Subbing for Sally Mayes, Natascia Diaz Will Step Into Off-Broadway's Best Is Yet to Come

News   Subbing for Sally Mayes, Natascia Diaz Will Step Into Off-Broadway's Best Is Yet to Come
 
Actress Natascia Diaz — of Off-Broadway's Jacques Brel and Bright Lights, Big City and the recent Public Theater concert production of The Capeman — will step in for Sally Mayes for six performances of the critically acclaimed musical revue The Best Is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman in New York City.

Natascia Diaz
Natascia Diaz

Diaz will perform from June 16-19 while Mayes (Broadway's She Loves Me, Welccome to the Club) fulfills a prior engagement.

The revue conceived and directed by David Zippel is part of the Americas Off Broadway series at 59E59 Theaters.

The starry show pulls songs from the catalog of Zippel's late collaborator, the Tony Award-winning composer Coleman. It opened May 25. Tony winner Lillias White, a Coleman favorite, is among the players.

The composer of the Broadway musicals Sweet Charity, Little Me, Wildcat, On the Twentieth Century, Barnum, The Life and The Will Rogers Follies died in 2004, but his internationally-known songs — including the title number — linger on. "I've Got Your Number," "Witchcraft," "Big Spender" are among his hits, and they appear in the show, which began previews May 18.

Zippel, who shared a Best Score Tony Award with Coleman for City of Angels, and was working on new shows with him in 2004, staged The Best Is Yet to Come for California's Rubicon Theatre Company in 2009. It now resurfaces (with a slightly different cast) Off-Broadway. 59E59 Theaters' Americas Off Broadway series gives New York exposure to regional not-for-profit troupes.

On opening night, The Best Is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman featured David Burnham (Wicked), Tony Award nominee Sally Mayes (She Loves Me, Coleman's Welcome to the Club), Tony Award nominee Howard McGillin (The Phantom of the Opera, Anything Goes, The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Billy Stritch (Liza's at the Palace), Tony Award winner Lillias White (The Life, Fela!, Barnum) and Rachel York (Coleman's City of Angels).

"His body of work was so extraordinary it would be exciting to see it in revue form, and I had had talked to Cy about it years ago," Zippel previously told Playbill.com. "He told me: 'That's for after I'm gone; let's write something new.'"

Zippel, who, with Coleman, also wrote the yet-to-be produced comic Napoleon musical, N, contacted the composer's widow, Shelby, and she enthusiastically agreed to move forward with a revue, the lyricist said. (The pair also wrote Pamela's First Musical, with Wendy Wasserstein.)

An eight-piece onstage band sweetens the experience. Musical direction is by Billy Stritch. Orchestrations are by Don Sebesky. Lorin Lataro again choreographs. The creative team includes costume designer William Ivey Long, set designer Douglas Schmidt, lighting designer Michael Gilliam and sound designer Jonathan Burke, all of whom were involved in the tryout production in California. The production stage manager is Christina Burck. 

The Best Is Yet to Come includes the professional premiere of four Coleman-Zippel songs. Expect to hear lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Betty Comden & Adolph Green, Dorothy Fields, Ira Gasman, Carolyn Leigh, Michael Stewart and Zippel.

Here's the songlist for The Best Is Yet to Come:

THE BEST IS YET TO COME
CAST
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

NOBODY DOES IT LIKE ME
SALLY MAYES
Lyrics: Dorothy Fields

YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON ME
RACHEL YORK, LILLIAS WHITE, SALLY MAYES
Lyrics: David Zippel

YOU FASCINATE ME SO
HOWARD McGILLIN
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

DON'T ASK A LADY
LILLIAS WHITE
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER
DAVID BURNHAM
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT WOMEN
SALLY MAYES, RACHEL YORK
Lyrics: David Zippel

COME SUMMER
RACHEL YORK
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

IT AMAZES ME
BILLY STRITCH
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

MONEY MEDLEY:
SALLY MAYES, RACHEL YORK, HOWARD MCGILLIN, DAVID BURNHAM
FIVE ZEROES
Lyrics: Betty Comden and Adolph Green
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh
BIG SPENDER
Lyrics: Dorothy Fields
NEVER ENOUGH
Lyrics: David Zippel
I WANNA BE YOURS
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

NEVER MET A MAN I DIDN'T LIKE
LILLIAS WHITE
Lyrics: Betty Comden and Adolph Green

