IRVING BERLIN SONGBOOK Album is Out Today
The new album--Deffaa's 15th--is part of an ongoing "Irving Berlin Project" which Deffaa has been developing at the 13th Street Repertory Theater in New York City. The album--with two-dozen members of New York's theatrical community singing 29 rare and never-before-recorded Berlin songs--is available from CDBaby, Amazon, iTunes, etc. ( http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/irvingberlinrarestitems ). In preparation for this project, ASCAP award-winning playwright-director Deffaa--perhaps the world's foremost authority on Berlin's music and the author of five different shows about him--examined every song in the Berlin archive, nearly 1500 in total.
The all-star cast includes performers with numerous Broadway and Off-Broadway credits, such as Giuseppe Bausilio ("Cats," "Aladdin." "Newsies"), Charlie Franklin ("Book of Mormon," "Bridges of Madison County"), Beth Bartley ("Fortune's Fool," "Orpheus Descending"), Eric Johnson ("Chess," "Ruthless"), Jed Peterson ("Hard Times," "Nevsky Prospect"), Michael Townsend Wright ("The Seven Little Foys," "Irving Berlin's America"), Emily Bordonaro ("The Irving Berlin Ragtime Revue," "The Seven Little Foys"), Rayna Hirt ("The Seven Little Foys," "The Irving Berlin Ragtime Revue"), Chloe Brooks ("One Night with Fanny Brice"), Jeffrey Sewell ("Irving Berlin & Co."), Amanda Andrews ("Mad About the Boy"), Jonah Barricklo ("The Irving Berlin Ragtime Revue"), Rachel Hundert ("One Night with Fanny Brice"), Ryan Lammer ("Yankee Doodle Boy," "I Love a Piano"), Katherine Paulsen ("Mad About the Boy").
In addition, the cast includes some promising newcomers Deffaa has found, who will be making their recording debuts, including Alec Deland, Magnus Tonning Riis, Nina Paganucci, Dylan Adams, Brianna Leigh Smail, Michael Caizzi, Ryan Muska.
Deffaa comments: "I'm proud of every singer working on this project. I think Giuseppe Bausilio--who at 19 already has four Broadway shows and one TV series to his credit--is as gifted as anyone his age. He and Emily Bordonaro--a protege of Tony Award-winner Betty Buckley and a first-rate talent--sing a never-before recorded Berlin duet I found that was dropped from a Broadway show before it opened, and then vanished. And they're wonderful together. I hope to record them more on future albums. Charlie Franklin--another of my favorites--from 'The Book of Mormon'--sings these vintage songs with such panache, like he was born to sing them.
"The newcomers have all impressed me, too, one place or another--Riis, singing at Feinstein's/54 Below; Caizzi, starring in shows at Hofstra University; Smail, earning a nomination for 'Best Actress' in the Strawberry Festival; Alec Deland, lighting up the stage at Stagedoor Manor. I have great belief in the new talent I'm presenting, no less than I have in the established artists. Jack Saleeby, who's just starting his professional career and has tremendous promise, teams up with seasoned veteran Michael Townsend Wright--whose credits include stage, television, and burlesque. Their work together will put a smile on anyone's face. And if you haven't yet heard of Magnus Tonning Riis, Ryan Muska, or Dylan Adams--such pure voices--in time you will."
Richard Danley, who has music-directed all of Deffaa's shows and albums for a decade, is music director. Music preparation is by Donald Brown and Richard Danley. Jessee D. Riehl was historical consultant. Matthew Nardozzi, Peter Charney, Tyler DuBoys, and Max Galassi are credited with production assistance. Frank Avelllino did graphic design. The album was recorded at Slau Halatyn's Be-Sharp Studios.
The album--like several shows Deffaa has written--is dedicated to legendary Broadway star Carol Channing. Deffaa explains: "She's as great a musical-comedy performer as anyone I've ever seen on stage. And for decades, she's been a valued friend and source of inspiration. I've learned more from her than from anyone else in the business. And whenever I step into a recording studio, a rehearsal hall, or a theater. words of wisdom she's shared with me are guiding me. Wonderful woman! I'm in her debt."
Deffaa, who owns one of the world's major collections of Berlin sheet music, has been working on his Berlin project for a decade. "Berlin wrote more hits, and made more money, than any of his competitors. And he wrote far more good songs than most people realize. One of my goals has been to help bring to light some of better 'unknown' Berlin songs. And have just the right singers put them over. I hope some of these 'unknown' songs may get rediscovered, and begin turning up in cabaret acts and concerts. Seven-time MAC Award-winner Natalie Douglas offers a show-stealing rendition of a never-before-recorded 'Bring Back My Loviin' Man.' She's brilliant."
Deffaa gratefully acknowledges, too, the crucial support provided by Edith O'Hara, the founder/Artistic Director of the 13th Street Repertory Theater in New York City. "There's no one else like her in the theater world. Now in her 100th year, Edith O'Hara has long given me carte blanche to work on any projects of my choice at her theater. I've gotten to do readings and workshops and productions of shows celebrating Berlin, and I've gotten to see the enthusiasm of Audience members for rare Berlin songs no one had heard in a century. This new album is part of a series of albums I'm doing, celebrating the legacy of Berlin. And O'Hara's generous encouragement of me and the project has been invaluable. The next album in the series, coming out in the Fall, will be dedicated to her."
Deffaa's singers will be sharing some of the unknown, never-before-recorded Berlin songs at Jim Caruso's "Broadway Cast Party" at Birdland, and other venues, in coming weeks. For more info on the album, which is available from CDBaby, Amazon, Footlight Records etc, please visit: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/irvingberlinrarestitems.