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$555 pledged of $3,000 goal
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By Michael Greitzer
$555 pledged of $3,000 goal
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About

Who's This 'PUSHCART TONY' Guy?

Whenever anyone hears the story of Tony Cermak, it's nearly unbelievable.  Turn-of-the-Century America.  An immigrant of Eastern Europe from a poor coal-mining family. A teenage tow-cart pusher on Chicago's Southwest side. Then in the city whose history is infamous for capital corruption, political spoils and shameless nepotism, this young immigrant with nothing but a tireless heart and the shirt on his back somehow becomes the Mayor of Chicago!

You couldn't write it. They'd laugh at you.

But once I learned that the story was true, that this man did indeed exist, that he was the true architect of Chicago's invincible Democratic Party, a champion of Chicago's ethnic classes and a brawling statesman who fought for Chicago against City Hall bums and boodlers during the dangerous Prohibition Era, I thought: 'Hey!  Forget the laughs!  Somebody outta write a musical about all this!"

So we did.  Here's a DEMO SONG MEDLEY that highlights some of the tunes from the PUSHCART TONY score:  

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OK, Now Let's Back Up A Minute...How Did All Of This Start?

My research into Tony Cermak's life found a treasure chest of American characters, as well as events and drama perfect for the musical theatre. There was 'Big Bill', Len Small, Al Capone! World's Fair! World War! Prohibition, Gangsterism, Depression!

I would like to give thanks for the Reference section of the American Public Library system.
I would like to give thanks for the Reference section of the American Public Library system.

It became a mystery to me why very few people in Chicago knew about Mayor Cermak.  But the reason is a simple matter of history.  Despite his remarkable life, career and political legacy, Tony caught a bullet meant for Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, less than two years after his election as Mayor. But for me, after unearthing this chapter of Chicago and American history, 'Pushcart Tony' began to glow like a legend beneath eighty years of dust!  The story of Tony Cermak is compelling, fascinating, and at many turns, amazing!

THEN I Found Out There Was A Fan

“I use the same desk Mayor Cermak used at City Hall 80 years ago. And each day, I reflect on the legacy he left onto the city of Chicago. On the day Mayor Cermak was killed, he was on a mission for Chicago students. He was in Miami to ask for President Roosevelt’s support for our schools during the worst days of the Great Depression. So when I sit in my office, I share more than a desk with Mayor Cermak.”                                                    

 -Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel                                                       

Sharing A Desk: Chicago Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Tony Cermak
Sharing A Desk: Chicago Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Tony Cermak

 OK, It's Settled.  'PUSHCART TONY' Is Returning To Action!

Fast forward past six months of writing and more research.  After the book and lyrics were nearly complete, I needed to find a composer with the verve and experience in this theatrical Era.  By some fortune I found a young man named A.J. Braman through the auspicious pages of Craig's List. The match was perfect and we started working, purely through file sharing.  We were then soon able to meet in Chicago and develop a few songs.  Life was good for PUSHCART TONY.  Then, quite suddenly, the 'Money Boom' was lowered on us.  Due to financial problems, A.J. had to return to his job as a piano sideman on an International Princess cruise ship.  From that time, it has been through the miracle of the Internet that we have comprised our score to this point.  However, even though we could not be in the same city and rehearse, the songs of PUSHCART TONY still came alive. 

So What's Next?

To begin the development of PUSHCART TONY, A.J and I need to have the opportunity to come together (as writer and composer) and complete our score through rehearsal and arrangement. We will also need the talents of numerous artists and associates and the means to match the skill and spirit of this ensemble with our project. From there, a professional stage reading and recital will be performed for artistic directors in Chicago and the rest of the country.  

As anyone can imagine, in the world of developing American theatre, there is no substitute for resources.  We have put our own money into our project, but a healthy bump is needed to get the real fire going!  No one will work harder than A.J. and myself to make PUSHCART TONY come together.  We have the tools, the heart and a solid plan!

Timetable For Development

  • February 6 to March 21, Promotion of our KICKSTARTER Campaign.  Creation of Project Network Through All Resources Available.  Review of Potential Associate Resumes and Stage Performances.
  • March 22 to April 6, Interviews/Auditions of Cast And Director, also Editing and Completion/Rehearsal of Score. **This is when A.J. Braman (Composer) returns to America!  Production of Materials.
  • April 7 to April 29, Scene Selection, Arrangement and Play Rehearsal.  Event Advertising.
  • April 30 to May 4, Final Editing, Commitment to Venue, Final Rehearsal.     
  • May 8 or May 15, Staged Reading/Recital of PUSHCART TONY in Chicago, Illinois.   

