ONE ARTIST RETURNS TO NEW YORK PLAYING TWO GREAT MUSICAL ICONS
Hershey Felder (Broadway’s George Gershwin Alone) has garnered rave reviews and broken box office records in original theatrical events throughout the United States and Europe in which he has channeled some of the world’s most celebrated composers …George Gershwin, Franz Liszt, Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin. In the coming months, Felder returns to New York in two original works in which he takes on two of the 20th century’s greatest musical icons… Irving Berlin and Leonard Bernstein.
HERSHEY FELDER AS IRVING BERLIN …one night only, June 6 at The Town Hall
The story and music of America’s Composer come to life on stage when The Town Hall presents Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin, a new play with music written and performed by award-winning actor and musician Hershey Felder.Directed by Trevor Hay, Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin plays one night only, Monday, June 6 at 8PM at The Town Hall (123 West 43rd Street). The Town Hall engagement marks the New York premiere of Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin, which has previously played to rave reviews and broken box office records at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse, Chicago’s Royal George Theatre, the La Jolla Playhouse and Boston’s Majestic Theatre. Future engagements are planned throughout the United States. David C. Nichols of The Los Angeles Times wrote “that indefatigable purveyor of composers, Hershey Felder, applies his singular blend of musical biography, character study and piano virtuosity toward the iconic songwriter. The empathy, showmanship and craft on tap may just be the best match of historical figure and performing artist yet.”Chris Jones writing in The Chicago Tribune raved “Felder is the impresario whose relationship with audiences is long-standing, intimate and mutually adoring. Felder does his good guy proud.”
Jerome Kern famously said “Irving Berlin has no place in American music-he is American music.” George Gershwin called him “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.” Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin brings the man behind the iconic music to life in an evening reflecting his remarkable journey from child immigrant to America’s most beloved and prolific songwriter. From Tin Pan Alley to Carnegie Hall, from The Great White Way to The Silver Screen, and from the pop charts to the steps of the nation’s capital, Berlin’s music provided America with the soundtrack of a century. Berlin’s catalogue includes over 1,500 songs, 18 Broadway shows, 16 feature films, 232 top-10 hits, and 10 #1 hits. Berlin’s songs have been performed by a diverse list of artists including: Fred Astaire, Aretha Franklin, Ethel Merman, Willie Nelson, Paul McCartney Elvis Presley, Luciano Pavarotti, Ella Fitzgerald Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Barbra Streisand, Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe and Lady Gaga. Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin features the some of the composer’s most popular and enduring songs including “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Always,” “Blue Skies,” “God Bless America,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” and “White Christmas.”
“I am thrilled to return to Town Hall,” says Felder – “a stage replete with history – to perform the role of Irving Berlin on the same stage where I last brought Maestro Leonard Bernstein to life. To be able to create the character of Irving Berlin – America’s most beloved composer, in his home town – around the corner from his beloved Music Box theatre, in a musical story that reminds us all of this incredible country, and the remarkable people who built it, is truly an honor.”
Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin features a scenic design by Felder, lighting design by Richard Norwood, projection design by Christopher Ash and Lawrence Siefert, and sound design/production management by Erik Carstensen. The show is produced by Eva Price, Samantha F. Voxakis and Karen Racanelli.
Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in MAESTRO …August 31 – October 16 at 59E59 Theaters
Hershey Felder channels the great composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, a new play with music written and performed by award-winning actor and musician Hershey Felder, and directed by Joel Zwick at 59E59 Theaters (Elysabeth Kleinhans, Artistic Director; Peter Tear, Executive Producer; Brian Beirne, Managing Director). Part of the 5A Season at 59E59 Theaters, Maestro plays August 31 – October 16. Opening night is Sunday, September 11 at 3PM.
Combining first person narrative, Bernstein’s original music as well as music that inspired him, the story of Maestro spans the entire 20th Century. Leonard Bernstein, arguably America’s greatest musician, broke through every artistic ceiling possible to become the world’s musical ambassador. Conductor, composer, pianist, author, teacher, librettist, television star…for Leonard Bernstein, boundaries simply did not exist.
