The ghost of Cy Coleman was back on Broadway this afternoon (Jan. 10). The Tony Award-winning composer/pianist died Nov. 18 at age 75, but he was very much in evidence at the Majestic Theatre during an all-star ASCAP celebration of his life and works.
Chita Rivera and Ann Reinking opened the program with a slinky rendition of “Big Spender,” which Coleman composed for the musical “Sweet Charity” with lyricist Dorothy Fields, a frequent collaborator. Also saluting Coleman in song were such bright Broadway lights as Lucie Arnaz, Bea Arthur, Chuck Cooper, Jim Dale, Judy Kaye, Michele Lee, Donna McKechnie, Brian Stokes Mitchell, James Naughton, John Schneider and Lillias White, who brought down the house with an achingly hot take on “The Oldest Profession,” her show-stopper from the 1997 musical “The Life.”
Also joining in with witty and touching spoken tributes were Neil Simon, Wendy Wasserstein, A.E. Hotchner, David Zippel and ASCAP president and chairman Marilyn Bergman.
The show closed with the spotlight eerily focused on a player-less piano as Coleman’s taped voice gently filled the theater with a new song from “In the Pocket,” a musical slated to debut next year on Broadway.