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Barry Manilow attends Alliance premiere of ‘Next to Normal’

Barry Manilow performing in Germany earlier this year. Wednesday night, he was just a spectator. Photo: Getty Images

Barry Manilow performing in Germany earlier this year. Wednesday night, he was just a spectator. Photo: Getty Images

It wasn’t only an Atlanta theater-loving crowd at Wednesday night’s opening of “Next to Normal” at the Alliance Theatre – Barry Manilow dropped by to check out the show as well.

The iconic singer-songwriter-musician was spotted an hour before the show seated on a high-backed stool inside Table 1280, the chic restaurant adjoining the Alliance, addressing a group of well-heeled folks that included theater board members and top donors.

Manilow, looking healthy and tanned in a dark suit, later headed into the theater and took a seat in the center orchestra section, about 10 rows from the stage. His longtime collaborator, Bruce Sussman, was also in attendance, according to Alliance Artistic Director Susan Booth, who mentioned the pair’s attendance during her pre-show remarks.

Manilow half-rose from his seat and briefly addressed the audience with some waves and smiles before getting back to the business of why he was there – to see the show.

Kathleen Covington, public relations manager at the Alliance, said Manilow, an avowed theater fan, had heard about some of the Alliance’s world premieres and had been talking about coming for a visit. Opening night of the powerful “Next to Normal,” a poignant, sometimes darkly comical exploration of mental illness, happened to fit his schedule.

On a purely speculative note, Manilow has long been trying to get his musical “Harmony,” written with Sussman, on Broadway and told me in a summer interview that there was “some big news coming” about the show that he couldn’t yet disclose.  Perhaps he’s exploring a new alliance? Or maybe he just wanted to see the tremendously moving “Normal.”

But the master performer will be on Broadway in January in a different form – as himself. Manilow earlier this week announced a 17-show stand at the St. James Theatre starting Jan. 18. “Manilow on Broadway” marks his first appearance on a Broadway stage since 1989.

“Next to Normal” runs through Nov. 11.

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By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene

11 comments Add your comment


October 25th, 2012
1:28 pm

What thu?

October 25th, 2012
1:37 pm

Hey chasbo… thanks for the news flash.


October 25th, 2012
1:58 pm

@chasbo – wow, and did he approach you and tell you this? No. Maybe you are and this is your way of denying it. -ANYWAY, moving on. Thank you for a very nice article!! Barry rocks!!


October 25th, 2012
3:07 pm

He’s an amazing performer – saw him in Vegas. Very charming, personable and talented. Perhaps that bothers some people?


October 25th, 2012
3:16 pm

Too bad he didn’t have the good sense to reschedule his Chastain gig. I still can’t believe he canceled that show 3 hours before the actual performance. Disgraceful.

Gwinnett Fred

October 25th, 2012
3:26 pm

Too bad nobody had the guts to ask him about the canceled Chastain concert. His promoters claimed it would be rescheduled, but NOTHING. It just adds to the speculation that he had it canceled at the last minute due to poor sales (gee, why wouldn’t a crown of 50+ year olds – I’m 52 – want to come outside to a concert in 95 degree weather?).


October 25th, 2012
4:04 pm

As an FYI, according to his web site, he will be performing at Gwinnett Center on April 27.

Melissa Ruggieri

October 25th, 2012
4:28 pm

That is correct. Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but he is slated to play Gwinnett at the end of April.

Gwinnett Fred

October 25th, 2012
5:08 pm

Me – Thanks for the update

Melissa – Thanks for the confirmation!

Pattie Taylor-Brown

October 26th, 2012
2:04 am

I’m just going to say something regarding the “gay” statement. No one except Mr Manilow knows the truth about his sexual preference. I just want to add, WHO CARES and WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?
He is the greatest performer of our generation. Nothing wrong with being LGBT all humans deserve equal rights.

Linda Kay Ritter

October 26th, 2012
5:04 pm

I have been a fanilow since the mid-seventies. I was a student @ PSU when I discovered Barry singing on a local radio station in State College,Pa. It was a lonely night over Thanksgiving break when I heard his wonderful voice about 2am. I had a full-time job while attending school and was unable to make it home for Thanksgiving break. I have been to several of his shows throughout the years and I am still a fanilow. Keep the Music Coming BARRY. YOU ARE THE GREATEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!