It is important to recognize that although our schedule might be ideal for our purposes, there MAY be some variables along the way regarding artists and associates. For example, we find the perfect Tony Cermak and he's singing in a show in Minneapolis. We'll shuffle things bit, but not much.  We gotta get the show to town!

Tony's Family

As everybody knows, asking people for money isn't a lot of fun.  But as KICKSTARTER has become a revolutionary tool for artists outside the realm of traditional resources, we are using this tool to find supporters as well as advocates of PUSHCART TONY.  This needed help will be appreciated by an endearment into 'Tony's Family' (on our webpage and reading/recital event playbill). As cliche as this sounds, it is the most important thing we are aiming for here. We want you to join us!  If you decide to donate to our project, please send us a picture to post.

Wishful Thinking, Yes, But We've Always Wanted A Big Family
Wishful Thinking, Yes, But We've Always Wanted A Big Family

The rewards we offer for your support will not include an opening night in Rome.  But they will show our gratitude, appreciation and invitation to be part of the future of PUSHCART TONY.  Oh, yeah, and my Nonni's Sicilian Lasagna recipe.  Priceless.

Now!  FULL SONGS! (In The Order of Video Medley)

  • "Cicero" (In 1924, Al Capone moves his racket South of Chicago)
  • "Ladies of Temperance" (The moral war over Prohibition rages in America!)
  •  "Get Out The Vote!" (Young Tony Cermak is taught the political ropes!)
  • "Killing A King" (Giuseppe Zangara contemplates the murder of Franklin Roosevelt)
  • "That's Why We're Wet!" (Tony Cermak leads the charge against Prohibition!)
  •  "The Levee" (Enter Chicago's dark and vice-ridden First Ward)
  •  "Guys Like Us" (Al Capone attempts to cajole--and buy--Tony Cermak)
  •  "Hooverville" (The American Depression leaves millions homeless and destitute)

One LAST Thing...

For the COMPLETE story on Pushcart Tony and his Times, all song lyrics and synopsis of our musical play, please visit:

Risks and challenges

As to risks, we subscribe to what Theodore Roosevelt once said: "Do what you can with what you have--and do it now!" We are ready to move forward with our musical play. However, the challenges of this endeavor will no doubt be of some variety. We are looking forward to facing them. Our experience in working with other talented performers and principals of the art (directors of music and stage) will help us, and the resources we are able to gather through our KICKSTARTER funding will be invaluable.

A Note On Stretch Goals. To address the possibility of 'overfunding' seems a bit presumptuous at this time, but I think it is important to point out that all money that brings us closer to our goal will go directly to the quality and extent of PUSHCART TONY's development. Any amount that exceeds this goal would have our gratitude and would be applied in kind. Simply, it would create a greater opportunity for us to seek better TALENT, materials and work space, which in turn would no doubt improve this project and experience.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Welcome to Tony's Family! Send us a thumbnail pic and you're on the PUSHCART TONY website! You will also be thanked personally and appreciated much.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A personal thank-you note composed on the back page of one piece of PUSHCART TONY's handwritten script or lyric pages. Acknowledgement as part of 'Tony's Family' on our webpage as well as our event playbill. LASTLY, the recipe of my Nonni's Sicilian Lasagna! This is no joke!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    All of above and a 8"x10" photograph of PUSHCART TONY's cast and authors, personalized to you with all our thankful signatures. A digital download of video chronicling the event evening!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    All of above as well as an invitation to join the audience of our event and the cast and associates after the performance for our reception. Come, watch, hang out!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    All of above and the opportunity to join our cast onstage! Be part of our reading as member of one of the group ensembles! And don't forget to learn your singing lines!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    All of above and have a character in PUSHCART TONY named after you! Are you kidding me? Good guy, bad guy, your choice!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    All of above, a full PRODUCER credit on the event playbill AND Michael and A.J. will write you a song (about you, your life, love or any subject matter) in any style you choose! This will be no greeting card haiku! Sheet music, lyrics and recording sent directly to you!

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Funding period

- (45 days)