The script was the written after a series of recorded conversations with star Larry Kert about the public and private life of Al Jolson. The genesis is much like that of another Nicholas Dante-written show, A Chorus Line.
A backers' audition was held in July 1979 at Cami Rehearsal Hall on West 57th Street in front of 200 invited guests. Larry Kert and 10 other performers did an abbreviated version of the first act on a small stage with a baby grand and wooden stools.
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