JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: THE STORY OF MARVIN HAMLISCH: Jonathan Roxmouth has done it again with this beguiling and amusing music-filled show, but this time it’s a duet.(Plays through January 10th in Johannesburg and Opens January 13th at the Theatre on the Bay, Cape Town. Get your ticket:
Jonathan Roxmouth, Sharon Spiegel-Wagner and Production team: “And so I’M PLAYING YOUR SONG is finally open. To end 2015 on such a high is just perfect. Shows all through Christmas and New Year at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre & Studio. Heartfelt thanks to “Team MARVIN”: Sharon, Alan, Denis, Mark, Bryan, Adam, Emily, Jaco, Dihan, Kiya, Francois and Luciano. Wish you were here, Mr. Hamlisch.”
Sharon Spiegel-Wagner does far more than play the satellites to his star; she proves that in acting and singing ability she is easily his equal. She even knows her way around a piano — she is not the whiz he is, but then few are.
Together they tell The story of Marvin Hamlisch,” a shy Jewish boy of immigrant parents who hijacks his sister’s piano lessons and makes it to the Julliard, the mecca of aspiring musicians.
Turning his back on the classics, he turns to song-writing and film scores, winning three Oscars in one night.
This is beautifully and amusingly acted out as Roxmouth, suitably gawky and overwhelmed, accepts his little golden men from, in turn, Debbie Reynolds, Cher and Ann-Margret, all recognisably portrayed by Spiegel-Wagner, who also does an excellent Barbra Streisand (including the voice).
Her best character, to my mind, is Hamlisch’s feisty Austrian mother, complete with accent, dishcloth and cleaver, who picks him up when he falls down, urges him to greater heights, straightens his tie and feeds him tuna-fish sandwiches.
Hamlisch, in case you don’t know, won his three Oscars for The Sting and The Way We Were, and went on to compose the score for The Musical A Chorus Line, plus many more, winning a string of Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, Tony and Pulitzer Awards.
Along the way he encounters many women, including Carly Simon and Carole Bayer Sager, but meets the love of his life in Terre Blair. Their courtship and marriage is tender, funny and, inevitably, musical.
It is up to Terre, again a deft and poignant portrayal by Spiegel-Wagner, to give his requiem after his sudden death in 2012.
Roxmouth plays Hamlisch throughout, conveying a man of charm, humour, vulnerability and enormous talent. The role involves, of course, some virtuoso feats at the piano, starting in some cases with the few notes or college bells that inspired Hamlisch, then building into heart-catching melodies that you find you know.
So give yourself a treat this Christmas and enter into the world of Marvin Hamlisch. You’ll come away singing.
VIDEO: FROM THE MUSICAL “A CHORUS LINE”
Baryshnikov on Broadway — From “A Chorus Line” — “One” — THE MUSIC OF MARVIN HAMLISCH:
The show was written by Jonathan Roxmouth and Alan Swerdlow and directed by Swerdlow, with musical direction by Roxmouth.