Julie Benko, who performs Thursday evenings as the alternate for Lea Michele's Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival of Funny Girl, will be part of the cast of the upcoming Broadway bow of Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman's Harmony, set to begin previews October 18 at the Barrymore prior to an official opening November 13.
Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle (The Music Man, Hello Dolly!) will direct and choreograph the musical, which played an acclaimed Off-Broadway engagement at National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene last year.
Benko joins the previously announced Chip Zien, who stars as Rabbi, along with the six Comedian Harmonists: Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman, and Steven Telsey. Additional casting will be announced.
Benko, the recipient of the 2023 Theatre World Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theatre, says, “It is rare to be offered the chance to be part of a Broadway show that resonates so deeply on both personal and political levels. I’m so proud to be a part of Harmony and tremendously grateful to Barry, Bruce, Warren, Ken, and the entire team for entrusting me with Ruth’s story. I can’t wait to get into the rehearsal room with the brilliant company this fall.”
The musical—featuring music by Manilow and lyrics and a book by Sussman—tells the true story of the Comedian Harmonists, an ensemble of six young men in 1920s Germany who took the world by storm with their blend of sophisticated close harmonies and uproarious stage antics, until their inclusion of Jewish singers put them on a collision course with history. The work is partially based on The Comedian Harmonist Archive, as curated by the late Dr. Peter Czada.
The musical has had a long road to Broadway. A world premiere staging played California's La Jolla Playhouse in 1997, then directed by David Warren. A pre-Broadway tryout was announced for Philadelphia's Forrest Theatre in 2003, only to be canceled due to financial woes. The musical reemerged in a 2013 co-production at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre and Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group, with Tony Speciale directing. The California run won the LA Drama Critics Circle Award. The Broadway bow is a transfer of the musical's 2022 Off-Broadway run at National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, which Carlyle also directed and choreographed. The Off-Broadway staging was critically acclaimed. It was nominated for Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Lucille Lortel Awards. It won the Best New Musical award from the Off-Broadway Alliance.
An Off-Broadway cast album was recorded but has not yet been released. Manilow recorded songs from the score for his 2004 album Scores: Songs From Copacabana and Harmony.
Harmony will be produced on Broadway by Ken Davenport, Sandi Moran, and Garry Kief, joined by Hunter Arnold, Marco Santarelli, Jonathan and Rae Corr, Adam Riemer, Scott Abrams, Neil Gooding Productions, Patty Baker, Tom and Michael D’Angora, Susan DuBow, Michelle Kaplan, Steve Kyriakis and Matt Donaldson, Harold Matzner, Matthew Rosenthal, Paul Gavriani, Burba Hayes, Harvey and Sandy Platt and Amuse, Inc., and Addiss Keena in association with Wilfried Rimensberger and STILETTO Entertainment.