Cye Coleman: The Early Years
Born Seymour Kaufman in New York City in 1929, Cye Coleman was one of most well-known composers on Broadway, winning several Tony® Awards along the way. Hiw career, however, began much earlier than his Broadway years.
Coleman was a child prodigy with the piano, and between the ages of six and nine played in the fabled recitals halls of New York, including Steinway Hall, Town Hall, and Carnegie Hall. As a young man, he created the Cy Coleman Trio, a group wildly popular at all of the best local clubs. Many of their recordings hit the tops of the charts!
Cye Coleman: The Broadway Years
Coleman’s Broadway Career began with his collaboration with Carolyn Leigh on the 1960 show Wildcat, which also happened to be the Broadway premier for Lucille Ball. Several hit songs came out of the Coleman-Leigh partnership, including “Witchcraft” and “The Best is Yet to Come”. When Lucille Ball left Wildcat due to illness, the pair moved on to a show based on a book by Neil Simon, based on a novel by Patrick Dennis, called Little Me.
Coleman next worked with Dorothy Fields, whom he met at a party in 1964. Together, they co-wrote Sweet Charity, another play based on a book by Neil Simon. Fields passed away in 1974, but Coleman went on to write many more shows, including I Love My Wife, On the Twentieth Century, and Home Again.
Perhaps one of his best known works, Barnum opened in 1980 and starred Jim Dale and Glenn Close. Coleman served as composer as well as producer while Michael Stewart wrote the lyrics. Based on a book by Mark Bramble, Barnum follows the life of P.T. Barnum and his circus between the years of 1835 and 1880, was. The original Broadway production ran for 854 performances and, among other productions around the world, included a long run on London’s West End.
Some trivia from Barnum: Michael Crawford, who originated the title role in Phantom of the Opera, starred in the West End production, tumbling and dancing and tight-rope walking (which he learned for the role!), all while singing!
For his work, Cye Coleman was nominated and won multiple Tony Awards, including nominations for Best Musical and Best Original Score for Barnum, and a win for Best Original Score for The Will Rogers Follies. He was also elected to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1981 among many other honors and awards.
Cye Coleman: The Musical Works
Cye Coleman wrote many, many songs overs his decades-long career, many of which have become well-known, main-stream pieces you may not even realize were written by Coleman:
- “The Best is Yet to Come”
- “Pass Me By”
- “Big Spender”
He also composed scores for films, including:
- Father Goose
- The Art of Love
- Family Business
- Garbo Talks
Coleman is also known for writing the instrumental “Playboy’s Theme”, which to this day is synonymous with the magazine of the same name.
If you love show tunes, if you love Barnum as much as I do, I have an entire library full of music for you to learn. Whether you’re taking singing lessons or piano lessons, we’ll have fun together at my music studio learning all the music you love.
Contact me today for professional music lessons and don’t forget to check the Minnich Music Facebook for videos and trivia on Cye Coleman this month!