From the Copa to the Great White Way- Barry Manilow Now Writes a Musical

Photo: AFP

The singer/songwriter duo of Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman has made songs like “Copacabana” and “Mandy” memorable for nearly 50 years, and has now set its sights on Broadway. Tickets went on sale Thursday morning for Harmony, a musical based on the true story of a German group called The Comedian Harmonists, that is scored by Manilow, with lyrics by Sussman. They both appeared on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program to discuss what is billed as “the tale of the most successful entertainers you’ve never heard of.”

“[Bruce] saw a documentary on them and called me,” Manilow recalled for Berman and Riedel. “They made, like, 13 movies and sold loads of albums in their day, and we had never heard of them. And so, we started looking them up, and what we found was quite a story, and we went to work on making their story into a musical.”

Manilow expounded on their style for the uninitiated. “They were called [The Comedian Harmonists] because their music was kind of like today’s Manhattan Transfer, and they were funny, like the Marx Brothers… It was the top music of the 20’s and 30’s, and I was soaking in German pop music of the 20’s and 30’s before I was able to put a note down. It was amazing.”

The story of the Comedian Harmonists takes place in Germany between the World Wars, as Sussman explained. “They actually rose to fame at a time when Germany was on its knees… the country was in terrible shape, and they were skyrocketing to success… and in 1933, Hitler comes to power. Some of our group members are Jewish, some are not. What I described to you just now is our first act. Their collision course with history is the second act.”

Tickets to see Harmony are now on sale at the Barrymore Theatre on West 47th Street. Previews start on Wednesday, October 18th, and the curtain goes up for real on Monday, November 13th.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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