Maestro has previously played Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, Chicago’s Royal George Theatre, Cleveland Play House and a one night only engagement at New York’s Town Hall. The Boston Globe praised Felder’s “finely wrought portrait…Felder captures Bernstein’s restless energy, his combination of self-confidence and vulnerability, and his flair for drama.” The Chicago Sun-Times raved “you will walk out of the theater realizing you’ve barely breathed for the duration of this astonishing musical and theatrical transmigration of souls.” The San Diego Tribune wrote that Felder “…hits all the right notes. Hershey Felder’s Maestro is a pleasure to watch, involving and rich…He is a masterful pianist with a showman’s sense of drama and dynamics.”
“In 2009, I was honored to receive the blessing of the Bernstein family to create the role of the Maestro on the stage,” says Hershey Felder. “Since its premiere in Los Angeles, Maestro has played to audiences throughout the country who grew up with their “Lenny” – the man who brought audiences into the magical world of great music. What resonates throughout all the cities is his one-of-a-kind greatness – both as an artist and a personality – and the incredible impact that had not only an entire nation but on the entire world. The art and business of music exists as we know it today because of Maestro Bernstein.”
LISTINGS INFORMATION FOR HERSHEY FELDER AS IRVING BERLIN:Hershey Felder as Irving Berlinplays one night only, Monday, June 6 at 8PM at The Town Hall (123 West 43rdStreet.) Tickets are on sale at The Town Hall Box Office, 123 West 43rd Street, (noon-6pm, Mon-Fri) and Ticketmaster.com, (800) 982-2787. Tickets range from $55-$65.
LISTINGS INFORMATION FOR MAESTRO: Maestro plays Aug. 31 – Oct. 16 at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street.) Opening night is Sunday, Sept. 11at 3PM. Performances Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7PM, Friday and Saturday at 8PM, with matinees Saturday at 2PM and Sunday at 3PM. There are two additional Thursday matinees on Sept. 29 and Oct. 13 at 2PM. There will be no performances Sept. 24 at 2PM or 8PM; Oct. 2 at 7PM, or Oct. 11 at 7PM. Tickets are $25 – $70 ($25 – $49 for 59E59 members)and may be purchased by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200, online at www.TicketCentral.com, or in person at the 59E59 Theaters Box Office. Groups of 10+ should contact Ginger Dzerk, Director of Ticketing Services at 646-892-7986 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Rates for small groups (10-19) are $60/ticket. Groups 20+ are $50/ticket, and groups of currently-enrolled students 10+ are $20/ticket. Some restrictions may apply.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
HERSHEY FELDER (Irving Berlin/Leonard Bernstein/Playwright/Scenic Design). Writing in American Theatre, Hedy Weiss said, “Hershey Felder is in a category all his own.” Over the past 20 years he has played over 4,500 performances of his self-created solo productions at the some of the world’s most prestigious theatres and has broken box office records consistently. His shows include: George Gershwin Alone (Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre, West End’s Duchess Theatre); Monsieur Chopin; Beethoven; Maestro (Leonard Bernstein); Franz Liszt in Musik and Lincoln: An American Story. In addition, he performs concerts of “The Great American Song Book Singalong” at every theatre where his shows are presented. Future productions include Tchaikovsky (January 2017 premiere at the San Diego Rep) and the new musical, Chosen By God for which he is writing music, book and lyrics. His compositions and recordings include Aliyah, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Fairytale, a musical; Les Anges de Paris, Suite for Violin and Piano; Song Settings; Saltimbanques for Piano and Orchestra; Etudes Thematiques for Piano; and An American Story for Actor and Orchestra. Hershey is the adaptor, director and designer for the very successful play with music, The Pianist of Willesden Lane and for the new musical Louis and Keely: Live at the Sahara, directed by Taylor Hackford, he is the producer and designer. Hershey has operated a full service production company since 2001. He has been a scholar-in-residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music and is married to Kim Campbell, the first female Prime Minister of Canada.
