Rarely Heard Irving Berlin Score About the Army Comes Back to “Attention!”

Feinstein’s/54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club, presents a 75th Anniversary concert of Irving Berlin’s This Is the Army on Veterans DayNovember 11, at 9:30 PM. Performed for the first time since World War II, the presentation weaves songs from the musical with a behind-the-curtain story of the soldiers involved. The evening will be directed and produced by Jason Ferguson and with a cast that features Ally BoninoElijah CaldwellAndy Christopher, Tommy McDowellJames Penco and Daniel QuadrinoDaniel M. Lincoln serves as musical director and orchestrator.

On July 4, 1942, Irving Berlin’s all-soldier musical opened on Broadway before touring the US, making an Oscar-winning Hollywood film, playing the London Palladium, and visiting the front lines of World War II. This Veterans Day, an all-star Broadway cast will remember how this troupe of Broadway soldiers became the first racially integrated US Army unit, had openly gay soldiers who risked military prison, and avoided brushes with death as they brought their vaudeville show to the war’s most dangerous combat zones. This Is the Army features songs such as “This Is the Army, Mr. Jones,” “Ladies of the Chorus,” “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” and “God Bless America.”

History has largely forgotten this troupe of Broadway performers recruited by the Army to raise money for the war effort, and then to bring joy to the front lines of a difficult war. Many were bringing their talents to the battlefields, but there was nothing else like the logistics of bringing a full-scale Broadway show to the front lines. There were lights, costumes, setups, takedowns, a cast of 150 that needed sleep somewhere and be fed, and there was the difficulty of following the dual command of Army brass and the civilian Mr. Berlin.

Presented by special arrangement with the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, with an original book by James McColl and Irving Berlin. The concert book is by Jason Ferguson, based on “The Songwriter Goes to War” by Alan Anderson.

The venue is at 254 West 54 Street in Manhattan. There is a $30-$40 cover charge and $25 food and beverage minimum. Tickets and information are available at www.54Below.com. Tickets on the day of performance after 4:00 are only available by calling (646) 476-3551.

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Jason Ferguson (Producer/ Director) is an award-winning writer and producer. His critically acclaimed production of Ragtime took the largest musical ever made and brought it to a room above a London pub. It received five Offie Award nominations (winning Best Ensemble), a Whatsonstage Award nomination for Best Musical Revival, a BroadwayWorld nomination, and was a Time Out “Best of 2011.” While living in London, Jason worked with West End producers Arden Entertainment to develop new plays and musicals, including Tunnel 228, an immersive production created by Punchdrunk and produced by Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey, set in the abandoned tunnels beneath Waterloo Station. He also brings innovation to his advertising work, like a Samsung campaign where videos were created in real-time using improv actors that scored more than a million views in less than an hour, or a music video that was made completely from GIFs. The Verge called his writing “subtle, enigmatic, and really tasteful.”  Jason was a 2012 and 2014 finalist in the Glimmer Train literary magazine awards. He sits on the board of off-Broadway theatre company Clubbed Thumb and is a Dramatists Guild member. Early in his career, he was P. Diddy’s personal assistant at Bad Boy Entertainment. Jason was born in Tampa, attended NYU, and lives in New York City. More info at www.jason-ferguson.com. 

Ally Bonino   A graduate of Pace University, Ally is so thrilled to be a part of this concert. Recently, she starred as Rose in 5th Floor Theater Co.’s production of Dogfight. Other past credits include Prospect Theater’s world premiere of Myths & Hymns as the Trickster, and Mary Flynn in APAC’s NYIT award-winning production of Merrily We Roll Along. “I would very much like to dedicate this performance to both of my grandfathers who proudly served in WWII, and especially to my Papa Jim who was never in short supply of an amazing story to tell.” allybonino.com

