I Left My Heart

A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett

Created by David Grapes & Todd Olson

Arrangements by Vince di Mura

 

Production Requirements

Cast
3 Men

Orchestration
Piano
Bass
Drums
Trumpet

Setting
Unit Set

I LEFT MY HEART sports a thrilling score of 40 standards all recorded by Bennett, including “Because Of You,” “Stranger In Paradise,” “Top Hat, White Tie And Tails,” “The Best Is Yet To Come,” “On Green Dolphin Street,” “When Will The Bells Ring For Me,” “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams,” “I Wanna Be Around,” “The Good Life,” “Rags To Riches,” and his best-known hit, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.” Your audiences will go wild over the four decades of music that Bennett recorded, from his early top-40 hits, jazz recordings with Basie, Stan Getz, and Bill Evans, to his torch songs, film scores, all the way to his now infamous MTV unplugged, which introduced him to a whole new generation of listeners.

 

I Left My Heart – Musical Numbers

Act I

Opening Set
Steppin’ Out by Irving Berlin
Top Hat, White Tie and Tails by Irving Berlin
Plenty of Money and You by Al Dubin and Harry Warren

Early Years Set
Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Al Dubin and Harry Warren
Because of You by Arthur Hammerstein and Dudley Wilkinson
Stranger in Paradise by Robert Wright and George Forrest
The Best is Yet to Come by Carolyn Leigh and Cy Coleman

Crazy Rhythm Set
Crazy Rhythm by Joseph Meyer, Roger Wolfe Kahn and Irving Caeser
Lullaby of Broadway by Al Dubin and Harry Warren
Let’s Face the Music and Dance by Irving Berlin

A Tribute to Friends, Part I
I Got Rhythm by George and Ira Gershwin
Night and Day by Cole Porter
That Old Black Magic by Harold Arlen and John H. Mercer
Embraceable You by George and Ira Gershwin

Part II
I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good by Roy Alford and William May
It’s Wonderful by Irving Berlin
Come Rain or Come Shine by Harold Arlen and John H. Mercer

Part III
Puttin’ on the Ritz by Irving Berlin
It Don’t Mean a Thing by Duke Ellingtom

Act II

The Film Set
Love Story (Where Do I Begin?) by Carl Sigman and Francis Lai
The Days of Wine and Roses by Henry Mancini and John H. Mercer
As Time Goes By by Herman Hupfield
The Shadow of Your Smile by Paul Francis Webster and John Mandel

The Quiet Set
But Beautiful by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke
A Child is Born by Bill Evans
Fly Me to the Moon by Bart Howard
Street of Dreams by Samuel Lewis and Victor Young

The Last Blast
The Very Thought of You by Ray Noble
I’m Just a Lucky So & So by Duke Ellington
I Wanna Be Around by Sadie Vimmerstedt and John H. Mercer
The Good LIfe by Jack Reardon and Sascha Distel
Rags to Riches by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross

I Left My Heart in San Francisco by Douglass Cross and George Cory
Make Someone Happy …….… by Adolph Green and Betty Comden
I’m Just a Lucky So and So (Reprise: Exit Music)

Reviews

See this little show and you will not be disappointed! On an entertainment scale of 1-10, it’s a 10+.

“I Left my Heart,” a salute to the music of Tony Bennett, is a toe-tapping, hand-clapping, finger-snapping musical masterpiece.

The show is thoroughly entertaining, regardless of audience members’ age or musical tastes. If you’re not a fan of Tony Bennett when you walk in the door, you’re bound to be one when you leave.

I Left My Heart is the brainchild of David Grapes and Todd Olson, the co-creators of My Way: A Musical Tribute To Frank Sinatra, and like its sister show, features one hit song after another interspersed with biographical tidbits, making for a marvelous evening of musical magic.

As for the songwriters represented in I Left My Heart, they don’t come any better than Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Michel LeGrand, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer, and Cole Porter, to name just a few.

