OK, I admit it — I’m a die-hard Barry Manilow fan, and to see his new show “Harmony: A New Musical,” which he wrote with his longtime collaborator Bruce Sussman, was a moment I cherished.
My lifetime admiration for the brilliant team has soared since I had the privilege of being at the first performance that took 25 years to come to fruition. We can all be grateful that the talented team never gave up their dream of producing the show.
Dear friends Carol and Jerry Levin had invited me to the premiere of the show that chronicles the “Comedic Harmonists.” It’s a tale of a sextet of Jewish and non-Jewish young men beginning on the streets of Berlin singing a cappella during the era of Nazi Germany, and it follows their rise to international fame and fall to Nazi henchmen in the 1930s.
The enchanting evening began with Barry and his team dining — probably with butterflies in their stomachs instead of the filet mignon — at a fundraising gala before the performance.
The fundraiser benefited the show’s producers and the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, which recently launched its 107th season and is the world’s oldest continuously operating Yiddish theater company — and longest consecutively producing theater in the United States.
You might remember their recent Drama Desk award production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” and they have another smash hit with “Harmony.”
Run, do not walk, to see the brilliant singers, actors and dancers in the carefully crafted show that tells the true tale of a group of talented young singers who became international stars singing harmony with a comic twist.
Their story hauntingly begins in Germany in the late 1920s and follows them through love, war and heartbreak.
The music was lovingly written by Barry Manilow with lyrics by Bruce Sussman. The show was both directed and creatively choreographed by the Tony Award-winning Warren Carlyle, who recently choreographed another of my favorites: the revival of “The Music Man,” starring Hugh Jackman.
The fantastic ensemble cast of actors, singers and dancers — led by Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman and Steven Telsey as the six Comedic Harmonists — is as talented as I’ve seen and makes the show one that you don’t want to miss!
To my amazement, I was enthralled by veteran actor Chip Zien, the talented narrator of the story, who brought me to tears during his last song.
The sold-out audience stopped the show multiple times with their applause and standing ovations.
The ensemble of cast members took me back in time during the Nazi takeover of Germany.
The story made me laugh, cry and cheer for the performers, who dazzled me with their outstanding voices, stellar acting and energetic choreography.
We owe Barry and Bruce a “thank you” for their commitment in staying with this story. “Harmony” is a truly phenomenal production and belongs on Broadway.
Right now, “Harmony” is on a limited run at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust inside the intimate Edmond J. Safra Hall, located in Battery Park. The setting is so symbolic, considering the setting of the play!
The show was scheduled to run through May 8, but has been extended! It is a performance not to be missed!