“Every Single Day, We’ll remember what we do today.” ~Harmony
Friends, friends, FRIENDS! Oh my goodness, FRIENDS! I knew given everything that is going on in this world, and given what the new musical Harmony is about, it was going to be so incredibly relevant and poignant in today’s modern times, I just didn’t realize how much so, and how much it would literally sear my soul. Harmony, in many ways is a stunning musical biopic, which is based on the Comedian Harmonists. A German close harmony all male ensemble group, that was world wide famous in the 1920’s to 1934 when they were forced to disband and three members who were Jewish, had to flee for fear of nazi persecution and death.
After which, the nazi’s destroyed all of their records and movies of which they had stared in 21 films and sold millions of records worldwide. While all six of the members attempted to keep performing despite being separated, and the tumultuous events that were occurring, none of them were able to accomplish the stardom, that they had created together. And the Comedian Harmonists were essentially erased from history due to the Nazi’s power and anti-semitism. To further add to the poignancy of this musical which was written and created by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman, it has been in the works for thirty plus years, and it FINALLY opened on Broadway this past Monday. It was well worth the wait.
The acting, the songs, the sets
The acting and singing is phenomenal. The chemistry of the six actors portraying the Comedian Harmonists is an incredible flawless blend of their voices and talent. They truly sound like they have been performing together for years. They literally should ALL be nominated for awards as a group, because while they are talented individually, together they create a magic that would do the original Comedian Harmonists proud.
The show is narrated by one of the Comedian Harmonists, known as the rabbi, but an older version played by Chip Zein who is truly magnificent and if he also does not win a Tony it will be a crime. He brings the story together with wit, beautiful singing, and incredible raw emotion that pierces the heart, and yet through out he has a twinkle in his eye and adds a levity that is needed when the topics are so heavy. Completing the cast and adding a feminine presence to a predominantly male cast are Sierra Boggess (Mary) who is married to the rabbi and converted to Judaism and Julie Benko (Ruth) who is Jewish and married to one of the non-Jewish members of the group. In fact it is Julie and Sierra who have two of the most memorable songs with What Do I See and Where You Go. It only adds to the humanity as well as the tragedy of the story.
The sets are relatively simple yet pack quite the punch with the LED screens that are also mirrored. There are several scenes that uses the backdrop in a jarring way to the audience that is both painful, but also true to the times which this show is portraying, It is simple yet quite effective with the story. There are also several moments when the actors are in the audience that further adds to the emotion and scenes.
A Must See
Harmony is a must see. But make sure you have your tissues ready. From the end of the first act through out the second, I had tears streaming down my face. Much like Hadestown, this musical which has been in the works for thirty years, is incredibly timely, and the audience feels that. From Albert Einstein (also played by Zein) who recites his famous quote “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” to the prejudice and fight to simply just exist despite ethnicity and religion, if you have a heart you will feel it. And you will be touched.
I don’t always like old school musicals, and this is, at the same time there isn’t anything like it one Broadway. It is comprised of an insanely talented cast, with engaging songs, gorgeous costumes, and a message that will make you think. Are we going to continue to repeat history? What are we doing? There are moments that make you laugh, and equally moment that make you gasp in horror. You will cry, BUT you will leave feeling inspired, and amazed, and grateful that you have learned about a group that had every right to exist and Coexisted with each other in all of their incredible diversity, with three Jewish players and three none and the interracial marriages they had because at the end of the day they were just people. People who loved, loved to perform, loved each other, and loved a country that ultimately attempted to destroy them, yet they persevered. This is a show that is not only a must see, but I am so grateful it is on Broadway right now. Let’s all live in…Harmony…
Have you seen Harmony? Have you ever heard of the Comedian Harmonists?