The Best is Yet to Come
nytheatre.com review by David Gordon
May 22, 2011
I found myself craving a dirty martini during The Best is Yet to Come, David Zippel’s revue of Cy Coleman’s music at 59E59. This classy, 90-minute concert features a host of Coleman’s hits, performed by a kickin’ band and the talent-packed company of David Burnham, Sally Mayes, Howard McGillin, Billy Stritch, Lillias White, and Rachel York.
Revues such as this can easily devolve into cheese, but despite one instance towards the end and some occasionally eye-rolling choreography by the usually reliable Lorin Latarro, Zippel keeps that from happening. And while the stage isn’t large enough to keep the performers from occasionally knocking into one another and Douglas W. Schmidt’s bandstand set, they certainly shine like the Broadway stars they are.
White stands out as the production’s most valuable player, sinking her teeth deep into numbers such as “Don’t Ask a Lady” and knocking “The Oldest Profession,” from Coleman and Ira Gasman’s The Life, for which she won a Tony, clear out of the stratosphere. Mayes comes closest to finding herself in the same realm, with a particularly thrilling rendition of “With Every Breath I Take” from City of Angels, which was written with Zippel. McGillin is in fine voice, delivering “You Fascinate Me So” and other numbers with aplomb, while Burnham underplays his big solo, the classic “Witchcraft.” York brings a great deal of sexiness to a variety of solos, including a jazzy arrangement of Wildcat’s “Hey, Look Me Over” and “The Doodlin’ Song,” originally written for an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Stritch, who also leads the 8-member band, relishes his opportunity to deliver “It Amazes Me.” Collectively, the company and musicians look smashing in William Ivey Long’s elegant costumes.
What disappointed me was the lack of diversity. Of the 30-odd songs, more than 20 were written in collaboration with either Carolyn Leigh or Zippel. There were only two songs from my favorite Coleman score (with Dorothy Fields), Sweet Charity, truncated versions of “Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now.” Others may feel the same about the similar underrepresentation of On the Twentieth Century, Barnum, and The Will Rogers Follies.
Still, The Best is Yet to Come is a more-than-enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, with martini or without.