East Ridge at Cutler Bay resident, the talented Lee Goldsmith, has a treasure trove of material from his days as a professional lyricist.
Recently, he and his agent/partner, Jeff Haller, received exciting news that the play, “Chaplin: A Memory as Entertainment” for which Goldsmith wrote lyrics will be performed in August 2018. This will be the third time the play is performed across the pond on English soil.
Once Broadway-bound, the play became an award-winning South Florida regional theater title with Lee’s lyrics. It’s a biographical musical about the early days of film star Charlie Chaplin including his life in London.
The play has an interesting backstory, according to Goldsmith and Haller. In 1982, money problems prevented the show from making it to Broadway. At that time, Tony Award winner Joe Layton (“Barnum” and “George M!”) was to direct and choreograph the show, Goldsmith (“Shine”!) was writing the lyrics and the music was by composer Roger Anderson (“Shine!”).
When it didn’t make it to Broadway, the authors revised the show for a 1993 world premiere in Miami, where “Chaplin” won the South Florida’s prestigious Carbonell Award for “Best New Work”.
Goldsmith wasn’t always a lyricist. He had a successful career as comic book writer and worked for the famous DC Comics for many years. When Warner Brothers bought DC Comics and offered Lee an opportunity to relocate to California, declined because his roots were in New York and Florida.
In 1970, a new door opened when a contact at a theater publishing house in New York introduced him to composer Lawrence Hurwit. Goldsmith had always wanted to be a lyricist, having been introduced to musical theater as a child when he first saw Ethel Merman in “Anything Goes” on Broadway.
With Hurwit, he wrote “Sextet”, a Broadway musical starring TV’s Designing Woman star Dixie Carter. It began previews on Feb. 20, 1974, and opened March 3 at the Bijou Theater on 45th Street. Goldsmith collaborated on the book and wrote the lyrics. While the show only had 14 previews and nine Broadway performances, it was considered a trendsetter as an adult musical.
With composer Roger Anderson, Goldsmith wrote “Chaplin”. The musical had its UK premiere in 2012 directed by Martin Conner and produced by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. It was arranged for a 21-piece orchestra and was considered a theatrically rich musical.
It premiered in the same theater where Chaplin performed as a vaudevillian.
The play’s script explores Charlie Chaplin’s evolution from his birth in 1889 to the official appearance of “The Tramp” in 1915. It traces Chaplin’s struggle to break free of his humble beginnings and follow a question for identity and fulfillment.
Over the years, Goldsmith and Anderson collaborated on seven musicals. Goldsmith feels their musical, “Abe”, about the life of Abraham Lincoln is a perfect production for a high school drama class since the play features a large cast of 32 characters and the musical score uses bold, melodic and traditional musical theater styles.
Lee and Jeff are hopeful this play as has “Chaplin” will have a new life.