Saturday at 3:30p.m.


CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.