The Comedian Harmonists were an internationally famous, German ensemble boy band that performed between 1928 and 1934 as one of the most successful musical groups before World War II.
The Comedian Harmonists were founded in 1927 by Harry Frommermann, an unemployed German-Jewish actor. Frommermann was inspired by the American vocal group The Revelers, and he wanted to create a German group of the same format. He held auditions and signed on four additional singers and a pianist. The group’s name was a play on the word “comedian,” and it reflected their desire to combine humor with their music.
The Rise of The Comedian Harmonists
The Comedian Harmonists quickly became popular in Germany. Their unique sound and their ability to entertain audiences of all ages made them a sensation. They toured extensively, and they released a number of successful records.
The Fall of The Comedian Harmonists
When the National Socialists seized power, the group encountered initial resistance, including abusive criticism, anti-Semitic accusations, and finally open hostilities and the first bans on performing, including on radio and film. According to the new legislation, only artists who were members of the Reich Chamber of Culture were allowed to perform in Germany – but Jews were forbidden from doing so. The attempt to exclusively deny engagements outside of Germany throughout 1934 did not improve the situation.
The Musical about The Comedian Harmonists
Starting performances on Broadway on October 18th is the first and only musical about this singing group – Harmony: A New Musical.
The complete Broadway cast includes Chip Zien as Rabbi, Sierra Boggess as Mary, Julie Benko as Ruth, Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman, and Steven Telsey as the Comedian Harmonists, Allison Semmes as Josephine Baker, Andrew O’Shanick as Standartenfϋhrer, Zak Edwards, Dan Hoy, Bruce Landry, Rhonni Rose Mantilla, Daniel Z. Miller, Benjamin H. Moore, Matthew Mucha, Constantine Pappas, Kayleen Seidl, Kyla Stone, Bronwyn Tarboton, Kate Wesler, Stuart Zagnit, and Lee Zarrett.
To learn more about Harmony: A New Musical, click here.