"Lillie Marlene" - a new musical by Michael Antin
This new musical, presented here in North Hollywood before going to Broadway, has enjoyed both critical and popular acclaim.
Here are some reviews:
AGORA INTERNATIONAL PRESS CORPS
Write Act Repertory
North Hollywood, California
World Premiere of
An Original Musical
Book and Music by Michael Antin
Michael Antin's love of music began in his early years. While still in school he already played five instruments and conducted the high school orchestra. During his college years at UCLA, he joined the choir conducted by Roger Wagner. After a long career in tax law, he returned to his first love: music. He took up piano lessons and joined a choir again. His piano teacher urged him to write lyrics and compose, and the result was an abundance of songs. His first musical followed and thus far he has written six, Lili Marlene being his most recent--a prolific body of work.
The title Lili Marlene is well chosen for this musical. "Lili Marlene," a famous European love song during World War II and before, became well known in the United States as sung by Marlene Dietrich. In Germany the song, recorded by another songstress, was heard on Radio Belgrade as the last song before signing off air each evening. This title will attract people who are lovers of popular music of that period.
The story takes place in Berlin from June 1932 to June 1933. Count Willi, a member of an aristocratic family with a government position, is courting Rosie, a Jewish cabaret singer. He is concerned about the political changes taking place in Germany and is quietly doing his best to help provide visas for his friends, artists and intellectuals, in order for them to escape the coming turmoil. His sister, who is a doctor, also asks him for visas for her Jewish patients. Their family is divided as to the danger of Nazi party politics until a tragedy opens the eyes of the doubtful ones.
The seventeen original songs tell the full story of political turmoil through the experiences of one family. Darcy Silveira, as Renate, the cabaret Master of Ceremonies, opens the show in top hat and tuxedo a la Marlene Dietrich -- sexy and teasing the audience. Germany being synonymous with beer, the lively first number ("Fill my Stein with Beer") sets the stage for the musical. Directed and choreographed by Mark Blowers, the whole ensemble sings and dances to live piano accompaniment. The title song, "Lili Marlene," is performed by cabaret singer Rosie (played by Amy Londyn, the striking female lead). Willi, the Count (Tavis L. Baker, perfect as the male lead) sings "The Star in the Sky," in which he expresses his love for Rosie. "How Can Germany Survive?" (sung by Mr. Baker) and "Mothers and Babies" (sung with passion by LeAnna Sharp) speak to the dilemma of trying to save all those who might be in danger. "Time to Stand Up" (performed with conviction by Judd Yort as an enlightened young man) is a cry for all to face the truth and speak out, and "A Hint of Danger" (sung by Aubrie Alexander) follows. "Let Me Send you Away" and "It is Time, My Love" tell us it is time for the family to save themselves; and, as family members obtain a stamp on their passports allowing them to depart, Rosie sings "Lili Marlene" in a final good-bye to Berlin.
Other talented actors in small roles are Darren Mangler, Anna Dawahare, Jessa Campbell and Justin Selig, who portray the remaining characters in the show. Dave Kamenir (Music Direction), Rocco Vitacco (Arrangements), and Jim Blanchette (Dramaturg) are members of the bi-coastal Write Act Repertory, which specializes in the development of original plays. Los Angeles is fortunate to be offered the World Premiere of this impressive work before it moves to its New York venue.
The young and beautiful actors/singers are the treasure of this musical. Their youthful enthusiasm fills it with life."
Bonnie Priever Curtain Up
There’s no doubt that composer extraordinaire Michael Antin has a vivid story to tell, amidst the dark backdrop of early World War II (1932), in “Lili Marlene,” set in Berlin, Germany. This original musical, directed and choreographed by Mark Blowers, and produced by John Lant and Tamra Pica, is a tale of incredible talent and will to survive, amidst intense fear of the unknown and uncertainty; incredible loss; and ultimately optimism and hope triumphing over despair.
The show features Amy Londyn as the perky, petite cabaret singer by the stage name of Lili Marlene; her given name, Rosie Penn, in a suspenseful story of life and death decisions . She is the heroine of her day , a queen Esther, as it were, destined to save her people and quite in love with Willi (Tavis L.Baker).
Together, in memorable duets, “Let Me Send You Away,” and “It is Time My Love,” we recognize how well suited they are for each other, with natural chemistry onstage and strong vocals. David Kamenir shines as music director, as evidenced by these dazzling numbers.
We get an intimate glimpse of the household and family life of siblings Janine (Aubrie Alexander) and Kurt (Judd Yort), yearning to stand up for ones beliefs and principles , despite the gendarme prowling about the town . His strong activism and sensibility shines through with his standout belting of “Time to Stand Up.” Things change when Kurt is tragically shot and murdered ; Lili Marlene realizes she must conceal her true identity to stay alive. Her ballad about wanting a new life, and her passion for Joie de vivre, “Two Stars in the Sky,” is the show’s bright spot .
The musical ends with anticipated hopes of Lili (with child); husband Willi and family fleeing Berlin for a new life, a new beginning , a new journey to hope happiness and wholeness . The original lyrics and songs reflect a random range of styles, while the large company of incredible talent have some touching moments indeed .
The words of the songs tell Lili Marlene’s story; the music has all the compassion of her young carefree spirit. Antin’s gift to bring this story to stage is testimony to all that was lost in the Holocaust; and the courage this family gains to reaffirm the art of living; and in turn, create a better world.