Besides being talented, Bennett has been incredibly wise through his career. He picked the best songs by the finest songwriters to perform and record, and he fell in love with the art of singing — and that’s completely clear in this hour-and-a-half revue rich with the hits by Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen and even Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

I liked the Sinatra piece a lot; I loved the latest one tributing Tony Bennett. Maybe because Sinatra has received many tributes and Tony Bennett, none – and as the boys say, “It’s high time. Long overdue!” Important to remember that this is not a Bennett impersonation nor are the arrangements necessarily exactly like Bennett’s; it is a loving salute to his music. Ingenious Vince Di Mura is once again musical director of this stylish little theatrical concert featuring the talents of three terrific actors/singers, who make the show shine even brighter.

There are a few performers around today who relish the Gershwin and Porter standards and perform them. But Tony Bennett is one of the few surviving artists who can say they worked with the likes of Count Basie, Art Blakey and Herbie Mann, while singing and reviving those tunes at a time when they were considered dusty relics. I Left My Heart seems to possess a similar mission—reminding those of a certain age, and informing those born after the advent of MTV—of the beauty and wit and enduring power of those American classics.

“I Left My Heart” is a fast-moving, revue featuring 32 Bennett hits, from his 1949 breakthrough to his re-emergence as a Great American Songbook reviver in the 1980s-’90s. The music is genially sprinkled through with biographical tidbits and anecdotes.

Blues guitarist B.B. King once said this about Tony Bennett: “I’ve met two presidents in office, the pope, Pavarotti and Tony Bennett – and to be near him was the highlight of my life.” Well, we may not have met him, but “I Left My heart” gets us close.

What could be more entertaining than spending a couple of hours listening to the tunes made famous by Tony Bennett, the guy Frank Sinatra called “the greatest singer?” No matter what age, not much.

For more than half a century, Tony Bennett has shown unsurpassed taste in selecting material by great American songwriters. That’s one of the many things that makes I Left My Heart, the new American Stage tribute to Bennett and his music, such an enjoyable and unforgettable evening.

Character Descriptions

About the Tenors – The model for this cast was always THE THREE TENORS phenomenon; three singers singing great songs – sometimes as trio, sometimes a duo, sometimes solo – with the music and the singers sharing the stage equally, unburdened by a heavy book. It was always about the music, primarily.

But it also needed to be quintessentially Bennett. What does that mean relative to characters? First of all, they needed to be three romantic, handsome tenors, who on their own could captivate and seduce an audience, but when all together provide a force from which you could not look away. Alone, engaging; in duet, arresting; and all together, thrilling. That’s a challenge. Early on there was the thought of including one female in the cast; the prevailing thinking, however, was that it was the women in the audience that provided that engine for this very masculine event, and surely in the premiere we played several key songs with a singer at the edge of the stage, locking on one woman, and singing it all to her. She got it, the audience got it, and it was exciting.

However, this needs to be said. The audition announcement read, “Roles to be cast: three romantic tenors of exceptional vocal skills, including a high C, who have knowledge of jazz styles, and who can move well. THIS PRODUCTION IS IN NO WAY AN IMITATION OR IMPERSONATION OF MR. BENNETT.” And that’s the truth. Like MY WAY, any imitation would fall far short.

There is a great line from a music critic who summed up Bennett’s aura as “the spell of a singer in love with singing.”

Tenor #1 is a young man in his 20’s, blond, boyish, with an arresting voice and infinite range. This singer has a softer touch and needs a solid high C. He has many of the more Italian high notes in the show, like “Fly Me to the Moon” and “The Very Thought of you.”

Tenor #2 should be African-American (if possible) not just for the specific jazz material (like “I’m Just a Lucky So and So” and “Crazy Rhythm”) but also for the feel and style of the rhythmic scheme. He must have a high C as well. This actor should also be the best dancer/mover of the trio.

Tenor #3 has a dark complexion, (any race or ethnicity) romantic, 40-something, sophisticated high baritone. This singer needs to posses a more mature sound because of the song assignation. His standout numbers include “A Child is Born” and “The Shadow of Your Smile.” More importantly, he must have a high Bb in full voice.

