Album Review: Barry's Boys Bring Back Beautiful Blends To Broadway On HARMONY'S New Cast Album

A Soaring Score From Song Writers Sussman & Manilow (Yeah… That Manilow)

By: Sep. 10, 2023
Album Review: Barry's Boys Bring Back Beautiful Blends To Broadway On HARMONY'S New Cast Album

Album Review: Barry's Boys Bring Back Beautiful Blends To Broadway On HARMONY'S New Cast Album Heigh Ho, dear lovely rainbow tribe, welcome back to Bobby’s CD sandbox where we offer our broken-down breakdowns of new music releases. So, strap in and get ready, as Bobby goes on the record ABOUT the record.

This latest album entry in the BobbyFiles is one we were very excited to sit with, as it comes from the legendary keys of 70s hitmaker, Barry Manilow. NYC is all abuzz about his brand new original musical, HARMONY, for so many reasons. Number one, it will be the first full foray on the Great White Way by the Grammy and Emmy Award® winner and special Tony® Award recipient. Oh yes, Barry has had some of his well-known songs on The Broadway a few times but never an entirely original musical for which he has written the score Soup-to-Nuts. The creative arc that has been HARMONY’s Rise, fall, rise a Little, fall again, and finally rise up to the Barrymore stage (beginning this October 18) has encompassed a few regional mountings over 25+ years with performances including 1997 in San Diego, 2013 in Atlanta, 2014 in Los Angeles, and, finally, last year’s Off-Broadway run that did well enough for a light re-cast and transfer. This brings us to the second reason we are excited about HARMONY… With a respectful nod to those who worked the show downtown in Battery Park, one of the new additions to the cast is Broadway’s Understudy-No-More, Julie Benko. After wowing us all by rescuing a flailing revival of FUNNY GIRL, Ms. B is being given the chance to originate on The Street, and that is as exciting for us as we are sure it is for her. Taking on the role of Ruth, Benko joins original company members Danny Kornfield as Rabbi (Younger Version), Steve Telsey as Lesh, Sean Bell as Bobby, Eric Peters as Erich, Zal Owen as Harry, Blake Roman as Chopin, Sierra Boggess as Mary, and Chip Zien as Older Rabbi, all singing the music of Manilow with the words of Lyricist/Book-Writer Bruce Sussman.

Now to the cast Album of HARMONY… The first praiseworthy rainbow Bobby must bestow is this recording checks our most important Broadway Album Box. One comes away from the first listening (or 2) with a real sense of the show and its story. HARMONY is based on factual events and tells the story of the Comedian Harmonists, an ensemble of six talented young men in 1920s Germany who took the world by storm with their signature blend of sophisticated close harmonies and uproarious stage antics until their inclusion of Jewish singers put them on a collision course with the rise of the Nazi Party.

Album Review: Barry's Boys Bring Back Beautiful Blends To Broadway On HARMONY'S New Cast Album

At the opening of the record, we get an efficient 80-second OVERTURE with Oomp Pah Pah rhythms and a strong ragtime influence. The full sounds of brass, strings, percussion, and reeds arranged in a traditional overture style with quick looks into songs in the show that lead straight into the first number. HARMONY introduces the voices being played almost as instruments, with just a piano and some drums, in the style of the originals, who mostly sang acapella with a little piano assist now and then, but after the first refrain, the orchestra sneaks in more and more. This is perfect 6-part close harmony, with Chip Zien’s unforgettable voice, as the older Rabbi looking back on the glory that was his days with the Harmonists - “Suddenly a little harmony and the poverty’s not so bad,” they sing. As the song grows, though, it all sounds a bit “loudly” produced, with the orchestra in competition with the singers. But, still, it’s a fine intro to the cast as a choir. HOW CAN I SERVE YOU MADAM is another terrific 6-part harmony song, but funny… really funny, and beautiful, all at the same time. It’s a novelty song, and part of the group’s stage act, showing off the boys’ humor, as well as talent, as they employ vocaleses (sound combos instead of lyrics) and truly play their voices like instruments. Loads Of Fun! They put this ability to good use with HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY #20 where their awesome 6-part arrangement is done entirely with the voices making instrumental sounds, rather than singing words, all to the HR #20. The choices of which voice will make which sounds in the brilliant arrangement are truly remarkable. These are three wonderful-to-listen-to numbers where the 6 Voices of the Comedian Harmonists create enchantment. Each of the men of the Harmonists also gets moments on their own to sing with great passion and power. For the ladies, AND WHAT DO YOU SEE gives Sierra Boggess a gorgeous solo in a mournful minor key with diminished chords that create dramatic tension in her beautiful soprano, as she longs for freedom from what she sees - a world being torn apart. WHERE YOU GO is a beautiful love song filled with double meanings, as Benko’s Ruth sings words and emotions from the biblical Book Of Ruth. This haunting love song tells of her devotion to the one she loves - gorgeous and powerful all at the same time. Her ability to belt in legit vocal tones is magical, and her back and forth from powerful to lyrical is perfectly managed and acted. As Ruth is joined in the song by Boggess’s Mary, they mix, beautifully, their very different voices. Finally, there is THRENODY (means a lament), where the older Rabbi (Zien) re-imagines a moment he thought he had a chance to kill Hitler, but he didn’t. He hates remembering and this becomes a real Magnum Opus of a number for Zien. Bobby predicts, if this show grows legs, Chip will FINALLY get a Tony® nomination off this song alone, as it is SO FAB and challenging.

So there you have a few looky-loo's at this well-made cast recording, my lovely Bobby readers, a happy surprise that may make for a welcome addition to the Broadway season. HARMONY OBR is out now and you can start memorizing the score before you get your tickets (don’t we all do that?) and enjoy an all-new, all-original Broadway musical cast album that is so heavenly Bobby must give it a hearty…

 4 ½ Out Of 5 Rainbows 

You Can Find All The Streams For HARMONY OBC: HERE


You Can Pre-Order Your Compact Disc Version On Amazon: Click Here

You Can See And Hear Everything About HARMONY On The Webbysite: HERE


Responsible Parties & Cast Credits Can Be Found On IBDB: HERE

Curious?  Check Out Some Rare Sound Footage Of The Originals: HERE

Album Review: Barry's Boys Bring Back Beautiful Blends To Broadway On HARMONY'S New Cast Album

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