Barry Manilow's Harmony and Maurice Hines' Tappin' Thru Life Will Be Part of 2013-14 Alliance Season in Atlanta
By Michael Gioia
March 14, 2013
Atlanta's Alliance Theatre, recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award, will produce the new works Harmony – A New Musical, written by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman, and Tappin' Thru Life, written by and starring Maurice Hines with direction by Jeff Calhoun, as part of its 45th season.
"The plays of the 2013-14 season live in times and places of change," said artistic director Susan V. Booth in a statement. "Stories told with song, with laughter, with gripping drama – and all of them with big doors and windows for you to walk through and discover what you believe."
Harmony – A New Musical by Manilow and his longtime collaborator, songwriter Bruce Sussman, will kick off the season Sept. 6. Harmony, according to Alliance, "tells the story of The Comedian Harmonists, a close harmony ensemble of six young men in 1930s Germany, who took the world by storm – from the stages of Europe to Carnegie Hall. The Comedian Harmonists' sophisticated music, paired with hilarious comedy, made them the brightest of stars, until the group's religious composition – a mixture of Jews and gentiles – put them on a collision course with history."
"We are both thrilled to finally return to our first love – writing a musical together. Especially this one," said Manilow and Sussman. "It has been an indescribable honor to spend all this time in the company of these six extraordinary men."
The Alliance will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition — which offers development and networking opportunities for four finalists as well as a full production given to the winning play — with three plays written by past competition winners and the world premiere of the 2014 competition winner.
Madhuri Shekar's In Love and Warcraft, which takes a look at relationships in our digital age through the eyes of an avid gamer, was named the 2014 winner. In addition to the full production the play will receive, Shekar and four other competition finalists will be given development and networking opportunities at the Lark Play Development Center in New York.
Here's a glance at the 2013-14 season:
Harmony – A New Musical
Music by Barry Manilow
Book and lyrics by Bruce Sussman
Directed by Tony Speciale
Sept. 6–Oct. 6, 2013
"They were the first sensational boy band: six talented young men who came together in 1920s Germany and took the world by storm with their signature blend of sophisticated close harmonies and uproarious stage antics. The Comedian Harmonists sold millions of records, starred in a dozen films and packed the houses of the most prestigious concert halls around the globe until the world they knew forever changed. Their amazing story inspired longtime collaborators, the legendary Barry Manilow and theatre veteran Bruce Sussman, to create a spectacular new musical with an original score that celebrates this extraordinary group of friends and ensures their quest for true harmony in the most discordant chapter of human history will never be forgotten. Harmony is a co-production with Center Theatre Group."
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Leah Gardiner
Oct. 16–Nov. 10, 2013
In the play "Lynn Nottage takes a funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in 1930s Hollywood. When the headstrong maid and budding actress Vera Stark lands a groundbreaking role in a new Southern epic, she turns Hollywood on its head and paves the way for future generations of black actresses. Seventy years later, film buffs are left to reflect on the life and legacy of this controversial star, whose eventual fame and fortune may have come at the price of perpetuating dangerous stereotypes. By the Way, Meet Vera Stark celebrates and examines the individuals who fuelled the remarkable American cultural changes of the twentieth century."
The Geller Girls (world premiere)
Written by Janece Shaffer
Directed by Susan V. Booth
Jan. 15–Feb. 9, 2014
"For young sisters Rosalee and Louisa Geller, Atlanta is full of opportunity and optimism for the future. Rosalee has finally convinced her father to help her open her own dress shop (maybe) and Louisa’s childhood sweetheart should be about to officially pop the question (they've practically been engaged since she was six years old). But this is Atlanta in 1895, on the eve of the Cotton States and International Exposition. And just like the Exposition was a huge catalyst for Piedmont Park, Atlanta, and the entire South, it brings change and uncertainty to the Geller girls. It also brings them the charming, handsome Charles Heyman from New York, and opens a door to the world beyond Atlanta that they may not be willing to close."
Tappin' Thru Life (musical)
Written by and Starring Maurice Hines
Directed by Jeff Calhoun
April 2–May 4, 2014
"Life-long performer and Tony nominee Maurice Hines (Uptown…It's Hot!; Sophisticated Ladies) narrates his glamorous career through tap as he inspires love and appreciation of this amazing art form. With song and dance, Hines pays tribute to his brother, Gregory Hines, and the singers who have inspired him, from Frank Sinatra to Lena Horne. To help bring the history of American tap dance to life, Hines will be joined by astounding dancers The Manzari Brothers – the clear embodiment of tap's future. Tappin' Thru Life will be accompanied by the Diva Orchestra, an all-female nine-piece big band. A charming storyteller, Hines will turn the expanse of the Alliance Stage into a place of intimate story-telling and then suddenly bust out dance moves that will make you realize you are in the presence of a song-and-dance legend. A once-in-a-lifetime stage experience you will remember for years. Tappin' Thru Life is a co-production with Arena Stage and Cleveland Play House."
