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IRVING BERLIN SONGBOOK Album to be Released on August 16th

Award-winning playwright/director Chip Deffaa's "Irving Berlin Songbook" album--part of an ongoing "Irving Berlin Project" which Deffaa has been developing at the 13th Street Theater in New York City--will be released August 16th. The album--with two-dozen members of New York's theatrical community singing 29 rare Berlin songs--includes many songs that have never before been recorded. Deffaa--one of the world's foremost authorities on Berlin's music and the author of five different shows about him--went through every song in the Berlin archive, some 1500 in all, in preparation for the project.

The all-star cast includes performers with assorted Broadway and Off-Broadway credits, such as Giuseppe Bausillio ("Cats," "Aladdin"), 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 Magnus Tonning Riis, Nina Paganucci, Dylan Adams, Brianna Leigh Smail, Alec Deland, Ryan Muska, Michael Caizzi, Olivia Perrone. Deffaa comments: "The newcomers have all impressed me. 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; Perrone, co-starring in a production of a show of mined out in New Jersey.... I have great belief in the new talent I'm presenting, no less than I have in the established artists. If people haven't yet heard much about, say, Magnus Tonning Riis or Jeff Sewell or Dylan Adams, in time I'm confident they 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 not just one of the greatest performers I've ever seen on stage--and I've seen her many times--she's long been a valued friend who's inspired me. I've learned more from her than from anyone in the business. And whenever I step into a rehearsal hall, a theater, or a recording studio, words of wisdom she's shared are guiding me. Wonderful woman!"

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. For example, Natalie Douglas--who's won the cabaret world's highest honor, the MAC Award, seven times--is the first person to ever record Berlin's 'Bring Back My Lovin' Man.''. And I could not think of a better person to have that honor, of introducing that particular song on disc. She gives it a sensuous, languid interpretation I really love. She's a terrific artist. But the song itself is a killer, and could be interpreted lots of different ways. I may offer it to someone else for a future album in the series, who'll give it a whole different treatment--maybe a big, broad music-hall kind of treatment. And that's all part of the fun. I hope some of these 'unknown' songs may get rediscovered, and begin turning up in cabaret acts and concerts."

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 quite 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."

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