Harold Arlen's Life and Songs Explored in New Musical, Rainbow Journey, in Western NY

News   Harold Arlen's Life and Songs Explored in New Musical, Rainbow Journey, in Western NY
Western New York's only musical troupe, MusicalFare Theatre, will pay homage to Buffalo-born composer Harold Arlen with the world premiere musical, A Rainbow Journey: The Harold Arlen Story, April 18-May 20.

Randall Kramer directs the song-studded show, written by Heather Violanti with choreography by Carlos Jones and music direction by Mark Vona.

This is the final show of the 2006-07 season for the company that presents revivals and new works in Amherst, NY. MusicalFare Theatre is in residence at Daemen College, but is independently operated, and performs year-round in an intimate 130-seat theatre.

The show chronicles the life of Broadway and film composer Arlen, whose best-known song may be "Over the Rainbow" (with a lyric by Yip Harburg).

Using Arlen's own music, the show takes place on April 23, 1986, and flashes back to key moments in his life. According to MusicalFare, "It takes the audience on a breathless tour of the great composer's journey from Buffalo to New York to Hollywood" and boasts such classic Arlen songs as "Stormy Weather," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Blues in the Night" and "The Man That Got Away."

The Harold Arlen songs are used by permission of S.A. Music Co., Sam Arlen, founder. Kramer, artistic and executive director of MusicalFare Theatre, told Playbill.com, " Rainbow Journey is unique in that it is not another musical revue featuring the wonderful songs of Harold Arlen. It is the fascinating story of Arlen's life and his emotional highs and lows where the very songs he wrote are used to illuminate and convey key moments in his life. Everyone sings in character. There is no narration. Instead, [it's] told through a cinematic 'jump cut' style that features over 60 scenes and 20 songs."

A Rainbow Journey is performed by seven actors — one playing Harold Arlen and six playing multiple roles. John Fredo stars as Harold Arlen, with other roles played by Kathy Weese, Norman Sham, Timothy C. White, Joyce Carolyn, Todd Benzin and Doug Weyand.

The creative team includes set designer Chris Schenk, lighting and sound designer Chris Cavanagh and costume designer Olivia Ebsary.

Under Kramer's leadership, MusicalFare Theatre has become a regional center for world and area premiere musicals and a leading musical theatre company in the Northeast.

Author Heather Violanti holds an M.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from Yale School of Drama. Her first full-length play Aphra Where Have You Been? won Connecticut's Clauder Competition. Other plays include Flamingo Bingo and The Bald Mousetrap. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.

The performance schedule for A Rainbow Journey is Wednesdays at 7 PM, Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 4 PM and 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM.

For information visit www.musicalfare.com.

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