Sunday, September 11, 2016
Last Tuesday we attended a performance of Maestro, a tribute to the music and life of Leonard Bernstein at the 59E59 theater in Manhattan. It's a one-man show by Hershey Felder, the Canadian pianist, actor, playwright, composer, producer, and director.
A few months ago we saw him at Town Hall in a one-man show portraying the music and life of Irving Berlin. Both performances were sold out and Felder received a well-deserved standing ovation. In both productions, for an hour and forty-five minutes, without an intermission, Felder transformed himself into these musical legends with a sense of humor and respect for their musical achievements.
We later learned that he has also performed similar shows as Chopin, Beethoven, and Gershwin.
In Maestro, Felder emphasized Bernstein's strong Jewish background and its influence on his works. This included his father's attempts to steer him away from music and toward study of Talmud, and his composing the Jeremiah Symphony, excerpts of which he played onstage with a backdrop of the Hebrew text of Eicha (Lamentations), the book which is read in the synagogue on Tisha B'Av.
In the production, Felder shows the many sides of Leonard Bernstein and expresses his sadness that despite his desire to be known as a composer of classical music, his work in the popular sphere insured that he is remembered most as a conductor and the composer of West Side Story.
Below is a video clip of Felder as Bernstein reflecting on the composition of Maria from West Side Story.
We highly recommend this production if you're in New York now through October 16.
Tickets are available online, by phone, and in person.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)