Emmy-winning El Paso
native creates musical
Article Launched: 12/01/2007
12:00:00 AM MST
Paso native Allan Jay Friedman, a
producer, writer and composer, and
book author Brittney Ryan, above,
collaborated to produce the new musical
"The Princess of Forever," based on
the book "The Legend of Holly Claus."
It will have its debut Sunday in El
Paso. (Photo courtesy of Steve Carr)
Jay Friedman's gift to his hometown of El
Paso will be a concert debut he hopes will
awaken dreams in children and adults.
The musical, "The Princess of Forever (An
Enchanting Evening With Holly Claus) and
Dream Tree Lighting," will be performed
Sunday at the Plaza Theatre.
The El Paso Community Foundation and El
Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center
are presenting the program, a collaboration
by Emmy Award winner Friedman, New York
Times best-selling author Brittney Ryan
and a crew of stellar entertainment veterans.
Actor Robert Wagner will be the host of
the program, which will culminate with a
tree lighting in front of the theater, "where
all the children will be invited to place
their dreams," said Friedman, who is based
in Los Angeles.
"It is a major gift to the city. El Paso
will be the first city in the world to enjoy
this amazing event," adding that the Holly
Claus project "is going to be huge."
In a telephone interview, Wagner said his
involvement with the project is something
different for him.
"I became fascinated by this whole world
that (Ryan) created, which is so positive,"
Wagner said. "She's a great talent, and
all this came out of her mind and concept
of life. In Holly Claus, she's created a
The legendary actor, who is filming a movie
in California, plans to make several appearances
with Ryan after the debut in El Paso.
"I'm looking forward to the magic," he
Ryan said Wagner's participation "is a
come true for me. He has qualities of great
Among other things, Ryan's book is the
impetus for a new Broadway musical, a likely
forthcoming movie and eight books.
A shorter version recently opened the holiday
season for the FAO Schwarz in New York City.
Ryan's best-selling novel, "The Legend
of Holly Claus," is the inspiration for
the musical "Princess of Forever." Harper-Collins
published the book, along with Ryan's other
top seller, "The Christmas Princess."
The author, who lives in California, has
performed in more than 30 musicals, and
was voted Most Outstanding Young Woman in
America by the National Press Club.ÊShe
has been a commentator for major television
networks, and is an accomplished producer,
composer and storyteller.
Ryan, who also sings and performs the Holly
Claus character, was in El Paso with Friedman
this week to promote the multifaceted project,
which is slated to become a classic with
a following as big or bigger than the one
Harry Potter developed.
Their scheduled appearances include a book
signing today at Barnes & Noble in West
El Paso will have "the first Holly Claus
Dream Tree in America ... .Next year, the
tree will be placed in (New York's) Central
Park, with the dreams of children from all
over the world," Ryan said.
"The Legend of Holly Claus" is a children's
tale about one boy who wrote to Santa Claus,
asking a question no one else ever had:
What did Santa want for Christmas?
Santa and his wife have a daughter, Holly,
who suffered a terrible curse from an evil
soul named Herrikhan, freezing Holly's heart
and locking the gates to Forever.
Once she is grown, and because of her pure
heart, Holly escapes. Accompanied by four
faithful and magical animal friends, she
embarks on a series of dangerous and life-changing
adventures designed to break the spell that
holds her people hostage.
"It's more than a Christmas story, and
it's not just for children but for the entire
family," Friedman said. "It's an epic novel
filled with mystery, magic and wonder.
"It also the first show ever to bring together
a piano rhapsody, ballet and symphony excerpts
in one show. I love my city, and I wanted
to help uplift the people of El Paso."
Friedman credited Mayor John Cook with
helping to get the program scheduled on
"We're elated to have so many top-notch
performers come here for this," said Eric
Pearson, vice president of the executive
office of the El Paso Community Foundation.
"We were looking for a way to bring children
Downtown to enjoy the magic of the holidays.
This opportunity presented itself at a good
time, and we are thrilled to be able to
offer it for very little money."
The New York Daily News said Friedman --
a producer, writer, composer and lyricist
-- is known for his innovation of new art
Director Peter Schneider also will be at
the program's debut in El Paso. His Broadway
producing credits include the Tony Award-winning
"The Lion King," and Elton John and Tim
Schneider, Walt Disney's president of animation
and studio chairman for 17 years, created
and distributed more than 50 movies, including
"Beauty and the Beast," "Little Mermaid,"
"Toy Story," "The Lion King," "Roger Rabbit"
and the "Princess Diaries."
Friedman's résumé isn't shabby either.
He produced the first documentary that
combined entertainment with the documentary
format, "The Young Man From Boston," about
former President Kennedy, which earned him
an Emmy Award as a producer, writer and
He also created the first full-length theatrical
musical for young people, "Winnie the Pooh."
The multitalented Friedman, considered
a brilliant student, followed various academic
paths before settling on his true passion.
He attended the University of Texas in
El Paso, where he majored in pre-med, history
and pre-law. He was a U.S. military officer,
attended the University of Texas law school
and the New York University Law School,
and received a master's degree in public
health from the University of California
at Los Angeles.
Then, he won a doctoral scholarship to
Harvard University to further pursue his
interest in "elevating the minds and hearts
of people everywhere by bringing first-class
entertainment to show how to achieve the
highest level of physical, mental and environmental
Friedman is the founder and president of
AJAY Productions and The Center for Top
Performance, whose board of advisers includes
Nobel Prize laureates and Olympic and professional
athletes and celebrities.
He is founder and chairman of Picture Book
Productions LLC, which presents the new
art form that he says combines Hollywood
Diana Washington Valdez may be reached
at email@example.com; 546-6140.
Make plansWhat: "The Princess of Forever (An Enchanting
Evening With Holly Claus) and Dream Tree
Lighting," a collaboration between Allan
Friedman and Brittney Ryan, and book signing.
When: Story time and book signing with
Ryan and Friedman will be at noon today
at Barnes & Noble, 705 Sunland Park,
When: Concert musical will be at 4 p.m.
Sunday, followed by Dream Tree lighting
Where: Plaza Theatre.
Cost: $7; VIP tickets cost $35 at the
theater and include signed copies of Ryan's
Information: Ticketmaster, 544-8444;
Plaza Theatre box office, 231-1190.