Danny and Sylvia, the so-called "musical love story" that charts the relationship between Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine, will have its New York City debut Sept. 5, 11 months after its 2001 Maryland world premiere by The American Century Theatre, of Virginia.
Danny and Sylvia: A Musical Love Story will be part of the Chip Deffaa Invitational, a new Manhattan performing arts festival sponsored by the New York Post entertainment writer. Tony Award-winner Thommie Walsh (A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine) supervises the staging, at the Chashama Theatre at 135 W. 42nd Street, Sept. 5-22. The New York showcase is produced by Virginia-based TACT. Walsh is credited with "artistic guidance" of the staging, in collaboration with Jackie Manger of TACT, who was the show's original choreographer.
Brian Childers will reprise his Helen Hayes Award-winning role as actor-comedian Danny Kaye. Perry Payne will play Sylvia Fine. The musical "follows the rise of Danny Kaye from an undisciplined improvisational comic to an international star under the guidance of Sylvia Fine, his mentor, lover, manager and wife," according to TACT.
"The success of Danny and Sylvia shows what can happen when talented, committed people are determined to make a wonderfully fresh project happen," said TACT artistic director Jack Marshall, who helmed in DC, in a statement. "It shows, even more significantly, how the love of audiences brings magic. The audience love for Danny and Sylvia is propelling the show to New York. It is particularly fitting that the production find a new home in New York since both Danny and Sylvia were both born and raised there."
The piece was penned by Bob McElwaine (book and lyrics), who was Danny Kaye's publicist for over a decade. McElwaine and Bob Bain, who wrote the music, created over two dozen new songs for the fast moving musical. Kaye's signature tunes, "Anatol of Paris," "Tchaikovsky" and "Minnie the Moocher," are also part of the show. The musical is the longest running show in the history of The American Century Theater, having played 66 performances in a number of venues in the DC area. It began in October 2001 after a March 2001 workshop.
Danny and Sylvia plays 13 performances in Manhattan. Tickets are $15. For information, call SmartTix at (212) 206-1515.
The Chip Deffaa Invitational is a 25-event festival produced by Deffaa in two venues (135 W. 42nd Street and 111 W. 42nd Street) Sept. 5-Oct. 15. "We're calling it an invitational because I invited artists I respect to create or bring us work they believe in," Deffaa said in a statement. "In the 16 years I've been writing for The Post, I've seen so much talent, I wanted to provide a showcase for it."
— By Kenneth Jones