There is only so much information a writer can fit in a two-and-a-half-hour musical. “Harmony,” written by Bruce Sussman with music by Barry Manilow, is no exception.
After seeing a black-and-white photograph in the New York Times of “the six men in white tie and tails, hair Brilliantined, clearly 1920s/1930s,” Sussman needed to know more. The photograph corresponded with a review of a German documentary, “Die Comedian Harmonists,” which was playing at the Public Theater. Sussman raced to the first screening he could.
“I watched three-plus hours of a German documentary with subtitles — not my usual idea of a good time — and I came out of there gobsmacked,” Sussman told Broadway News. “I just couldn’t believe what I just saw. But more importantly, I couldn’t believe I didn’t know anything about [this group]. And that’s when I realized that why I didn’t know anything about it is the story.”
The Comedian Harmonists were a world-renowned, all-male vocal sextet that had been wiped from the history books. Sussman and Manilow began writing the musical about them in the 1990s. “Harmony” officially opened on Broadway on November 13, 2023, and closed on February 4, 2024. While the production did much to illuminate the talents and accomplishments of the group, it couldn’t chronicle it all.
“Harmony” and Broadway News have collaborated to create a companion podcast to the musical in order to uncover the full story of the Comedian Harmonists, beyond what audiences could witness onstage.
Listen to the trailer of “Who Were the Comedian Harmonists? The True Story Behind Broadway’s Harmony” here:
Episode 1 will drop on Feb. 21 with subsequent episodes set to be released weekly on Wednesdays. All episodes will be published on broadwaynews.com and wherever podcasts are available.