Marvin Hamlisch’s funeral service this morning. I didn’t think I could write anything about this. But now I feel like I just have to. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced. At 7:30AM, I was walking through Central Park, wearing all black, nervous and sad. Walking into Temple Emanu-El on 66th Street, within minutes, I was part of a 600-person choir rehearsal, all singing “What I Did For Love”. Hundreds of people. Some of our greatest composers and lyricists were there, amongst the chorus, honoring Marvin, including Sheldon Harnick, David Shire, Andrew Lippa, Maury Yeston, and Craig Carnelia and David Zippel, two of his great collaborators. I stood next to Anita Gillette, in front of a row of A Chorus Line alums, and behind Jonathan Tunick. And it was the most unbelievable thing.
When I was little, my parents took me to see a lot of live theater. At first, our excursions were primarily to community theaters and semi-professional productions. When I was eight years old, they took me to my first “first-class” production, the first national tour of Big River. I was already familiar with the show from our cassette of the original cast recording, but I was so swept away by the magic of theater that I was hooked for life. Before long, that cassette was supplemented by a paperback copy of the script and the piano/vocal selections of the score. I loved the show so much, I wanted to own a piece of it, and this was how I did it.