IRVING BERLIN'S AMERICA to Offer Talkbacks at 13th Street Rep, Now thru 7/10
ASCAP award-winning playwright/director Deffaa-the author of eight published books and 12 plays, and an authority on early show business--will join with the show's co-stars, Michael Townsend Wright (a veteran of such films as "The Rat Pack" and "Lansky," and television's "Uncle Floyd Show") and Giuseppe Bausilio (from Broadway's "Billy Elliot" and "Newsies") to field questions from audience members about Irving Berlin and the new show. Choreographer Tyler DuBoys, assistant director Peter Charney, music director Richard Danley, filmmaker Max Galassi, and surprise guests are expected to join the discussion in coming weeks.
"No one turned out more hits than Irving Berlin; he was the most successful single songwriter in history.He scored 19 Broadway shows, 18 Hollywood musicals. And he worked with countless great artists: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Marilyn Monroe, Ethel Merman, Ethel Waters, Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Fanny Brice," Deffaa notes. "But no one was more zealous about guarding his privacy. He let very few people get close to him. He was famously reclusive-a man of mystery, in many ways. And he repeatedly blocked every effort by producers to dramatize his life. And there's great drama in his story. He escaped the pogroms of Russia, never learned to read or write music, yet created more than 1500 songs."
Deffaa, who's spent seven years researching Berlin, promises that audience members will learn new things about Berlin and his cohorts in the talkbacks. Deffaa has written five different shows about Berlin (the others are "The Irving Berlin Story," "Irving Berlin & Co.," "The Irving Berlin Ragtime Revue," "Irving Berlin: In Person"); all five shows are available for licensing.
"Irving Berlin's America"-which enjoyed tryouts in the Catskills and in New Jersey before opening at the 13th Street Repertory Theater on June 15th-is the first of the five shows to receive a New York production. It is currently appearing in repertory at the 13th Street Theater with Israel Horovitz's "Line," which has been running at the theater for 40 years and is the longest-running play in New York City.
The theater will be bringing back Deffaa's "One Night with Fanny Brice"--currently taking a summer hiatus--in September, followed by a new musical of Deffaa's to be announced shortly.
For more information, visit www.13thStreetRep.org.
Pictured: Legendary songrwriter Irving Berlin. Photo courtesy of the 13th Street Repertory Company.