In his director's note for The Best Is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman, David Zippel aptly refers to "the dazzling depth and breadth" of Coleman's work. Dazzling depth and breadth indeed--in fact, you might believe that the wonderful songs in this 90-minute show were the work of half a dozen composers.
The band is small (eight men) but robust, and the orchestrations by Don Sebesky and musical direction by Billy Stritch (who also sings) are excellent. Lillias White raises the roof, as always, and Sally Mayes turns each number into a well-told story. These are the pluses, which are major.
The minuses, unfortunately, are also major. Zippel's direction is so cutesy-smarmy that I wondered if Lonny Price had directed the show. To both men, I say the same thing: Trust the songs! They can stand on their own! That's why you're honoring this composer with an entire show! Also, Rachel York is so on that she seems to be doing a take-off on herself. And Howard McGillan and David Burnham give imitations of lounge lizards worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit.
Still, it's hard to fault a show that includes "The Best Is Yet to Come." And "Nobody Does It Like Me." And "Witchcraft." And "If My Friends Could See Me Now." And "Hey, Look Me Over." And "Little Me." And "Big Spender." And "Hey There, Good Times." If only all the songs had been performed as well as they were written!
(Reviewer ticket, eighth row on the aisle.)