×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Harmony’ Sings with Manilow’s New Broadway Cred

Upcoming regional co-production gets a boost from the performer's recent New York success.

The Barry Manilow musical “Harmony,” now gearing up for a regional nonprofit co-production that will play Atlanta and L.A. next season, has been an on-again, off-again Broadway contender since it bowed at the La Jolla Playhouse in 1997 — mostly off-again, since a planned 2004 New York berth failed to materialize.

But the B.O. success of Manilow’s recent Main Stem concert engagement looks poised to reawaken commercial curiosity about the title.

“Manilow on Broadway” wowed legiters earlier this year with sales figures that were so strong they prompted a two-week extension, adding up to a 27-perf engagement grossing a total of $4.2 million (and in its final week, $910,000 from just five shows). Clearly there’s commercial potential in the overlap between the musician’s fanbase and the older-skewing demo of Broadway ticketbuyers.

That fact alone is likely to send more than a few Gotham producers down to Atlanta’s Alliance Theater, where the new production of “Harmony” opens the theater’s 2013-14 season Sept. 6.

Whether it’ll kickstart a commercial trajectory for the title, however, remains another matter.

There’s a significant difference between generating strong sales in a limited, low-cost concert engagement and sustaining long-term box office for a new musical in which Manilow doesn’t even appear. He pens the music for “Harmony,” with book and lyrics by his longtime collaborator Bruce Sussman.

A score by a musician with an ardent following doesn’t guarantee boffo numbers for a musical. For proof, look no further than the so-so sales of 2009 tuner “9 to 5,” which boasted new songs by Dolly Parton. Current Broadway musical “Hands on a Hardbody,” with tunes by Phish frontman Trey Anastasio, also has yet to set the box office on fire.

The 2010 musical “American Idiot,” with music by Green Day, logged generally healthy sales but didn’t quite recoup after a bit more than a year on the Rialto. B.O. only really spiked during those limited weeks when Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong performed in the show.

With all that in mind, any producers checking out “Harmony” will be looking to see if the show — retooled in the years since it premiered, according to Alliance a.d. Susan V. Booth — is strong enough creatively to back up any anticipated enthusiasm from Manilow fans. Storyline centers on the Comedian Harmonists, a six-man singing group that rose to popularity in 1930s Germany before the ensemble’s mix of Jews and gentiles made it a target for the Nazi government.

For now, no commercial producers are attached to “Harmony,” co-produced by the Alliance and Center Theater Group in L.A., where the tuner is set to play a run that begins March 5 at the Ahmanson.

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

  • A Very Expensive Poison review

    London Theater Review: 'A Very Expensive Poison'

    Vladimir Putin owes his power to the stage. The president’s closest advisor trained as a theatre director before applying his art to politics, and ran Russia like a staged reality, spinning so many fictions that truth itself began to blur. By scrambling the story and sowing confusion, Putin could exert absolute control. The long-awaited latest [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    Broadway Review: 'Betrayal' With Tom Hiddleston

    and Zawe Ashton as a long-married couple and Charlie Cox as the secret lover. Director Jamie Lloyd’s impeccable direction — now on Broadway, after a hot-ticket London run — strips Pinter’s 1978 play to its bare bones: the excruciating examination of the slow death of a marriage.  It’s a daring approach, leaving the characters nowhere [...]

  • Jayne Houdyshell arrives at the 71st

    'The Music Man' Revival Adds Four Tony Winners to Broadway Cast

    Tony Award-winners Jayne Houdyshell, Jefferson Mays, Marie Mullen and Shuler Hensley will join stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster in the upcoming Broadway revival of “The Music Man.” In “The Music Man,” Jackman will play con-man Harold Hill, who arrives in a small, fictional Iowa town called River City and urges the townsfolk to start [...]

  • Glen Basner Filmnation

    FilmNation's Glen Basner on Diversifying Beyond Movies by Focusing on Storytelling

    Glen Basner lives to make deals.  Be it Toronto or Cannes, Sundance or AFM, you’ll find the FilmNation founder in the throes of negotiations over pricing and marketing plans, schmoozing and working every angle to nail the best pact. Director Armando Iannucci, who worked with FilmNation on the upcoming “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content