Off Broadway Theatre Review
By Michael Reubens
Run, don’t walk to the 59E59 Theatre, to see the remaining few weeks of a very talented writer/performer Hershey Felder as he recreates his one-man show on the equally talented American composer and lyricist, Irving Berlin .
The Scenic Design, also by Felder, says it all: a grand piano, a Christmas tree, a wheelchair – depicting the old and young I.B., amidst assorted chairs and living room furniture and large windows in which we see the snow falling.
Felder unscrolls a history of the man and his music, from his Russian roots as a child arriving at the age of 5 to New York ’s lower East side, escaping the progrom, which so many Jews had done. From his humble beginnings as Israel Beilin to his world wide fame, creating so many hit tunes for Hollywood and Broadway, including A pretty girl is like a melody, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, There’s no business like show business, Easter Parade and God Bless America, to name but a few of his somewhat 1500 or more songs in his 60 year career as Irving Berlin.
We see Felder at the piano singing, in between unfolding a narration like a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces in tact. We see a montage of Fred Astaire, Al Jolson, Ethel Walters et al on vintage film clips as the sing-along is encouraging us, the audience, to participate by Felder. It’s like a private party and we’re all invited to share the fun!
An intimate and heart-warming show, I wouldn’t be surprised if the show is produced across the US and even London . The world needs a reminder!
Berlin was born in 1888 and died in 1989. He was 101 years old. Married twice with four children and buried at Woodlawn cemetary, the Bronx, NY.
Directed by Trevor Raye.
Runs through 0ctober 28
59 East 59th Street
New York City
T 1-212 753 5959