Marvin Hamlisch promises to light up the sky in a unique way this weekend at the Hollywood Bowl.
The composer, who has won three Oscars, four Grammys, two Emmys, a Tony, three Golden Globes and the Pulitzer Prize, is conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Tony Award-winning actor Nathan Lane in a concert of movie music and musicals.
"I told the people at the Hollywood Bowl, 'Tell me what's really selling,' " says Hamlisch, 53, the composer of "The Way We Were," "Sophie's Choice," "The Mirror Has Two Faces" and the landmark musical "A Chorus Line."
"I expected them to say certain concerts because of certain people. But they said to me, 'To be honest with you, there's a big concert coming up that has fireworks.' So I said, 'OK. I'll bring my own fireworks.' "
But don't look for sparklers or elaborate shooting rockets. Hamlisch's "fireworks" consist of 17 dancers strutting their stuff to the finale of "A Chorus Line."
"I wrote an overture for 'A Chorus Line' which we never used because we thought it took away from the fact that we're supposed to be at an audition," Hamlisch says.
"It's a big work. I have been using this overture in concert for many, many years, but I don't usually have the dancers. So, this is kind of an added attraction."
Hamlisch, director of the Pittsburgh and Baltimore pops orchestras, isn't just conducting his own works. "It starts out with my early movie music, particularly 'Sophie's Choice.' Then I do a thing which I have been doing a long time called the 'Nominees Medley.' This is based on the fact that many, many songs have been nominated for awards. Some of them that lost have become more famous and have withstood the test of time. I don't want to say what they are because I want it to be a surprise."
He'll also be paying tribute to the movie musicals of Gene Kelly. "The reason I'm doing that," he says, "is when I was young the thing that really started me off in the 'pops world' was going to see MGM musicals.
"I was particularly thrilled with the ones of Gene Kelly. I remember seeing 'An American in Paris' and 'Singin' in the Rain' and going, 'Oh, my God.' "
Hamlisch said Lane will be "doing some wonderful songs about either movies or people in the movies."
Hamlisch refers to the star of "The Birdcage" as his long-lost brother. "We have kind of a New York energy," he says.
Lane was also instrumental in planning the concert with Hamlisch. "I first met him over the phone and then I went out and saw him in California. This is not one of those concerts that you meet the day of and say, 'What are we going to do?' This is not only a planned concert, but it's been planned for the Hollywood Bowl. A concert that has been tailor-made for the Hollywood Bowl."
The second half of the program is devoted to both Broadway and movie musicals, including the three tunes Hamlisch wishes he had written: Ira and George Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's "Somewhere" and Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns."
Hamlisch recalls getting hooked on writing musicals after seeing "The Pajama Game" on Broadway in the mid-'50s. "I remember sitting there and hearing the song 'Hey, There.' In that scene, [John Raitt] is singing and it turns out the [dictating machine] is on. All of a sudden, you start hearing him from the machine singing back. That was the start of my seeing what could be done on stage and how theatrical things could be. I thought, 'What a wonderful medium to write for. It's just so great.' I am very happy to be part of that world."