Review Roundup: Alliance Theatre's HARMONY

Barry Manilow and his lyrical partner Bruce Sussman are taking a swing at musicals again with Harmony. The show is based on a documentary that follows a Jewish actor in Berin that recruited five singers, 2 Jewish and 3 non-Jewish, to form a musical group that offered a very different and unprecedented live performance. They combined complex 6 part harmonies, vocal imitation of instruments, and even physical comedy onstage. The Comedian Harmonists, is what they called themselves, became a musical sensation in the late 1920s but coincidentally, their rise to fame coincided with Hitler's rise to power along with his restrictions against the Jewish artists in Germany.

Now, lets see what the critics have to say:

Manning Harris, Atlanta InTown: "As striking and compelling as "Harmony" is (the opening night audience was rapt, especially when Mssrs. Manilow and Sussman appeared onstage briefly after the two hour, 40 minute show), undoubtedly it will undergo some tinkering, and this is usual in big-time show business. After all, shows used to open in New Haven, then Boston or Philadelphia, and finally New York. Exorbitant costs have precluded that. And "Harmony" could use a bit more dramatic oomph-especially in Act I. I have an idea: Since we're dealing in part with the coming Holocaust, I think an older narrator would lend some historic gravitas, shall we say, to the proceedings. And, shall we say, Billy Crystal. Star power is needed with the economics of Broadway. He wouldn't have to sing-just be there. Would you like to be a play doctor? If not, just go see this spectacular, perhaps historic, show".

Jim Farmer, Arts ATL:"This production is highly theatrical and from a technical point of view almost flawless, with a versatile set by Tobin Ost that slides easily from Carnegie Hall to a train to a half-dozen other locations. It all looks genuine, with minute details in place, and it's visual (major props to projection work by Darrel Maloney) and busy".

Wendell Brock, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "They were a boy band who sang like angels and wrestled with demons. They struggled with each other, with their women, with the law. They even had trouble coming up with the right name to describe their gossamer sound. Success proved elusive at first, then overwhelming - and tragic".

Everett Catts, "The only negatives of "Harmony" were Acts 1 and 2 each started about eight minutes late. Also, Act 1 was about 90 minutes but Act 2 was only half that length. Though I did not want to necessarily spend three hours at the theatre, the imbalance was strange. However, moving some scenes from Act 1 into Act 2 would have ruined the cliffhanger at the end of Act 1".

D. David Kinney, Fenuxe: Although there are no gay characters in the show there are several references to homosexuality. In fact, the song "Your Son Is Becoming A Singer!" so closely parallels the coming out process that I forgot midway through the song that the character Erich was coming out as a singer and not coming out as gay. Conclusion? GO SEE THIS SHOW! Broadway has left the great white way and is sitting pretty on Peachtree.

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