Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and More Sing the Praises (and the Music) of Marvin Hamlisch at Juilliard Gathering

By Blake Ross
19 Sep 2012

Barbra Streisand

Company members from The Nutty Professor, Hamlisch's Broadway-aimed final musical, which was produced in a tryout this summer, sang "While I Still Have the Time," announced by pianist Kevin Cole as "one of the last songs Marvin Hamlisch ever wrote." The lyrics, by Rupert Holmes, were especially apt: "While I still have the time/I'll stop and savor each drop of time."

Aretha Franklin, looking lovely in a stark white suit, appeared next, singing "Nobody Does It Better," a song Hamlisch wrote in 1977 with Carole Bayer Sager for the James Bond flick "The Spy Who Loved Me." She closed with the spiritual hymn "Deep River."

The final spot of the evening was left to Streisand. "Marvin…Marvin…" she said in her unmistakable Brooklyn accent. "The name itself makes me Smile." She recounted the time she first met Hamlisch in 1963 when he was the rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl. He also, as Streisand remembered, "got coffee for people, as well as playing the piano. And because I didn't drink coffee, he was assigned to get me a chocolate donut. But instead of just one, he always brought me two…and so our love affair began." Then the unmistakable melody from "The Way We Were" started to play on the piano, Streisand did her famous hum from the opening and a pin drop could be heard throughout the very crowded house.

And then she launched into a solemn version of "Through the Eyes of Love" from "Ice Castles," changing the lyrics to: "You will always be my friend, the memories never end/You were always there for me/ Anything I needed, I could count on you/ A friend so true/Looking through the eyes of love."

She ended the evening with this simple thought: "If you believe in the spirit living on, and I hope you do, then maybe Marvin is here."

(Blake Ross is editor of Playbill magazine. Follow her on Twitter @PlaybillBlake.)

Read's obituary about the life of Marvin Hamlisch

Read's earlier report about the music-filled Aug. 14 public funeral of Marvin Hamlisch. looks back at Hamlisch's stage work:

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Barbra Streisand
Photo by ©Nan Melville 2012