“Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American music,” said Jerome Kern famously. That is because Berlin wrote over 1,000 songs, some of which we’d dare to say you’ve sung yourself. Who hasn’t at least hummed along tunes like “God Bless America,” and “White Christmas”!?
The inspiring life of this composer, Irving Berlin, who was born in 1888 in Tolochi, Byelorussia, and with his family immigrated to New York in 1893, is the subject of the one-man play currently performing at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Hershey Felder, a fantastic pianist and singer, plays Berlin. In a gorgeous stage that he co-designed with director Trevor Hay, Felder sings and tells Berlin’s story for one hour and forty-five minutes without an intermission. Sounds like a long time, but it doesn’t feel like it. This one-man show is beautifully done, keeps you interested, and it even gives you the option to sing along to some of Berlin’s most beautiful creations.
The book for the play was written by Felder. He tells the story of Berlin’s young life, of his beloved wife, and his children. Often the biographical details are supported by pictures of the real Berlin and by short videos that are projected on the background, the work of projection designer Lawrence Siefert. As a team – stage, piano, and performer work together to create an intimate feeling that, as early as July, will leave you looking forward to Christmas time.
Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin is a lovely performance that we encourage you to attend. It will play Wednesday to Sunday through August 7, 2016. Tickets are priced $22 to $102 and are available at PasadenaPlayhouse.org or by calling (626) 356-7529.
The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue in Pasadena 91101.
Photo: Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin. Photo by Eighty Eight Entertainment.
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