Elijah Caldwell is an accomplished AEA actor, singer and pianist, on voice faculty at Marymount Manhattan College.  He’s been seen around town in A Strange Loop, the Drama Desk- nominated Generations, at Soho Rep, Madame Infamy at NYMF, Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money at the Atlantic Theatre Company, just to name a few.  Elijah obtained a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from The University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his Masters of Music from New York University – Steinhardt. Elijah resides in NYC where he acts, sings, plays piano, music directs, vocal coaches! www.melijahcaldwell.com#ThisIsCaldwell

Andy Christopher  National Tour: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Regional: The Muny, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Fulton Theatre, Maine State Music Theatre, Casa Mañana, Ogunquit Playhouse, Flat Rock Playhouse The Barn Theatre, West Virginia Public Theatre, Disney Cruise Line, and others. Concert: Muny Magic at the Sheldon. An EMT for 5 years and bio-chemistry major turned musical theatre. www.andychristopher.net. Instagram @mrandychristopher. Ps100.2.

Tommy McDowell   Having just returned from a year and a half on the road, Tommy is so excited to be back home and performing in various projects around the city. National tours: Roundabout Theatre Company’s Cabaret (Max, Herman, u/s Cliff), American Idiot (1st National)(Swing); Regional: Hairspray(Link Larkin), Grey Gardens (Joe Kennedy, Jr.), Urinetown (Bobby Strong), The Who’s Tommy (Tommy)www.tommymcdowell.com

James Penco   Favorite NYC: The Artist and the Scientist (CAP21 Theatre Co.), Love in Hate Nation(Musical Theatre Factory), Save the Date (NYC Fringe), The Joe Iconis Christmas Extravaganza ’13 – ’16 (54 Below), director of the cabaret series Cabarets by J&J. Favorite regional: The Circus in Winter (Goodspeed), Nine Wives (Sharon Playhouse), Sondheim on Sondheim (Great Lakes Theatre). Proud member of Actors’ Equity and graduate of the Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre Program where he co-founded the annual Baldwin Wallace Beatles Festival now in its 9th year. jamespenca.com

Daniel Quadrino  Last credits include: Broadway: Wicked (ensemble, Boq understudy), Newsies (Albert, Davey/Crutchie understudy), Bye Bye Birdie (ensemble, Hugo understudy) TV: “Peter Pan Live!” (Lost Boy) 

Daniel M. Lincoln (Musical Director, Orchestrator) Broadway: Wicked, On Your Feet! Off Broadway:Avenue Q, tick tick BOOM! National Tours: Matilda, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Wizard of Oz.  International concert tours: The Midtown Men, Burlesque to Broadway.  Daniel has also worked for Telsey + Co Broadway Casting, and taught at NYU Tisch.  As composer/lyricist: Queen Bea: A Soapsical! (3 Rules Prod, NY – starring the cast of TV’s “One Life to Live”), Calixte (Festival South, MS), Wrong Could Be Right(Facade Prod, London UK), and the upcoming movie-musicals Plus One, and Bang! Boom! Pow!  Graduate of UCLA (BA: Music) and NYU (MFA: Musical Theatre Writing).  www.DanielMLincoln.com 

ABOUT IRVING BERLIN

With a life that spanned more than 100 years and a catalogue that boasts over 1,000 songs, he epitomized Jerome Kern’s famous maxim that “Irving Berlin has no place in American music — he is American music.” He wrote scores to thirteen Broadway musicals, contributed to seven revues, wrote songs for twelve classic Hollywood movie musicals and created many of the most well-known popular songs of the twentieth century. Born in Russia, he immigrated to the Lower East Side, where he started as a singing waiter and soon became a lyricist, composer and music publisher. An intuitive businessman, Irving Berlin was a cofounder of ASCAP, founder of his own music publishing company and builder of the Music Box Theatre to house his Music Box Revues. For his paean to his beloved country, “God Bless America,” he established a fund which receives all revenues from the song and distributes it to the Boy and Girl Scouts.

Feinstein’s/54 Below features up to three shows nightly with cover charges ranging from $5-$105. 54Below.com/Feinsteins