Band in Berlin , the musical biography of a Nazi-era German singing group, will begin previews at Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre Feb. 19, 1999 for an opening Mar. 7, 1999.
No cast has yet been announced for Susan Feldman's play with music, to be directed and choreographed by Patricia Birch, whose musical staging credits range from Grease to Pacific Overtures. Robert V. Strauss, Jeff Ash and Randall Wreghitt will produce.
Berlin played the American Music Theatre Festival March 11-22, 1998, at the WHYY Forum Theatre in Philadelphia. It featured the sextet Hudson Shad, and was co-directed by Feldman and Birch, and choreographed by Birch.
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.
Earlier this fall, the musical was due to move into Union Square Theatre but was thwarted when Visiting Mr. Green suddenly opted to extend its run at that Off-Broadway house. That bit of misfortune turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Berlin, which graduated to a Broadway run. Additionally, in attaining the Hayes, Berlin beat out its main competitor for the theatre, the Off-Broadway hit Wit, sending that show to -- where else? -- the Union Square Theatre (beginning performances Dec. 18, 1998). 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.