TREVOR HAY (Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin, Director) directed the world premieres of An American Story For Actor and Orchestra, Abe Lincoln’s Piano and Hershey Felder As Franz Liszt In Musik. He is Associate Director for Mona Golabek’s The Pianist of Willesden Lane. Former member of the historic Old Globe Theatre in San Diego where, at the age of nine, his first position was selling Old Globe memorabilia. Over the next 32 years, Mr. Hay went on to various aspects of production on more than 80 presentations, including the Broadway productions of Jack O’Brien’s Damn Yankees, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Twyla Tharp’s The Times They Are A-Changin’. Included in his 23 seasons at the Old Globe were eleven seasons of the Summer Shakespeare Festival Repertory, as well as work on Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, directed by Sam Gold, and Hershey Felder’s George Gershwin Alone, Monsieur Chopin and Maestro Bernstein.
JOEL ZWICK (Maestro, Director) Joel Zwick directed My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Recent films include Fat Albert and Elvis Has Left the Building. Mr. Zwick directed the Broadway production of George Gershwin Alone at the Helen Hayes Theatre. He and Hershey Felder have also collaborated on Monsieur Chopin, Beethoven as I Knew Him and Maestro. Mr. Zwick began his theatrical career at La Mama E.T.C., as director of the La Mama Plexus. He has directed on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Broadway touring companies. Currently, Mr. Zwick is recognized as one of Hollywood’s most prolific director of episodic television, having the direction of 600 episodes to his credit. These include having directed nineteen pilots which have gone on to become regular series. Previous New York productions have included Dance With Me (Tony nomination), Shenandoah (Broadway national tour), Oklahoma (national tour) and Cold Storage(American Place Theater). He acted in the original New York production of MacBird and directed Esther (Promenade Theater, NY), Merry-Go-Round (Chicago and Las Vegas), Last Chance Saloon and Woyzeck (West End, London). Mr. Zwick has taught drama at Yale University, Brooklyn College, Queens College, Wheaton College, and the University of Southern California and is a graduate (B.A., M.A.) of Brooklyn College. He is currently directing for the Disney Channel and has been at the helm of Suite Life on Deck, Dog With a Blog, Jessie, Shake it Up, Girl Meets World and I Didn’t Do It.
* * *
Founded in 1921 by suffragettes, THE TOWN HALL began as a lecture hall and public debate forum and grew to be a landmark institution for arts, culture, and education. Over the decades, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, Billie Holiday, Igor Stravinsky, Bob Dylan, and Miles Davis have graced the stage. Today the Hall boasts the hottest acts in rock, pop, folk, cabaret, world music, comedy, and dance. Recent artists include Elvis Costello, Larry David, Ani DiFranco, Amanda Palmer, Rodriguez, Pat Metheny, Norah Jones, Brandi Carlile, Joe Jackson, Pink Martini, Regina Spektor, and Lang Lang. For over twenty-five years, The Town Hall has hosted live broadcasts of Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion and produced a number of new and critically acclaimed musical series, including Century of Change, Not Just Jazz, Broadway by the Year, Broadway Cabaret Festival and, recently, Newish Jewish Music Festival and Leyendas: Latin Music Legends. www.TheTownHall.org
The Drama Desk Award-winning
59E59 THEATERS is the number one Off-Broadway destination in New York City. In the heart of Midtown, just east of Central Park, 59E59 Theaters is a spectacular modern theater complex with three stages and a lively bar on the mezzanine level.Founded in 2002, 59E59 Theaters presents Off-Broadway productions by not-for-profit companies from across the United States and around the world. Owned and operated by the Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation, 59E59 Theaters brings new, innovative and invigorating work to East Side audiences. 59E59 Theaters aims to provide a space for emerging and established not-for-profit theater companies to reach new audiences and expand the range of theater available in an Off-Broadway setting. 59E59 Theaters is committed to fostering diversity in its theater programming.At the heart of our program is the 5A Season, a five-play season of the best American and international writing that has been carefully curated to fulfill our decade-long mission of bringing new plays to a new audience.Complementing the 5A Season we continue to carefully select groundbreaking new work from across the spectrum of the theatrical arts for our two smaller space, including an annual festival of new British theater called Brits Off Broadway and a preview of shows going to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe called East to Edinburgh. www.59E59.org