Creator’s Notes

The Setting -The setting should be “Bennett-esque,” which is to say part club, part concert hall, part recording studio, part Las Vegas. So, as for literal setting, the set for I LEFT MY HEART can and should be inspired by those things. Places in which Bennett would have thrived and felt at home are the best choice. We think that the most important question to ask is this, “would Bennett have done a gig here at any time in his life?” If the answer is yes, then it is the right choice. The American Stage production put the musicians at the center of the stage (which the creators both believe is essential), so that the singers could easily move in and around them freely. This allowed for optimum interaction between singers and accompanist, singers and drummer, singers and bass, as well as allowed the trumpet to come out and join the guys for things like “Embraceable You.”

Costumes – You only ever see Bennett in one of two things: a tux or a suit. In the premiere, Act 1 was the tux (which resonated with “Top Hat White Tie and Tails”) with of course many variations: actors always found the perfect time mid-act to work without the coat, without the tie, etc., inevitably redressing for a sharp ending to the act. Act 2 was the same way, only with beautiful Italian suits, each one – like these performers themselves – slightly different from the other. Bennett’s signature move of loosening his tie (which they all did) usually happens in the quietest section of Act 2, when it was simply a single singer alone in a lighting special, at the piano, working as closely with the accompanist as a singer can.

Stage Properties – A black or white baby grand piano
Three functional retro (Sony) 50’s microphone on a stand center stage with long cord
Three handheld wireless mics that live on the piano center but can travel anywhere
Three bar stools
Some water with three clear glasses

Sound – Sound is THE MOST IMPORTANT TECHNICAL ELEMENT of I LEFT MY HEART. The purity of the human voice mattered to Bennett and it will matter to your audiences. The cast sings 40+ vocal selections and it is vital that we hear the words and phrasing clearly without having to strain our ears. Bennett was a true master in the art of using a microphone in performance; have you ever seen a picture of him in performance NOT using a handheld mic? Therefore, like MY WAY, I LEFT MY HEART is intended to be performed using microphones as sound reinforcement. Depending on the size of your theatre, you may also want to reinforce the piano or stand-up bass. Our recommendation is to start sound rehearsals as soon as possible and locate the best sound engineer you can find to mix the show during each performance.

Lighting – The design should be romantic, sensual and moody. The production lends itself easily to the use of dramatic specials, gobos and break-up patterns. We prefer a white cyc in the background, which can be changed to various saturated colors. All lighting should be more theatrical than realistic and evoke mood rather than place.

Pianist/Musical Director – This will perhaps the most important hiring decision to be made for the production. This person controls almost everything about the production (tempo, style, energy, etc.). The perfect player would be an EXCELLENT sight reader, who not only has played musical theatre productions, but is in their soul also a jazz player. Much of the music is orchestrated in a jazz grammar. The original pianist/arranger/musical director, Vince di Mura, did not play the show the same way twice in 15 performances and yet he never failed to support the singers or the dramatic moment on stage. In many ways, this person becomes the fourth character in the production, so look for a great musician who also has an interesting stage personality. In the premiere at American Stage this musician also served as Musical Director and conducted the stand-up bass player, drummer, and trumpet player from the piano during performance.

David Grapes and Todd Olson – 2021

Arranger’s Notes
Tony Bennett is not just a terrific singer, but an astoundingly great musician as well. His vocal range, sense of rhythm and time, and amazing instinct as a re-creative artist, is beyond compare. Though not a composer himself, his recording legacy as an interpreter of the American Popular Songbook is both original and wonderfully respectful to the composer’s intentions. It is this standard that I tried to hold to and defend as I constructed the arrangements and transcriptions for this show.

The vocal parts reference Bennett’s style and his rhythmic and melodic treatment of the music he sings. He gives little stress to the downbeat and always phrases as though bar lines did not exist. All songs are in his keys, tempos and formal structure.

The rhythm section pays a debt to Ralph Sharon (Bennett’s Musical Director) and his trio; though the piano part itself is a bit more original to my own style of comping and counter voice leading. Most importantly, the score has flavors of Bill Evans. For this reason, it is imperative that musical directors become familiar with Bennett’s jazz collaborations via the recordings. The style and traditions of all the wonderful pianists he worked with are honored here.

