Like some of the greatest inventions of all times -- (Penicillin, Velcro, Post-it notes, Viagra) -- Rhapsody in Red was created by accident.
While researching historical Russia for another project, Peter Mills and Stephen Weiner made a startling discovery: in the 1930’s and ‘40’s, Russia actually used Broadway-style musicals as propaganda tools.
Imagine, if you will, gaggles of Russian peasants singing and dancing around huge armored tanks and wheat fields, celebrating the joys of Communism.
And if you can’t even begin to imagine that: not to worry. We did.
And we created a musical about it.
The year: 1956. Two hapless, wildly un-successful, down-on-their-luck American songwriters Howard Katz, composer, and Murray Finkel, lyricist, are kidnapped and taken to Russia where they are forced to ”fix” a Russian musical.
But of course, it’s not that simple.
Working under the gun -- literally! -- Murray and Howard soon realize the Russian show is dreadful. The director is a devout Dominatrix with the hots for Howard. The opening night is a week away. And the last writers on the project were killed. (“But if we didn’t do it,” one of the Russians explains ruefully, “the critics would have.”)
Hilarity ensues. Spies abound. Romances begin. Success finally beckons… but so does homesickness for the good ol’ USA, when it becomes clear that escape is impossible.
Or is it?
With Pete Mills’ brilliantly funny lyrics, Steve Weiner’s Broadway razzmatazz show tunes with a wink-nod to the minor key of Russian melodies, and Susan DiLallo’s hilarious Jonathan Larsen Award-winning book (a rare feat for a librettist)…the show came together in a few months.
About the Show
A sold-out 2006 Equity Showcase production by the Prospect Theatre Company garnered critical raves from everyone from The New York Times and everyone else.
The show had its regional premiere at The Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington a year later, and was presented at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival a year after that.
More development ensued when the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center invited Onanov Broadway to be part of their National Musical Theatre Conference.
The following fall, it was a selection of the National Alliance For Musical Theatre (NAMT).
And a return Off-Broadway engagement ensued in 2011 to similar critical huzzahs.
AND NOW, A NEW TITLE…RHAPSODY IN RED
…AND SOME NEW PRESENTAITONS
In an era where life imitates art, where collusion and conspiracies are the order of the day…where Russia is once again goading us and playing us and spies might be hiding around every high-level corner… the timing couldn’t be better.
We’re reintroducing our musical to the world with a new Reading and an all-star Broadway cast.
With our new title, our new director Bill Castellino (“Cagney,” “Desperate Measures”), and a brilliant Broadway cast, we want to take our Little Musical That Could all the way to Broadway.
Want to get in on the fun?
WHEN: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2019
WHERE: SHETLER STUDIOS, THE PENTHOUSE
TIMES: 11:00 PRESENTATION & 2 PM PRESENTATION
An enthusiastic farce...high-spirited and snark-free, a Hope-Crosby “Road” film with a nod to The Producers... the script is a hoot... [the] clever cast plays it straight-faced even in the silliest scenes, heightening the humor...old-fashioned in all the best ways.
Iron Curtain is jam packed with catchy showtunes, clever lyrics, socko gags and zesty staging, along with a little sex, a little romance, with an emphasis on the latter... a joyful night for those who appreciate musicals boasting fun songs, big laughs and a lot of heart…
It's a mystery to me why Iron Curtain, a highly polished revival of the hilarious 2006 hit about two song-and-dance men conscripted to Moscow during the Cold War, should be in the Baruch Performing Arts Center -- and not, say, Broadway...