(New York Jewish Week) — Barry Manilow’s “Harmony,” a musical about a real-life performing troupe of Jews and gentiles who combined close harmonies and stage antics in Germany during the 1920s and ’30s, is headed to Broadway.
The musical, for which Manilow wrote the songs and his longtime partner, Bruce Sussman, wrote the lyrics, has endured a 25-year journey to the Great White Way. “Harmony” was first staged in 1997, at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse, and in April 2022, it made its New York debut in a National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene production at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
“We’re doing what we’ve wanted to do forever, which is bring ‘Harmony’ to New York,” Manilow told the New York Jewish Week at the time.
The play centers around the German group the Comedian Harmonists, whose tight harmonies and humorous approach became an international sensation in the 1920s. But trouble started as the Nazis rose to power; in 1934, as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported at the time, the group was prohibited from giving concerts because two members of the group were Jewish.
In an interview with the New York Jewish Week last year, Brooklyn native Manilow alluded to his hopes for a Broadway run for the show. “Whether we make it uptown or it ends at the Yiddish theater, I will be very happy,” Manilow said. “It would be so wonderful if we could move this uptown.”
The musical comes during a moment of seemingly increased interest in Jewish plays on Broadway. It’s also a time in which antisemitic hate is on the rise nationwide. In February, a group of neo-Nazi agitators harassed theatergoers outside “Parade,” the musical about an infamous antisemitic incident starring Ben Platt.
“It is sadly more resonant,” Sussman told The New York Times of the musical, “with the rise of not only antisemitism but of autocrats around the world.”
The production is scheduled to start previews on Oct. 18 and to open on Nov. 13 at the Ethel Barrymore Theater. Warren Carlyle, the director and choreographer of the Folksbiene production of “Harmony” will return, though the cast has not yet been announced.
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