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Sweet Smell of Success

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The Broadway musical Sweet Smell of Success, based on the 1950s film, earned Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. Its star John Lithgow, who won the Tony Award for Best Actor, describes Marvin Hamlisch’s score as having hallucinogenic colors. Hear parts of the music and see annotated pages from the score in this film excerpt from Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love.

“It was such an entertainment, but it’s a drunken late night entertainment, his [Hamlisch’s] music was like people spinning out of control,” says Lithgow.

Theater composer and singer Craig Carnelia collaborated with Hamlisch on Sweet Smell of Success lyrics. Like the lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman, he was amazed at Marvin’s immediate ability to translate an idea from his head into music.

“With Marvin he’d get a musical idea and then there was no disconnect, between what he might want to invent and what his hands did,” says Carnelia. “Most of us will have an idea and think what is that how do I do that, there was nothing like that. It was just straight stuff coming out, it was astounding to watch and to be in the room with and I always was in the room when he was inventing.”

Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love premieres nationally Friday, December 27, 2013 at 9 p.m. on PBS
(check local listings)

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