Merle & Larry


Merle: We met over an evening of dinner and fine California wine, and we talked until the wee small hours of the morning. “My,” I thought, “he’s the most worldly wise man I have ever known.”

Larry: “MMMMMM”, I thought.

Talk turned to action and soon we were definitely a couple about town. Love, marriage, baby carriage — not necessarily in that order — came along. In a way, starting a wee bit later in life, we grew up together, raised a family, had divergent and then were lucky enough to intertwine our careers and business.

And then there were dreams — dreams of the theater and of music, song and travel. Sometimes, if you are with the right person, s/he can help to make your dreams come true and so we started to sing together — to perform, enjoy and share new and wonderful dimensions of life.

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DID THE LOVE COME THROUGH THE MUSIC?

L & M; “I guess love is music, performance, comedy”.

For those a bit more curious about us:

Merle was a first and second-generation child with ties to the Ukraine, Latvia and Germany.

Larry’s ancestors hearken back to Daniel Boone and even Winthrop Scott, the very first governor of Massachusetts. Larry’s definitely the Scottish, English, French and Dutch, a real “Heinz 57 Variety”. Larry’s great-great-great grandfather-was an acrobat in (Wild) Buffalo Bill Cody’s Traveling Circus and there are even ties to Daniel Boone.

Growing up in Berkeley, Larry sang in church choirs and the school chorus, coming forward to perform solos as his voice matured. Larry sang in high school with the locally famous Berkeley Harmoneers, and later chosen to sing with the renowned choral director Jester Harrison and the state-wide chorus at the University of the Pacific. Larry eventually entered the family business and his love of music sometimes focused on crooning a tune to a lovely girl. Time passed, and soon the complexities of his family, his wonderful children, and his business prevailed.

Merle grew up in the Midwest, and had the wonderful opportunity to study with Julie and Sulie Harrand, two sisters who cut their teeth on The Borscht Belt in the Catskills of New York. Merle was bitten by the theater bug, and performance has been a passion ever since. On completion of studies at The University of Illinois, Merle became a well-known radio personality, “Halavah”, at the Chicago station WSDM/FM, working for the famed record producer Leonard Chess (A wonderful book, Spinning Blues into Gold tells the story of the legendary Chess Brothers & Chess Records). Time passed and the call of California was heard, and loudly. The time was the Summer of Love. Merle came out West, and continued her university studies. While pursuing an advanced degree in Educational Psychology, her love of performance prevailed and she performed Commedia Del Arte at the Renaissance Pleasure Fairs and obtained notoriety as Elizabeth Barrett Browning during her annual performances at the great Dickens’s Faire. There was a brief flirtation in the movies, on “The Sicilian Cross” with Stacey Keach and Roger Moore. Merle continued performing in community theater and continued studies in Theater: in London with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and closer to home, the American Conservatory Theater and the Berkeley Repertory Theater.

Merle’s career as a psychologist, her family and the business eventually tipped the scales, and for many years she continued her love of theater as an appreciative audience member.

Then in 2001 Merle and Larry joined the Berkeley Broadway Singers and the rest is history and future.
http://www.berkeleybroadwaysingers.org

Along our road we met so many wonderful, talented, studied and caring individuals who helped us to be the artists we are today: Champagne and Roses to all of you!!!

Ellen Hoffman: friend and mentor and Music Director of the Berkeley Broadway Singers, as well as a fantastic composer and artist at the piano. Ellen arranged and performed six pieces on our CD. You can hear her original accompaniments/arrangements, adding sometimes haunting, sometimes joyous melodies as the songs inspire. http://www.ellenhoffmanmusic.com

Richard Nickol: a magnificent artist in his own right. Voice builder, friend and mentor who has passionately taught us both, encouraged us and guided us for many years as we have pursued our newly found performing and recording careers http://www.sfapa.org

Joshua Finkel: a friend, a mentor, a Broadway and television performer who has worked with us on dialogue and presentation for the CD and our live performances. The Creative Combustion Acting Studio, visit: http://www.ccactingstudio.com

John Florencio: a talented and innovative arranger and musician. You can hear his playing and arrangements on three numbers on our CD. John has played music around the world, from Malaysia to Paris and Moscow. As a child prodigy, at five years of age, he played for Imelda Marcos in the Philippines.

Peter Krawiec: recording and mixing engineer, as well as a musician, with a smooth cool ear for classy sounds. He provided technical excellence and was a wonderful person to work with. Peter’s first baby Jonah was on the way during our recording sessions, and we all shared in the joy of “Baby On The Way”. http://www.thpro.com Talking House Productions in San Francisco.

Reenie Raschke: she provided the photography and played our music while we laughed and danced through our photo shoot. http://www.reenieimages.com

Bond Bergland: recording and mixing engineer, Bond provided technical detail and a calm, easy, mellow recording environment at San Pablo Recorders in Berkeley.

Paul: at Montclair 1 Hour Photo: Who always gave us the extra time needed to edit our photos.

And: all the wonderful and talented musicians who accompanied us on our CD.

To all of you: Success and Thank You!!!

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