Band in Berlin, the Susan Feldman play which was nudged out of Off-Broadway's Union Square Theatre last September, may be reborn on Broadway. Producer Randall Wreghitt told Playbill On-Line he hoped to bring the musical to a Broadway theatre sometime in spring 1999.
Berlin was due to move into the Union Square Nov. 3 when that theatre's current resident, Visiting Mr. Green, unexpectedly extended its run until Jan. 3, 1999, leaving Berlin homeless.
Far from being discouraged, Wreghitt instead decided to aim higher. "I want to see Band in Berlin in a Broadway house," he said. Wreghitt said the production would retain its director and cast.
Berlin played the American Music Theatre Festival Mar. 11-22, 1998 at the WHYY Forum Theatre in Philadelphia. It featured the sextet Hudson Shad, and was co-directed by Feldman and Patricia Birch, and choreographed by Birch (best known for her work on Broadway in shows ranging from Grease to Pacific Overtures ).
The show is about The Comedian Harmonists, who rose to prominence in 1920s Germany, and were inspired by well-known American groups of the era like the Mills Brothers and the Texas Revellers. Half of the Harmonists' members were Jewish, and -- as Hitler rose to power -- the group was increasingly harassed by German censors. In 1935 they were forced to disband. The Jewish group members emigrated to the U.S., but were unable to succeed as performers without the other troupe members.
Band in Berlin utilizes multimedia elements (including film, projections and shadow puppetry) and features songs that became closely identified with the Harmonists -- "Stormy Weather," "Night and Day," "Tea for Two," "Whistle While You Work," Duke Ellington's "Creole Love Call" and even a vocal "arrangement" of the overture to The Barber of Seville.