Hertz Stage Series – Celebrating 10 Years of the Alliance/Kendeda national Graduate Playwriting Competition
Choir Boy (American premiere)
By Tarell Alvin McCraney, 2008 Alliance/Kendeda Competition Winner for In the Red and Brown Water
Sept. 20–Oct. 13, 2013
"A coming of age story about a different kind of boy. Pharus's confidence, charisma, clarity of purpose, and talent belie the struggle he endures at the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, an elite school for African-American young men. His differences raise the ire of his classmates who lash out with slurs tinged with more than a little jealousy. His reactions land him in hot water with an administration that thinks Pharus is a problem but won't acknowledge Pharus's problem. Gospel music at Drew is a tradition as old as the school itself, and that tradition is embodied in its vaunted choir. The choir gives Pharus some common ground, and it’s where he can stand out and be different without fear – because he's the best. In the years since the world premiere of In the Red and Brown Water captured Atlanta audiences, McCraney has been produced in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, the Bay Area, and London among many others. Choir Boy is a co-production with the Manhattan Theatre Club."
By Kenneth Lin, 2006 Alliance/Kendeda Competition Winner for …," said Said
Oct. 25–Nov. 17, 2013
"Discovered by the Alliance Theatre in the competition's second year, Kenneth Lin has become one of the most widely commissioned and produced Asian-American writers in America." In the work, "an Asian-American potential political star is being groomed for a big Republican race in New York City. But a former girlfriend might tarnish this young politico’s sterling reputation if a political fixer can’t find her price. A thriller of a play written with an astute and blisteringly contemporary eye for dialogue that contains surprises up to the final 'lights out,' this suspenseful play will keep audiences on the edge of their seats."
In Love and Warcraft (world premiere)
By Madhuri Shekar, 2014 Alliance/Kendeda Competition Winner
Jan. 31–Feb. 23, 2014
"Evie is a master of relationships. Other people's relationships. That's why she has a waiting list of classmate clients willing to pay her top dollar to fix their relationships. How? She uses strategy, finds people’s weaknesses, and then attacks with weaponinzed words using just the right amount of guilt, longing, and/or lust – whatever a relationship may need. All the skills and tactics she picked up on the way to becoming one of the best World of Warcraft players in the world. As for Evie's relationships? IRL (that is, In Real Life)? Well, all the action she's interested in is happening on the battlefields of WoW. When it comes to sex, Evie is a complete N00b and she's just fine with that. Until she meets Raul. He may just prove to be the most devious 'boss' she has ever faced."
The Tall Girls (world premiere)
By Meg Miroshnik, 2012 Alliance/Kendeda Competition Winner for The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls
Directed by Susan V. Booth
March 7–30, 2014
"Sometimes basketball is the only way out. Even for a girl. Even in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. When a mysterious young man gets off the train in Poor Prairie, everybody talks, especially the high school girls looking for a meal ticket – the marryin' kind. He's from Poor Prairie, but nobody knows where he's been and his story has some gaps. A few things are clear, though – he's teaching at the high school, he knows basketball, and most importantly, he has the only inflated basketball in town. As for that meal ticket? He may just have that after all, if he can get his Poor Prairie girls team good enough to sell a few tickets. And keep them out of the sights of the Committee on Play, Girls Division (it's the 1930s – when basketball was 'dangerous' for girls)."
Alliance Theatre for Youth and Family Series
The Grimm Lives of the Inbetweens (world premiere; musical)
Written by Scott Warren in collaboration with metro Atlanta middle school students
Directed by Rosemary Newcott
Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, 2013; additional performances available for school groups, Oct. 28–Nov. 1 and Nov. 4
"Explore the Grimm lives of middle schoolers! A fairy tale mash up of knights on bicycles, princesses with braces, bullies and jocks, and so much more. Building on the interactive history of the Middle School series, this year's installment collides fairy tales with the experiences of real tweenagers. Using digital storytelling, interactive theatre techniques, and quirky renditions of classic tales, this show will bring to life the contemporary middle school experience."
A Christmas Carol
Written by Charles Dickens
Adapted by David H. Bell
Directed by Rosemary Newcott
Nov. 29–Dec. 29, 2013
"Celebrate Atlanta's finest actors in the dazzling 24th Alliance Theatre staging of Charles Dickens's classic Christmas tale and Ebenezer Scrooge's eye-opening Christmas Eve journey. Scrooge is visited by four ghosts offering perspective: his old partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. A magical tradition for the whole family, and a great way to celebrate the season."
Shrek the Musical
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on the DreamWorks Animation motion picture and the book by William Steig
Directed by Rosemary Newcott
Feb. 22–March 9, 2014 (Saturdays and Sundays); additional performances available for school groups, Feb. 19–March 7 (Tuesdays through Friday)
"A delight for the whole family, this musical based on the beloved Dreamworks film character and William Steig's 1990s book will charm the ogre out of everyone. This wonderful musical ran for 12 months on Broadway and is now adapted to a family friendly one-act experience. Watch Shrek the ogre leave his home and give up his privacy to rescue the princess Fiona, herself under a curse that makes her nervous about her looks. In this fairy tale world, there is someone for everyone no matter what they look like. Under the guidance of theatrical magician Rosemary Newcott, this show will transport audiences to a rich visual experience with a hilarious take on fairy tales. Magic for the kids, romance for the romantics and snarky humor for all."