Why I’m producing Harmony by Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow.
If this is the first you’re hearing about this musical coming to New York, then you gotta follow me here . . . because that’s where I announce a lot of the fun stuff.
But let me recap . . .
On Friday night, at about 9:15, Barry Manilow announced from the stage of his Broadway residency that Harmony, the musical he co-wrote with Bruce Sussman, would make its New York debut at the famed NYTF (the same theater that birthed the current and magnificent Fiddler revival) in February of 2020.
And I’m thrilled to be the Commercial Producer partnering with the NYTF to make this happen.
So what got me “singing” Harmony? I’ll tell you, as I always do when I sign on to a show . . .
First, if you saw Gettin’ The Band Back Together, then you know I’m a big Barry Manilow fan, and always have been. (Someday I’ll tell you the story of how Gettin’ The Band led me to Harmony, which is one for the books, and one of the greatest lessons of my life.)
Second, I am a fan of all-guy harmony groups. Having been a performer in the musical Forever Plaid 4x and having seen the success of my own Altar Boyz, as well as Jersey Boys (and the boy-band/harmony genre in general), I’ve always known that audiences have a thing for seeing groups of guys sing and dance in groups. (In fact, we now manage this killer group that knocks ’em dead all over the country.)
Third, the score to this sucker is outstanding. But it’s Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman . . . are you surprised? They write the songs. Literally. So when you come to Harmony, one of the things I will guarantee are some effin’ melodies and rich lyrics that will crawl into your ear and never come out (like that thing in Wrath of Khan, for you Trekkies out there).
Lastly, I signed on to this show because of the story. That’s the most important thing in musicals, even if the music gets all the attention. Without a roller coaster ride of a well-told story (as we talked about on Friday), you can forget me (and most audiences) ever getting involved.
Harmony is about a little known group called The Comedian Harmonists . . . one of the most successful musical groups in Europe in the years leading up to World War II. Why is so little known about them? Well, they were from Germany. And the group was half Jewish and half Gentile. And most every permanent “record” of their existence was destroyed. Purposefully.
It’s a musical that tells the story of the rise of a guy group from a street corner to big stages all over the world, performing their big ol’ comedic production numbers with a sound you’ve gotta hear to believe – only to be broken apart in one of the most horrific times in the world’s history.
It had me laughing, singing along, and yeah, shedding more than a few tears . . . just after reading it.
And honestly? It’s a story and a time and a place and a people that a guy with the last name of Davenport isn’t as familiar with as he should be. But I want to be. So once again, I’m producing something that I don’t know, on purpose.
And I’m thrilled to be partnering with the NYTF to bring this important and entertaining musical to downtown Manhattan . . . where you can see The Statue of Liberty from just outside the theater.
Barry, Bruce, and I hope to see you there.