Steinhardt’s Theatre Season Opens with a Celebration of the Late Marvin Hamlisch and the Sweet Smell of Success

NYU Steinhardt opened its 2013-14 performance season with Sweet Smell of Success presented by NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Vocal Performance.  The play featured music by Tony, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by three-time Tony Award nominee Craig Carnelia, and book by Tony Award winner John Guare.

The performance on Thursday Sept. 12th began with the posthumous induction of Marvin Hamlisch into NYU’s Musical Theater Hall of Fame.   The induction honored Hamlisch’s life and stellar contributions to the field of musical theatre.  The Musical Theater Hall of Fame was inaugurated in 1993 by NYU President L. Jay Oliva to help perpetuate and the strengthen the field of  musical theatre.  Past inductees include Leonard Bernstein, Carol Channing, George and Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, and Richard Rodgers.

Based on the 1957 film, Sweet Smell of Success tells the story of powerful gossip columnist JJ Hunsecker and struggling press agent Sidney Falcone.  With 60 million readers across America, JJ’s power extends beyond the pages of the newspaper, and he has the goods on everyone from the President to the latest starlet.  When his younger sister Susan falls in love with an unknown piano player named Dallas, JJ offers Sidney a shot at the big time to help break up the couple. But is the price of JJ’s approval one that Sidney is willing to pay?

The show originally opened in March of 2002 at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway and was directed by Nicolas Hytner.  It was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Musical Score, and Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Brian d’Arcy James’ role as Sidney Falcone.  John Lithgow won a Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of JJ Hunsecker.

The production, directed by John Simpkins, featured music direction by Caleb Hoyer, choreography by MK Lawson, scenic design by Michael Schweikardt, lighting design by Chris Dallos, costume design by Michelle Eden Humphrey, and sound design by Craig Kaufman.  The production stage manager was Christina M. Hagan.  The cast featured students from the NYU Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions.

(Photo of Marvin Hamlisch courtesy Marvin Hamlisch/The Official Site of Marvin Hamlisch).

Read a review of the production published in Masterworks Broadway and the Huffington Post’s A Theatrical Group Smells Success Beyond Their Years.