Manilow's Harmony Waiting for Right Broadway House

News   Manilow's Harmony Waiting for Right Broadway House
Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman's long-in-development musical, Harmony, is eyeing a Broadway life in the near future, possibly this season.

Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman's long-in-development musical, Harmony, is eyeing a Broadway life in the near future, possibly this season.

If a musical house of the right proportions opens, the show's New York debut could be as early as this season, said a spokesperson at William Morris, which is representing the property.

The Broadway mounting would not be preceded by a national tour or out-of-town tryout. David Warren will direct. Mark Schwartz and Brent Peek are producing.

The agency's plans echo the comments of Manilow, who, in an interview in the March 17, 2002, edition New York Times Magazine, said Harmony "should be in New York this time next year."

Harmony played the La Jolla Playhouse in the fall of 1997 with plans to come to Broadway. News since then has been scattered. The most recent word on Harmony had it resurfacing in Chicago in 2001. Again, the source was Manilow himself. While promoting Could It Be Magic?, a revue of his music which ran at Chicago's Mercury Theatre, he said during a television interview that he was trying to bring Harmony to the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Rebecca Luker and Danny Burstein starred in the California production. Bruce Sussman penned the book and lyrics for Harmony. Warren directed. Producers at SFX had once hoped to bring the show to Broadway in spring 1999, but the lack of an appropriate theatre made that impossible, and the starting date was pushed back to fall 1999. However, when fall came, all that emerged was a December backers' audition starring Christiane Noll. David Warren was still at the helm, although with an assist by La Jolla Playhouse's Des McAnuff. After that, the trail went dead.

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.

The fortunes of Harmony may have been slowed by the failure which met the 1999 Broadway bow of Band in Berlin, another musical retelling of the Comedian Harmonists' tale.

Manilow, a Brooklyn native, wrote such pop hits as "Mandy" and "Copacabana." He penned 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.

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