Barry Manilow Musical Harmony Now Eyeing Broadway for Fall 1999

News   Barry Manilow Musical Harmony Now Eyeing Broadway for Fall 1999 Harmony, the new Barry Manilow musical, will not reach Broadway this season, said Beth Smith of PACE Theatricals (Sept. 15).

Harmony, the new Barry Manilow musical, will not reach Broadway this season, said Beth Smith of PACE Theatricals (Sept. 15).

Producers had hoped to bring the show to New York in spring 1999, but the lack of an appropriate theatre has made that impossible, pushing back the starting date to next fall. "It's all about real estate," Smith told Playbill On-Line.

Smith said Harmony will go directly to the Great White Way, eschewing any pre-Broadway engagements, as previously announced. No cast members have been announced, but original director David Warren will remain at the helm on Broadway.

Harmony ran at CA's La Jolla Playhouse last fall. Rebecca Luker and Danny Burstein starred in the CA production, wherein Manilow follows in the footsteps of Randy Newman, Paul Simon, Jimmy Buffett and other songwriters bringing their art to musical theatre. Bruce Sussman penned the book and lyrics for Harmony. Warren's last La Jolla project was Des McAnuff's Silent Edward in 1986. Ralph Burns (Sweet Charity, Funny Girl) provided the orchestrations.

Harmony is inspired by the true story of the Comedian Harmonists, six young men in 1920s Germany who rose from unemployed street musicians to become world-famous entertainers. While at the height of their fame, they played to sold-out shows in world-class concert halls, made a dozen films and sold millions of records. But the group's mixture of Jews and Gentiles inevitably led to clashes with the newly established Nazi party. Manilow, a Brooklyn native, wrote such pop hits as "Mandy" and "Copacabana." He wrote a musical score for Off-Broadway's The Drunkard when he was 18. In 1994 he wrote the score for the Warner Brothers animated feature, Thumbelina. Sussman scored the Off- Broadway musical Miami (book by Wendy Wasserstein) and Ted Tally play, Coming Attractions.

Michael Grief, artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse, wrote of the show, "I have been aware of and inspired by The Comedian Harmonists for many years. Indeed, my production of Machinal...was influenced by their sophisticated, urban style of music-making [in] diverse styles: jazz, classical and popular music of their day. Barry Manilow's music for Harmony captures that stylized, breakthrough sound."

Manilow called the writing of Harmony "the most challenging and creative journey of my career... I have tried to probe in equal depth most every musical style I've ever loved. The first time we visited La Jolla Playhouse, I knew we had found a perfect home for our project."

-- By Robert Simonson and David Lefkowitz

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