NEW YORK — "I Write the Songs," "Mandy," "Weekend in New England" and "Even Now" are just a few of the many hits from Brooklyn native Barry Manilow's nearly 60-year career in music.
If you ask the award-winning singer-songwriter about his career, he will tell you he was aiming for the bright lights of Broadway, not pop stardom. Same goes for his longtime collaborator, Bruce Sussman.
"I wanted to be part of the Broadway scene, and Bruce and I met, and we were just about to start, and Bruce says Mandy came in the middle of this, and screwed up everything," said Manilow, who laughed at the notion of the smash hit sidetracking his career.
What You Need To Know
- "Harmony" is a musical written by Barry Manilow and longtime collaborator Bruce Sussman
- It is in preview at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, presented by National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene
- It tells the largely untold story of the Comedian Harmonists, six performers from Germany who were world famous starting in the 1920s until World War II
- Manilow and Sussman scored a major hit together with Copacabana in 1978
Now, Manilow and Sussman, who was born in Queens and raised on Long Island, have come up with a new musical called "Harmony." It's in previews at Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Battery Park City, where the show will be presented by National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. It tells the story of the Comedian Harmonists, a group of performers that formed in the 1920s in Germany.
"They toured the world in the greatest concert halls, around the world, sold millions of records, made 13 movies, and some of them were Jews and some of them were Gentiles, and the consequences of that are basically our second act," Sussman said.
"I mean, they were huge, and no one remembers them because everything they did was destroyed," Manilow added.
The show features Broadway veterans Sierra Boggess and Chip Zien, along with the six performers playing the Comedian Harmonists.
"So young, we hate them," Manilow joked about the talented group cast as the Harmonists.
Manilow and Sussman, who scored a huge hit together with "Copacabana" in 1978, said they couldn't have found a more perfect place for the New York debut of the musical. It's been a long road for the show, which has been around for 25 years and went through a major rewrite when it was delayed during the pandemic.
They hope it will deliver emotion and give theatregoers something to think about.
"You know most Broadway shows, I don't think you walk out feeling anything. You say, 'Ooh, that was fun.' This is a show all about feelings," Manilow said.
"This is something of a cautionary tale too, given the headlines today," Sussman added.
Previews for "Harmony" are underway, and the production runs April 13 through May 8. For ticket information, visit the show's website.