Barry Manilow’s musical ‘Harmony’ will finally premiere in New York in 2022


Barry Manilow fans never got to hear the end of his set at Central Park’s “We Love NYC” concert on Saturday, after the all-star show was stopped in the middle of a Manilow medley. But there will finally be an end to the saga of his musical “Harmony” in New York, as the show has been scheduled to run for seven weeks in the spring of 2022 – 25 years after it first premiered in California.

“Harmony” will be presented by the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene (NYTF) at the Edmond J. Safra Hall Theater of the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Previews start on March 23 next year, with regular performances beginning April 13 and continuing through May 8. Tony winner Warren Carlyle will direct.

Conceived by Manilow with book and lyric writer Bruce Sussman, “Harmony” has come a long way to get there — and not just because this particular NYTF production has been repeatedly delayed, first from its arc. planned from 2019 to 2020, followed by the pandemic requiring a second postponement.

The show premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse near San Diego, the incubator for many Broadway productions over the years, in 1997. A planned production in Philadelphia in 2003 that was to lead to Broadway, with Brian d’Arcy James in the head of the cast, was arrested during rehearsals when the producers ran out of millions to capitalize the show. Ten years later, “Harmony” took on new life in an Alliance Theater Company production in Atlanta, but a New York follow-up also eluded it.

While this version of “Harmony” isn’t slated for Broadway, it does land with some glamorous company. Before the pandemic, the NYTF production of “Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish” won a Drama Desk Award in 2019, as well as a Lucille Lortel Award and several other accolades. The company isn’t a new kid on the block – it’s now in its 107th season.

The producers are quick to note that, despite the name of the theater company and the title of that previous award-winning production, “Harmony” will be just fine in English.

The show is based on a true story, that of the Comedian Harmonists, a group of six young men in 1920s Germany who “took the world by storm” – as the show description puts it – with their music and comedy, down to the inclusion of Jews. the singers in the act put them in the path of a much bigger storm that was brewing.

The director of this production is also the choreographer. Carlyle won the Tony in 2014 for his choreography for “After Midnight,” a show that also earned him a Tony nomination for Best Director. He was again Tony nominated in 2019 for his choreography on the revival of “Kiss Me Kate”. He directed and choreographed “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway,” and his association with Jackman has continued, leading the actor-singer on a world tour in 2019 as well as choreographing the star in an upcoming revival of Broadway from “The Music Man”.

Says Zalmen Mlotek, NYTF Artistic Director, “The heart of NYTF’s mission will always be the promotion of the great literary, dramatic and musical traditions of Yiddish theater. We will venture beyond Yiddish when we have the opportunity to tell important Jewish stories, in other languages, especially when those stories would not otherwise be told. The storied career of the Comedian Harmonists, one of pre-war Europe’s most popular entertainers, shows how anti-Semitism can infect even the most “civilized” societies. The National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene is proud to bring its story to a wider audience.

Manilow hasn’t been entirely absent on Broadway over the past year trying to get “Harmony” there. His review “Manilow Broadway” played at the Lunt-Fontanne in the second half of 2019 and represented the fifth trip to Broadway for a show around his music.


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