THE OLDEST PROFESSION
LILLIAS WHITE
Lyrics: Ira Gasman

ONLY THE REST OF MY LIFE
RACHEL YORK, DAVID BURNHAM
Lyrics: David Zippel

LITTLE ME
BILLY STRITCH, LILLIAS WHITE
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

THE MEASURE OF LOVE
SALLY MAYES, HOWARD MCGILLIN
Lyrics: David Zippel

SOME KIND OF MUSIC
BILLY STRITCH
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

WITH EVERY BREATH I TAKE
SALLY MAYES
Lyrics: David Zippel

HEY, LOOK ME OVER
RACHEL YORK
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

THE DOODLING SONG
RACHEL YORK
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

WITCHCRAFT
DAVID BURNHAM
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

I'D GIVE THE WORLD
HOWARD MCGILLIN
Lyrics: David Zippel

THOSE HANDS
LILLIAS WHITE, CAST
Lyrics: Marilyn and Alan Bergman

IT STARTED WITH A DREAM
CAST
Lyrics: David Zippel

MEGAMIX:
CAST
IT'S NOT WHERE YOU START
Lyrics: Dorothy Fields
IF MY FRIENDS COULD SEE ME NOW
Lyrics: Dorothy Fields
HEY THERE, GOOD TIMES
Lyrics: Michael Stewart
WE'RE NOTHING WITHOUT YOU
Lyrics: David Zippel
 

THE BEST IS YET TO COME
CAST
Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh

 

 

Lillias White
photo by Carol Rosegg

The Best Is Yet to Come sold out when it played the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, CA, in 2009. The show's New York premiere plays Theater A, the 199-seat house at 59E59 Theaters. It's a Rubicon Theatre Company production (Karyl Lynn Burns and James O'Neil, artistic directors), in association with David Elzer and Barbara Meister. It is co-produced by Dottie and Bernie Novatt, Charles Hughen – Stage Two, Marvin Kahan, Normand Kurtz, and Dean, Justin Scribner and Dale Joan Young. The executive producer is Michael Jackowitz.

Tickets range $45-$65. For information, visit TicketCentral.com or 59e59.org.

*

The Santa Barbara Independent's Indy Awards for theatre recognized the show in two categories in 2010: Zippel was cited for his direction of the production by Rubicon Theatre Company, and Tony Award winner Lillias White (and a 2010 nominee for her work in Fela!) won for her performance. Zippel accepted his award in person at the late May 2010 ceremony.

For her work in The Best Is Yet to Come, White had previously been nominated by the L.A. Ovation Awards, in the category of Lead Actress in a Musical. Billy Stritch got Ovation nominations for his arrangements/musical direction.

The California world premiere of The Best Is Yet to Come, devised and directed by his pal and collaborator Zippel, played the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, CA, July 9-Aug. 2, 2009. The starry cast included David Burnham, Jason Graae, Sally Mayes, Julia Murney, Billy Stritch and White.

Coleman, a native New Yorker, was born Seymour Kaufman. He played classical music at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall as a child, but as an adult heard the siren call of jazz, pop and theatre music and never looked back. Working with the lyricist Carolyn Leigh in his early writing career in the late 1950s and '60s, he penned such hits as "Witchcraft," "The Best Is Yet to Come," "You Fascinate Me So" and "When in Rome."

Leigh and Coleman would venture into the musical theatre, writing the scores to the Lucille Ball vehicle Wildcat (which offered the tune "Hey, Look Me Over!") and Little Me (which boasted "Real Live Girl" and "I've Got Your Number"). There was friction in the relationship. Pianist Coleman and his Cy Coleman Trio were playing engagements around the country, and Leigh wanted him to stay put in New York and focus on writing musicals.

Though Coleman did settle down to a theatre-writing life, he and Leigh did not write another show. With the legendary lyricist Dorothy Fields, he wrote "Where Am I Going?," "If My Friends Could See Me Now," "Big Spender" and "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This" for Sweet Charity, Bob Fosse and Neil Simon's 1966 reimagining of Federico Fellini's "Nights of Cabiria." In the musical fable, Gwen Verdon starred as a dance hall hostess named Charity Hope Valentine (in the film, Cabiria is a prostitute).

The show's second Broadway revival (following the Fosse-staged first revival in 1987) surfaced in 2004-05, months after Coleman's death, although the composer had signed off on changes.

The performance schedule is Tuesday-Thursday at 7 PM PM; Friday at 8 PM; Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM; and Sunday at 3 PM and 7 PM. Please note, there is no 7 PM performance on June 12. The regular ticket price is $65 ($45.50 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit www.59e59.org.

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