SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //
“Harmony,” a new play with music by Barry Manilow and lyrics by Bruce Sussman, will open Sept. 6 at the Alliance Theater for a month-long run.
The musical tells the true story of The Comedian Harmonists, a harmony ensemble of six young men in 1930s Germany who took the world by storm until their religious composition – a mixture of Jews and gentiles – put them on a collision course with history.
The group sold millions of records, starred in a dozen films and packed the houses of the most prestigious concert halls around the globe until the world they knew forever changed. This adaptation of their tale will be directed by Tony Speciale, a Drama Desk Award nominee.
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“The story is about a group of young men who came together during a terrifying time in history to create something exquisite,” Speciale said. “Their heartbreaking and untold story was the impetus for Barry and Bruce to write ‘Harmony,’ and it’s what compelled me to work on this important project.
“Together, the authors have woven an intricate and epic piece of music theatre about memory, collaboration, hope, brotherhood, survival and redemption.”
When Manilow and Sussman began working on the musical, Roman “Rabbi” Cykowski was the only surviving member of The Comedian Harmonists and was able to speak about his life and experiences with the group before passing away in 1998. His memories, plus available historical information, provide the basis for the musical.
In “Harmony, the character of Rabbi – who also acts as narrator for the story – will be played by Wayne Alan Wilcox, who played Gordon in the film version of “Rent” and had a recurring role on the popular TV series “The Gilmore Girls.”
The ensemble for “Harmony” consists of eleven actors who play more than 30 roles, including historical figures like Marlene Dietrich, Albert Einstein and Richard Strauss – all of whom the Comedian Harmonists truly knew.
“We are both thrilled by the stunningly talented cast and design team who will be joining us for this production,” said Manilow and Sussman. “Given Tony Speciale’s fresh and blazingly theatrical vision for the piece, we now have every reason to believe this will be the ‘Harmony’ we’ve always hoped to see.”
The Alliance is confident that this ensemble and this musical are perfect for each other.
“A clear testament to the sheer power and bravura writing of this piece is the level of talent it continues to attract,” said Susan V. Booth, Jennings Hertz Artistic Director of the Alliance Theatre. “To welcome a cast, a director and a creative team of this caliber of artistry to The Alliance and to Atlanta gives me great delight – and seems exactly right.”
Manilow and Sussman are confident that the ensemble putting on their production will completely capture the spirit of their work.
Tickets for “Harmony” can be purchased now as part of a season ticket package and single tickets are also available. For additional information, visit www.alliancetheatre.org/harmony or call the box office at (404) 733-5000.