George Gershwin Alone | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Dec. 23-30 2009
Phone: 312-642-2000
Price: $55-$60
Twentieth-century American musical theater and popular song were largely the result of a melding of two "outsider" influences--European Jewish and African American--and George Gershwin, the son of Russian immigrants who immersed himself in black culture, epitomized that cross-pollenization. The musical poet laureate of the Jazz Age and the Depression, he created works of haunting richness by repeating delicate melodic fragments while changing the harmonies underneath them. But he also, as he said, heard "“music in the very heart of the noise," turning the chugging of a train into the driving rhythms of Rhapsody in Blue and incorporating real taxi horns into the score of An American in Paris. In this one-man show, actor-pianist Hershey Felder illuminates Gershwin's craft while drawing us into the soul of this ambitious, obsessive, pioneering artist. Felder's intense connection to his subject allowed me to accept the conceit that Gershwin was speaking from beyond the grave, recounting his triumphs and failures, his tense relations with his parents, his close bond with his lyricist brother Ira, his affair with fellow composer Kay Swift, and his working relationships with such giants as Al Jolson and Sam Goldwyn. Felder's insightful narrative is complemented by sometimes gentle, sometimes bombastic piano renditions of Gershwin classics--standards such as "Love Is Here to Stay," "Swanee," and "The Man I Love," selections from the operatic masterpiece Porgy and Bess, and a solo arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue. --Albert Williams


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