GAL APPROVED! Mineral Fusion’s Bold Color Palette. Josephine Baker Is In Harmony!By Delaina Dixon | April 15, 2022 | Gal Approved
Go See Harmony, A New Musical
(Real Life Harmonists)
Did you know that Josephine Baker performed with a six-part singing group from Germany back in the 1930s? They were called the Comedian Harmonists, and they are the focal point of Harmony, a new musical created by musician Barry Manilow and his longtime collaborator, writer Bruce Sussman. Three Jewish men and three gentiles made up the Comedian Harmonists, and they were one of the biggest boy bands of their time. Their shows included tuxes, tails and tempo delivered in six-part harmony. In 1933 the Comedian Harmonists performed at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall. They also performed with the legendary Josephine Baker as part of the Ziegfeld Follies — you can actually hear them in a recording here. Unfortunately, the Comedian Harmonists returned to Germany just as the Nazi regime came into power. They were persecuted, their work was destroyed and their Jewish members were forced to flee the country for their lives.
(Original NY Harmony Cast)
Harmony is told through the eyes of Rabbi, who was the last living member of the group. He shares his experiences of meeting his bandmates, their meteoric rise and the group’s untimely end. But let’s never forget their sound! Together, Manilow’s music and Sussman’s book and lyrics deliver so many uplifting, toe-tapping numbers. Ana Hoffman, who plays Josephine Baker, steals the show as she showcases the “Black goddess of France” in a giddy “We’re Goin’ Loco” number. And it’s hard not to fall in love with these six young actors who are portraying young men who just wanted to sing and were halted by evil forces. It’s an eye-opening lesson about how one-mindedness can destroy creativity and humanity, and that we must never let it happen again.
Harmony is playing a limited run through May 8 at the National Yiddish Theatre in Battery Park.
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photo credit: Julieta Cervantes for Harmony, Wikimedia, Amanne Media