The use of the trumpet is very important and comes from the recordings themselves. Bennett seems to love the timbre of the muted horn and its relationship to his voice. Though primarily used to fill with quasi-improvised figuration and soli, the trumpet behaves like a fourth voice in the show and has set and extended solo treatment.

In the context of the songs in this show and our choice of material, Bennett is a jazz singer and these arrangements are constructed for jazz musicians. That does present a dilemma since “I Left My Heart” is being offered as a work for the theatre and will be confronted by theatre musicians who may not be adept at jazz practice. In the interest of providing producers with all the tools needed for the successful production of our work, we have created a version of the show which is realized in standard notation but can also be used by those musicians who are trained in jazz as a discipline.

Which leads me to the most important issue of all. We created a show that ultimately respects Mr. Bennett and have provided a score, which is authentic and complete to his vision, talent and sublime musicality.

Thank you Mr. Bennett for all the years of lovingly created music.

Vince di Mura – 2021

Creator’s Bios

David Grapes II

David Grapes II

Creator

David is an Emeritus Professor of Theatre at the University of Northern Colorado, where he served as the Founding Director of the School of Theatre Arts and Dance and Producing Artistic Director for The Little Theatre of the Rockies for 15 years. An award-winning director, actor, drama critic and playwright, David has provided administrative and artistic leadership for a wide variety of theatrical institutions including two professional regional (LORT) theatre companies. An active member of SDC and AEA his work as a stage director (250+ productions) and actor has been seen at major regional theatres across the United States. As a DGA member, David is the creator or co-creator of eight original musical revues, six plays and numerous adaptations (www.summerwindproductions.com), which have enjoyed over 500 productions worldwide. David holds a BA from Glenville State College and an MFA in Acting/Directing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Todd Olson

Todd Olson

Creator

Todd is the Supervisor of the Historic Palace Theatre in Crossville, TN. Before that he was Artistic Director at American Stage Theatre in St. Petersburg, FL. Todd has directed over 150 plays, musicals, and operas, including My Way (which he co-created) at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, and I Left My Heart (also co-created) at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Original works include Lysistrata, Casa Blue, the last moments in the life of Frida Kahlo, and Joe Corso Re-Enters from the Wings, which won the 2012 Holland New Voices Playwright Award at the Great Plains Theatre Conference. His new musical Section 60, the New Ghosts in Arlington enjoyed a reading at the Florida New Musical Festival, and his most recent ALTHEA & ANGELA will receive a reading at WordPlayers in Knoxville in the Spring. Todd received his M.F.A. from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is a graduate from the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard. 

Vince di Mura

Vince di Mura

Arranger

Vince is a composer, arranger, jazz pianist and musical director; appearing on concert stages and theatres throughout North America, Canada, Europe and Latin America. He is currently the Resident Musical Director and Composer for the Lewis Center of the Arts at Princeton University, where he has served since 1987. He has conducted theatre seasons and fulfilled numerous compositional commissions at theatre across the U.S. His arrangements for Summerwind Productions include “My Way,” “Christmas My Way,” “Simply Simone” and “I Left My Heart.”  Mr. di Mura is also the author and curator of “A Conversation with the Blues:” A 14 part web instructional series on improvisation through the Blues, Produced by Soundfly Inc. Vince has 6 CDs on the market including his most recent release, “Meditations on the Sacred Heart.”  All of which are available at CDBaby.com and any number of internet outlets. 

Credits

PROGRAM CREDITS FOR TITLE PAGE

Created by David Grapes and Todd Olson

Original production directed by Todd Olson
Original piano/vocal arrangements by Vince di Mura

World premiere production presented at
American Stage – St. Petersburg, FL February 2005

Special Thanks

Dr. K. Dawn Grapes

I Left My Heart – Videos

I Left My Heart – Audio

Puttin on the Ritz and It Don't Mean a Thing

by American Stage Live

Opening of Act I – Piano Only

by Vince di Mura

Contact Us

Summerwind Productions, LLC – Box 430, Windsor, CO 80528          Email: Summerwindprod@hotmail.com