Interview: Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman talk about their new musical “Harmony”
Barry Manilow and Bruce Susman. Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman talked about their new musical “Harmony,” which will debut April 13.
The show began previews on Wednesday, March 23, and once officially opened, “Harmony” will only run for seven weeks (April 14 to May 8). It is produced by National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene. It is presented Off-Broadway at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park. “It’s the perfect place for this show,” Manilow said. “When they told us they were interested in ‘Harmony,’ we just couldn’t say no.”
“Every stone of this building was placed there to promote memory. Our piece is about remembering and this is the perfect home for this piece,” Sussman added.
“This place is inspiring for us. Every time we look out the window there’s something deep and you’re looking at history,” Manilow said.
It is directed and choreographed by Tony winner and Emmy nominated director Warren Carlyle. It is based on the book and lyrics by Bruce Sussman with music by Barry Manilow.
The silver lining during the pandemic for Manilow and Sussman was the ability to work on this musical. “We met every Tuesday and Friday on Zoom with our manager, Warren Carlyle. We shook things up and saw what we found,” Sussman said.
On the title of the current chapter of their lives, they both said in unison, “Harmony…Finally.”
Synopsis of “Harmony”
“Harmony: A New Musical” tells the true story of the Comedian Harmonists, six talented young men, Jewish and Gentile, who came together in 1920s Germany and took the world by storm with their signature blend of sophisticated harmonies and wild antics.
The Comedian Harmonists sold millions of records, starred in a dozen films, and filled the halls of the world’s most iconic concert halls until the world they knew changed forever.
Their incredible story has inspired living music industry legends Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman to create a new musical with an original score that celebrates this extraordinary group of friends and ensures that their quest for true harmony in the most discordant chapter in human history will never be forgotten. .
“Harmony” is based in part on The Comedian Harmonist Archive, curated by the late Dr. Peter Czada.
Manilow and Sussman strongly believe that their new music is very timely and relevant, especially in these trying times the world is going through. “It’s true,” Manilow said. “A lot of things can feel like we’re copying the title, but a lot of these things we wrote five or six years ago and yet it feels like we wrote them yesterday.”
“It sounds like crazy. I’m glad audiences find it satisfying although I wish it wasn’t so relevant because it means the world has gone to hell,” Sussman added.
The key to their working relationship
What’s particularly impressive about Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman is that they collaborated together for more than five decades.
On the secret of their working relationship, they declared: “Knowing how to collaborate. Knowing how to let a bad idea live and breathe because a good idea could be born from it. A lot of people don’t know how to collaborate. Our show is about these six different guys who found ‘harmony’ because they knew how to collaborate with each other and they knew how to live with each other. We both know how to work well together.
“We loved that idea and we loved that piece, and that has always supported us. We learned that this piece was the one we needed,” Sussman acknowledged.
“I learned that I have a lot of patience. We believe in this show so much that we can’t put it down. Frankly, that won’t let us go,” Manilow said with a soft laugh.
“‘Harmony’ reminded us of exactly how satisfying and fulfilling it can be when it’s good,” Sussman said. “Barry loves it and it’s my greatest pride. There’s nothing I’ve done in my career that I’m more proud of.”
For budding young artists, Manilow said, “You have to love the craft you’re getting into because it’s a long process at best. You better love it.
On their definition of success, Sussman and Manilow remarked, “Success, for us, artistically, is loving what we’ve done.”
For their fans, Manilow concluded of “Harmony,” “We want the fans to understand the story: these people were so innovative. They were the first of their time to be like the Backstreet Boys, the Four Freshmen and the Marx Brothers. They were the first band to do this stuff. We want people to know that the Comedian Harmonists were inventors. We’ll let people know they were there, and that’s what they got. did, and it was remarkable.