Playbill.com, NY –
Oct 29, 2004
Aznavour Songs Fill New Musical Happy Anniversary!, Getting NYC Reading
With Schaffel and Cuccioli
By Kenneth Jones
29 Oct 2004
Ed Dixon, the actor-writer-composer not afraid to juggle multiple
projects, has conceived a new four-person musical, Happy Anniversary!,
drawing on the music of Charles Aznavour.
The developing show by the author of the musical Fanny Hill will be
seen in an invitation-only reading in Manhattan Nov. 8 in a
presentation by Hell’s Kitchen Musicals, a new group. Happy
Anniversary! was previously seen in a presentation at The York Theatre
In the show, Marla Schaffel (Jane Eyre) and Robert Cuccioli (Jekyll &
Hyde) will play a New York couple celebrating their 20th wedding
anniversary. Amanda Watkins and Matthew Scott play their extramarital
interests – a maid and the delivery boy, respectively.
“Everything looks O.K. on the surface, but underneath it’s really not
O.K. – they love each other but can’t stand each other,” Dixon said of
his married pair. He is calling the show a book musical, not a revue of
The show’s title comes from one of Aznavour’s most famous songs.
Happy Anniversary! was sparked when Sybil Goday, the widow of Happy
Goday, the music publisher of Aznavour’s songs, invited Dixon to a
meeting and said she was looking for an original stage show that would
celebrate such Aznavour songs as “Sailor Boy,” “Yesterday, When I Was
Young,” “She,” “I’ll Be There” and “You and Me.”
“She wants to introduce a much larger group of people to his music,”
Goday had seen Dixon in another developing Aznavour driven show, Az, in
2003 and liked his style. She agreed to grant him the rights to the
Aznavour catalog if he could come up with an original story. The
English lyrics are by Don Black, Herbert Kretzmer and Dee Shipman.
The project – conception, book and arrangements by Dixon – has come
together in the past six months, Dixon told Playbill On-Line.
Drew Scott Harris directs the 5 PM Nov. 8 presentation. Larry Yurman is
The show covers the day of the characters’ anniversary leading to a
party at the Ritz Carlton in New York. “It’s a tiny, tiny musical,”
Dixon said, but it addresses a full range of emotions from “funny to
touching to sad.”
“I fell in love with the music and the topics – thwarted love, love not
working out,” Dixon explained of his earlier brush with Aznavour’s
But, he added, the show will have a large dose of hope in it. “It’s not
all strum und drang,” he promised.
Charles Aznavour, the French singer and songwriter, made a rare
Broadway appearance in 1998 at the Marquis Theatre, Oct. 20-Nov. 15. A
Aznavour was born in Paris in 1924, the son of an Armenian cook. A
singer since the late ’50s, he has written many songs, including
“Yesterday, When I Was Young.” He’s appeared in films since 1958,
including Truffaut’s “Shoot the Piano Player” and “The Tin Drum.” He
has also written the scores to several films.
His recent 80th birthday was celebrated around the world.
Ed Dixon will play Armand in the Off-Broadway musical, Under the
Bridge, based on the children’s book “The Family Under the Bridge,”
starting in December at The Zipper Theatre, where he appeared in Here
Lies Jenny May-October 2004.