HIGHLY RECOMMENDED REVIEWED BY: BOB SPHATT HERSHEY FELDER as IRVING BERLIN continues to break all…
Hershey Felder’s Unforgettable Journey As IRVING BERLIN
The new smash hit of the season is Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin made its Midwest premiere last evening at The Royal George Theatre.
Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin makes its Midwest Premiere in a strictly limited pre-NYC and continuing National Tour engagement. The production, designated as a Critic’s Choice by the Los Angeles Times, has been a popular and critical success, breaking box office records in each of its performance venues to date (Los Angeles, Orange County and Boston).
Mr. Berlin, a tiny, quiet, poor and shy immigrant from Russia, began his career at 11 as a singing waiter in Tin Pan Alley. He liked rhyming words and creating basic songs. Mr. Berlin was not trained in the piano even though his father was a cantor in Russia but in order to write his songs he discovered a piano with a special pedal to create basic syncopation. From here his career moved forward with the help of Music Secretaries
Jerome Kern famously said, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music—he is American music.” Felder brings to life the remarkable story of Irving Berlin, long thought of as “America’s composer.” From the depths of anti-Semitism in Czarist Russia to New York’s Lower East Side, and ultimately all of the country and the world, Irving Berlin’s story epitomizes capturing the American Dream. Featuring the composer’s most popular and enduring songs from “God Bless America,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Blue Skies,” to “White Christmas” and beyond, Felder’s signature creation of character and musical performance will make this evening with Irving Berlin an unforgettable journey.
This production begins with Mr. Israel Beilin, aged 8, 0n board the SS Rynland arriving at the port of New York for a life of freedom in a new land. When his cantor father died, Mr. Berlin left his family as there were already too many mouths to feed and found his way to Tin Pan Alley where he would become a singing waiter. His ideal composer had always been Stephen Foster and from that humble in all, Irving Berlin composed 232 top-ten hits and 25 number one songs, and over 1500 published songs. The evening ends with Mr. Berlin, now stooped with age and worries, finally realizes his causing and why he has composed so many beloved songs to Americans of all ages and when Mr. Felder gave us his rendition of Mr. Berlin’s “God Bless America” the stage was flooded with red, white and blue lights and this reviewer got chills as the audience sang along and knew all of the words; the America now forgotten.
Berlin’s songs include his very first: “Marie from Sunny Italy, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Always,” (composed for his second wife Ellin MacKay-Berlin), “Blue Skies,”(composed for his daughter), “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “Easter Parade,” “Heat Wave,” “How Deep is the Ocean,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “Steppin’ Out with My Baby,” “What’ll I Do,” and the scores of “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Holiday Inn, “Easter Parade,” and “White Christmas,” and many more. In all, Irving Berlin composed 232 top-ten hits and 25 number one songs, and over 1500 published songs.
Having just read Lawrence Bergreen’s biography on Mr. Berlin: As Thousands Cheer (taken from his 1933 revue of the same name) I was extremely anxious to find out how Hershey Felder would interpret this great man and his work all within 90-muinites; Hershey Felder is a totally unique performer who looks as though he is actually channeling whatever composer he is presenting. A superb musician and pianist Mr. Felder is one of the most accomplished actors in the world and Thousands have Cheered!
The artistic team for Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin is outstanding and led by Director Trevor Hay. Scenic Design is by Hershey Felder and Trevor Hay, Sound Design is by Erik Carstensen, Lighting Design is by Richard Norwood and Video Design is by Andrew Wilder. Scenic Decoration is by Meghan Maiya. Karen Racanelli serves as Executive Producer and the Production Stage Manager is Rebecca Peters. Hershey Felder and Samantha F. Voxakis serve as producers.
Performances of Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin began Friday October 30th at 8:00 p.m. and continue as follows: Saturday 3 and 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm, with performances continuing Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p..m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
STRICTLY LIMITED ENGAGEMENT THROUGH SUNDAY, DEC 6 ONLY. All tickets are $60. Tickets will be on sale at The Royal George Theatre and may be purchased by calling 312.988.9000. Box office hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE.