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Marvin Hamlisch to appear with Florida Orchestra

Marvin Hamlisch is a musical jack of all trades, composing for stage, film and television. He's responsible for some monster hits, such The Way We Were for Barbra Streisand and the score for The Sting, which won an Oscar and sparked a revival of interest in ragtime and the music of Scott Joplin. And then there's A Chorus Line, for which he won a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize in 1976. • I enjoy the Hamlisch hits as much as anyone, but my favorites from his catalog run to the more obscure. Here are five of them.

1 Smile is the great lost Hamlisch musical from 1986, adapted from the movie about a beauty pageant in small-town California. A song cut from the show that always makes me laugh is Nightlife in Santa Rosa, with incomparably witty lyrics by Carolyn Leigh.

2 What I Did for Love is the showstopper from A Chorus Line, but it's actually the lamest song in the score. For my money, from a standpoint of musical craftsmanship, the best song is At the Ballet.

3 The Swimmer. Hamlisch has composed more than 40 film scores, but I have an enduring fondness for the soundtrack from his first, The Swimmer (1968). The movie is a dark allegory adapted from a John Cheever short story in which Burt Lancaster is an advertising man at the end of his rope who does the crawl across suburban Connecticut from one swimming pool to another.

4 Sweet Smell of Success was a flop on Broadway in 2002, but the jazzy score by Hamlisch and lyricist Craig Carnelia is worth a listen.

5 Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows, the bubblegum single Hamlisch wrote for Lesley Gore. Check out the video on YouTube of Lesley singing this on a bus from the 1965 movie Ski Party.

Hamlisch, 65, will conduct, play piano and tell stories with the Florida Orchestra at 8 p.m. Saturday at Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. He'll be joined by Broadway vocalist Stephen Lehew. $20-$67. (727) 892-3337 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286;

John Fleming, Times performing arts critic

Marvin Hamlisch to appear with Florida Orchestra 03/10/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 3:30am]
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