The Last Lions of Broadway


Two Who Prolonged
The Broadway Musical´s
Golden Age
CY COLEMAN (1929-2004)
JERRY HERMAN (1931-2019)

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The Golden Age of Broadway [and American Popular Song in general] seemed to be breathing its last in the late 50s/early 60s with the passing of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Loewe. However, two careers were just beginning at that time, and it´s fair to say that Cy Coleman and Jerry Herman managed to add several decades of upbeat, melodic Musical Theatre magic for the masses.

Cy Coleman´s childhood roots were in classical music, but he was drawn early to jazz and virtually every other musical style. His earliest pre-Broadway songwriting success dates from 1952 (“Why Try To Change Me Now,” “I´m Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life”) and flowered in Tin Pan Alley and on Broadway with the gifted lyricist Carolyn Leigh: “Witchcraft,” “You Fascinate Me So,” “It Amazes Me,” the score for Lucille Ball´s WILDCAT (“Hey, Look Me Over”); pop standards “The Best Is Yet To Come,” “I Walk A Little Faster,” LITTLE ME (“A Real Live Girl,” “I´ve Got Your Number,” “On The Other Side Of The Tracks”); “When In Rome.”

His partnership with Leigh over, Coleman would team up with the greatest of all American female lyricists, Dorothy Fields, for two Broadway outings: 1966´s SWEET CHARITY  (“Big Spender,” “There´s Gotta Be Something Better Than This,” “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” I´m A Brass Band,” “Where Am I Going?”) and 1974´s SEESAW (“Nobody Does It Like Me”). Coleman´s continuous presence on Broadway right to the end of his life (2004) was one long inventive, melodic gift: I LOVE MY WIFE, ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, BARNUM (“The Colors Of My Life”), CITY OF ANGELS (“You Can Always Count On Me,” “With Every Breath I Take”), WILL ROGERS FOLLIES (“No Man Left For Me,” “Never Met A Man I Didn´t Like”), THE LIFE.

Jerry Herman´s writing life began early at his parents´ summer camp and found first success with the Israeli-themed MILK AND HONEY (1961). Attracting the attention of producer David Merrick led to back-to-back blockbusters: 1964´s HELLO DOLLY (“Hello Dolly,” “Before The Parade Passes By,” “Put On Your Sunday Clothes,” “It Only Takes A Moment,” “So Long, Dearie”) and 1966´s MAME (“Mame,” “It´s Today,” “Open A New Window,” “We Need A Little Christmas,” “If He Walked Into My Life,” “Bosom Buddies”). Neither DEAR WORLD (“Kiss Her Now, “I Don’t Want To Know”) nor MACK AND MABEL (“I Won´t Send Roses,” “Time Heals Everything”) would enjoy critical success despite some good songs. LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (1983) was a smash: “Look Over There,” “Song In The Sand,” “I Am What I Am,” “The Best Of Times”.

Coleman´s and Herman´s respective places in our musical history are secure, having provided audiences with the pleasure & innocence thought gone forever after the 1960s: melodic, optimistic, fun, hummable, splashy Broadway Musicals as late as the 1990s, courtesy of the talented two, Cy Coleman and Jerry Herman.

If you would like to engage Fred Miller for one of his Lectures-in-Song, please contact him directly at any time. For a full listing of all Lectures, click here.

Fred Miller’s Lectures-In-Song comprise a series of solo programs, each an historical, anecdotal and musical profile of some great personality or important aspect of American Popular Song. These Lectures are delivered by singer/pianist/narrator Miller at the piano, and each reflects his lifetime passion and appreciation for great music. He studied classical piano in his hometown of Albuquerque from ages 7-15 but early on gave up any notion of music as a profession. At that time, Fred assumed a musical career was either one devoted to the rigid discipline of classical music or being a freewheeling rock star, and he accurately decided he had no aptitude for either. However, at age 22, upon hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing Cole Porter, he found his calling and life’s mission.

Through the Seventies and Eighties, Miller studied and absorbed in minute detail the life and times and songs of nearly all the great American composers and lyricists who thrived during Broadway & Hollywood’s Golden Age between the two World Wars. In 1987, he founded Silver Dollar Productions in order to produce operettas, dramas, musicals and small cabarets. Silver Dollar Productions required ensemble casts, props, costumes and, most significantly, the challenges of publicity and selling tickets, and for a dozen busy years, the company presented an unbroken string of varied and highly lauded performances.

In 1999, Miller was simultaneously underwritten by both his local Hunterdon County Library and the Art Alliance of Philadelphia to present a series of six solo Lectures-In-Song, each devoted to one of the premiere Broadway/Hollywood songwriters: George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.

In presenting history, biography and psychology while sitting at a piano singing the superlative songs of his heroes, Miller has found a single performing medium that utilizes most of his intellectual and musical passions.The list of Lectures-In-Song that began with six in 1999 is now more than seventy(and growing!), a joyful tribute to the boundlessly rich field of American Popular Song.