IRVING BERLIN'S AMERICA, Starring Michael Townsend Wright and Giuseppe Bausilio, to Open 6/15 at 13th Street Rep
The most popular single songwriter in history, Irving Berlin wrote more hits-and made more money-than any of his competitors. But no one has told Berlin's life story. Until now! ASCAP award-winning writer Chip Deffaa-who wrote and directed such Off-Broadway successes as "George M. Cohan Tonight!" and "One Night with Fanny Brice"-has now dramatized the life of Irving Berlin. His musical play, "Irving Berlin's America"--co-starring stage/screen veteran Michael Townsend Wright and young Giuseppe Bausilio from Broadway's "Billy Elliot" and "Newsies"--opens June 15th at the 13th Street Repertory Theater. The premiere recording (Original Cast Records) has recently been released to enthusiastic reviews.
For four weeks, Bausilio may be the only actor in New York simultaneously featured in two shows. He'll perform eight shows a week in "Newsies"-and on his "off nights" from that Broadway show he'll appear in "Irving Berlin's America."
Writer/director Deffaa notes: "He's that real rarity-a genuine triple-threat singer/dancer/actor, and he's totally committed; for this tryout run, we're working around his availabilty."
Deffaa wrote the play with Wright in mind. "I've known Michael for 25 years-going back to when he was Joey Faye's sketch-partner and was a regular on television's 'Uncle Floyd Show.' And Giuseppe has been such a strong performer on Broadway, he's a perfect co-star for Wright. I really admire his energy-doing two shows at once."
"Irving Berlin's America" is part of a five-play cycle of musical plays about Berlin that Deffaa is developing. "His music is irresistible," Deffaa says. "We'll mix Berlin songs everyone knows, like 'I Love a Piano' and 'Alexander's Ragtime Band,' with raritiies and rediscoveries unheard in decades."
"Berlin was famously reclusive and fanatical about his privacy. He blocked all attempts to dramatize his life. And it's a life rich with drama--a poor immigrant kid, who never learned to read or wrote music, becomes the world's number-one songwriter. There's a story there," Deffaa says. "And the songs are timeless."
All performances will be at 8 p.m.: Sunday, June 15th, Thursday, June 19th; Sunday, June 22nd; Thursday, June 26th; Sunday, June 29th; Monday, June 30th; Sunday, July 6th; Thursday, July 10th, 2014. At the 13th Street Repertory Theater (Edith O'Hara, Founder; Sandra Nordgren, Producing Artistic Director), 50 W. 13th St., New York City, (212) 675-6677. For tickets, go to: www.13thStreetRep.org.