Zak Resnick, Teal Wicks and More Star in PIECE OF MY HEART, Opening Tonight Off-Broadway
Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story, a new musical based on the life and songs of legendary songwriter Bert Berns, produced by Merged Work Productions (lead producers) and Jack Thomas (Executive Producer), opens tonight, July 21, 2014, at the The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center.
The full cast of Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story includes Zak Resnick as Bert Berns, Drama Desk Award nominee Leslie Kritzer as Jessie, Theatre World Award-winner Linda Hart as Mom, Joseph Siravo as Wazzel, Tony Award nominee de'Adre Aziza as Candace, Derrick Baskin as Hoagy, and Teal Wicks as Ilene, Bryan Fenkart as Young Wazzel, with an ensemble that includes Carleigh Bettiol, Teresa Gattison, Shonica Gooden, Sydney James Harcourt, Jessica McRoberts, Ralph Meitzler, Harris Milgrim, Michael Millan, Heather Parcells, Gabrielle Ruiz, Amos Wolff, and Mark Zeisler.
Featuring a performing cast of sixteen and a band of eight, Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story has a book by Daniel Goldfarb, with direction and choreography by Denis Jones. The musical's creative team also includes Alexander Dodge (Scenic Design), David C. Woolard (Costume Design), Ben Stanton (Lighting Design), Carl Casella (Sound Design), Charles G. LaPointe (Hair and Wig Design), Garry Sherman (Music Supervision, Orchestrations & Arrangements), Lon Hoyt (Music Direction) and Telsey + Co. (Casting).
Bert Berns, whose life is also the subject of the just-released book Here Comes the Night, was born in New York in 1929 and died tragically of a heart attack at just 38 years of age. But in his short career, Berns left an indelible mark on popular music; he made fifty-one pop chart singles in seven years and became one of the most successful songwriters of the 1960s. Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story tells his remarkable story, once dubbed by Rolling Stone "one of the great untold stories of rock and roll," through his hit songs, which include "Twist and Shout," "Tell Him," "I Want Candy," "Hang On Sloopy," "Cry Baby," "Piece of My Heart," and many more.
Bert Berns was one of the great originals of the golden age of rhythm and blues. He first flourished as a staff producer at Atlantic Records, but Berns quickly developed into one of the leading record men of his day. He produced historic rhythm and blues records such as "Cry To Me" for Solomon Burke, "Under the Boardwalk" for The Drifters and "Twist and Shout" for the Isley Brothers. Berns' original compositions, songs such as "Twist and Shout," "Cry Baby," "Hang On Sloopy" and "Piece of My Heart" have become bedrock of modern music, recorded by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Otis Redding, among many others. As head of his own record label, Bang Records, he signed and supervised the first solo records by Neil Diamond and Van Morrison. Born and raised in the Bronx, Berns suffered rheumatic fever as a teenager, an early death sentence in those pre-open-heart surgery days. He died at age 38 on December 30, 1967, at the height of his career. But the music of Bert Berns never died. His songs have been consistently covered by the biggest names in the music business, featured in movie soundtracks, and have inspired many imitations and tributes. Bern's amazing life story is the subject of the recently published biography "Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues" by award-winning journalist and best-selling author Joel Selvin. A documentary film about Berns' life and music featuring Paul McCartney, Solomon Burke, Cissy Houston, and Ben E. King is also in the works.
The Pershing Square Signature Center, the permanent home of Signature Theatre, is a three-theatre facility on West 42nd Street designed by Frank Gehry Architects to host Signature's three distinct playwrights' residencies and foster a cultural community. The Center is a major contribution to New York City's cultural landscape and provides a venue for cultural organizations that supports and encourages collaboration among artists throughout the space. In addition to its three intimate theatres, the Center features a studio theatre, rehearsal studio, a bookstore, and Signature Café and Bar, open to public from noon-midnight Tuesdays - Sundays.
Photo Credit: Jenny Anderson