Sammy Davis, Jr. Is Inspiration for New Musical I Will, I Can, With Score by Oscar Nominee Patrick Williams
By Kenneth Jones
July 30, 2012
Producers Arlie Cone and Steven Hayes are continuing development of a new musical based loosely on the life and career of Sammy Davis, Jr., which is now entitled I Will, I Can.
In an earlier exploration, the piece was called Yes I Can, but the work is now on a “new path,” a spokesman for the producers said. A winter 2012 workshop reported by Playbill did not materialize.
The show will be composed by the four-time Emmy- and two-time Grammy Award-winning composer Patrick Williams, who was Oscar-nominated for his score for the 1979 film “Breaking Away.” A composer and arranger of jazz orchestral works and film and television scores, Williams is making his musical theatre debut with this project.
Jules Aaron is writing the book, with Gail Kantor penning the lyrics. Sam Scalamoni (associate director of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on Broadway and beyond) remains the director.
Kantor is a founding member of the original Harlettes, Bette Midler‘s background trio, and is a jingle writer and producer.
Left to Right – Bette Midler, Son of Svengoolie, Merle Miller, Gail Kantor, Melissa Manchester.
Aaron is a playwright and director who was the former head of the California Institute for the Arts MFA Directing Program, as well as the head of the M.A. Program at the University of California Riverside. His plays and musicals as writer and director have won 24 Drama-Logue Awards, four Bay Area Theatre Awards, and one L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award.
The producers are planning a workshop and are aiming the show at Broadway in 2013. No casting or production dates have been announced.
Together producers Cone and Hayes produced Blues in the Night starring Carol Woods and Maurice Hines in San Francisco in 2007; it won multiple San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards, including principal performance in a musical prizes for both Woods and Hines.
Hayes is a prominent entertainment attorney specializing in intellectual property disputes whose clients in music, art and theatre have included Paul Simon, Woody Allen, Gloria Estefan and the estates of Jonathan Larson and Andy Warhol.
Scalamoni directed the tour of Nickelodeon’s Storytime Live! and the tour of The Gazillion Bubble Show. He is the artistic director of Skyline Theatre Company in New Jersey.
Sammy Davis Jr. (1925-1990) was the vivacious Harlem-born triple threat – singer, dancer, actor – seen in nightclubs, on Broadway (Mr. Wonderful and Golden Boy), in films (“Robin and the 7 Hoods,” “Sweet Charity,” “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Tap”) and heard on recordings. Some of his memorable recordings include “The Candy Man,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “Gonna Build a Mountain,” “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” “Too Close for Comfort,” “What Kind of Fool Am I?,” among others.