Harmony, the musical by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman retells the story about the widely celebrated German vocal ensemble ‘The Comedian Harmonists’ of the 1920’s.
“They are the Beatles of Germany “ said Barry Manilow in a recent interview with KPCC. He mentions that nobody ever knew them had you asked someone on the street (in the US), but if you asked people in Germany, they are rock stars.
This was not always the case. While the German ensemble preformed between 1928 and 1934 the Comedian Harmonists could call international fame their own, and were in fact one of the most successful musical groups in Europe before World War II . They sold millions of records and performed with the great names of their days like Marlene Dietrich and others. After the Nazi regime made it impossible for them to continue performing since some members of the group were Jewish, the group fell apart after their return from their US concert tour. Their last concert in Germany was in March 1934.
Revival of a Forgotten Pop Group of the 20′s
Largely forgotten, a documentary in 1975 shed new light on the exceptional pre-Nazi Era German Pop Group and interviewed the surviving members. In 1997 the German movie ‘Comedian Harmonists’ (‘The Harmonists’ in USA) added to their fame, followed by a German musical play about them which showed at the Komödie in Berlin in 1997. The 6 actors of that particular play in Berlin actually formed a new group the ‘Berlin Comedian Harmonists’ which performs and recreates the Comedian Harmonists repertoire today.
“Harmony” in L.A., a Dream Come True for Barry Manilow
The rise and fall of the Comedian Harmonists is also the story of Manilow’s musical or to put it in Bruce Sussman’s words: “Why we didn’t know who they were” is the story. It’s a musical about “the Quest for Harmony”. Barry Manilow and his long-time collaborator Bruce Sussman have been working on their musical for more than 20 years making a dream come true when offered the opportunity to have their work be performed at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.
Harmony will run through April 13th, 2014 at the Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave. , Los Angeles. Tickets are available at centertheatregroup.org
Sources: Originally Published on CaliforniaGermans.com
Photo: Craig Schwartz – courtesy of the Ahmanson Theatre