Without Marvin Hamlisch, some uncertainty for ‘Nutty Professor’

Marvin Hamlisch leads the Pasadena Pops at a concert.
Marvin Hamlisch leads the Pasadena Pops at a concert.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

“The Nutty Professor” was the last stage musical that Marvin Hamlisch completed before the composer died unexpectedly on Monday at 68. The show, directed by and based on the movie that starred Jerry Lewis, is having its world premiere in Nashville through Aug. 19, with an eye on Broadway after.

Producers said Tuesday that Hamlisch delivered a finished score. But some uncertainty lingers over the musical, specifically concerning the changes or tweaks to the show that could be required following its out-of-town tryout.

Musicals usually undergo at least some minor adjustments on their road to Broadway. These changes can range from a simple matter of tightening certain scenes to the addition or subtraction of entire songs.


The creative team of “The Nutty Professor” has not yet begun to plan for those possibilities, according to Ned McLeod, an executive producer for the show, and Mac Pirkle, the musical’s Nashville producer.

They said in a joint interview that they recently spoke with lyricist Rupert Holmes -- who co-wrote the songs with Hamlisch -- and that they are still focused on bringing the show to Broadway, though nothing official has been announced. They also said they have been meeting with people who represent touring shows.

PHOTOS: Marvin Hamlisch | 1944-2012

“The Nutty Professor” features about 20 songs written by Hamlisch and Holmes. The musical, adapted from the 1963 movie, tells the story of a socially awkward scientist who creates a smooth-talking alter ego for himself.

McLeod and Pirkle said Hamlisch had been expected to travel to Nashville by this weekend to see the show at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. They said he had worked with Lewis on the musical for close to six years and was present during rehearsals in New York and Nashville.

Cast members paid tribute to Hamlisch on Twitter and Facebook on Tuesday. On the show’s official Facebook page, organizers posted the following message: “Thank you Marvin, for all you gave us. We are honored to be singing your songs.”


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