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South Coast Repertory (Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei) presents pianist/actor/playwright/producer Hershey Felder for a limited engagement of Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone, Jan. 18-28 on the Julianne Argyros Stage. Gershwin, the legendary composer of hundreds of iconic American standards, comes to life onstage in a musical performance declared, “’S Wonderful, ’S Marvelous!” by The Washington Post, “Sheer joy” by the San Francisco Chronicle and “Glorious. Poignant, moving and fascinating” by USA Today.
Born in Los Angeles on stage of the now-gone Tiffany Theatre on Sunset Boulevard 26 years ago in 1998, Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone has played to audiences worldwide for more than 3,000 performances, ranging from Los Angeles to South Korea with Broadway and London’s West End in between. This presentation will be Felder’s farewell to a beloved character who left us tragically in 1937 at the tender age of 38.
“As we continue to explore new ways to attract, grow and retain audiences, we remain committed to bringing theatre of the highest quality to our stages. This includes introducing new voices and artists as part of our overall mix of programming, making room for special offerings like this one,” Tomei said. “We’ve admired Hershey’s remarkable talent for many years and are especially fortunate to be included in the farewell tour of this particular production, which Hershey has shared through more than 3,000 performances in more than 100 venues worldwide.”
This exploration of Gershwin’s short but extraordinary life illuminates the master tunesmith whose work shaped a distinctly American style of music. Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone spotlights this brilliant composer’s prolific partnership with his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin, and incorporates beloved songs ranging from the popular hits, “Fascinating Rhythm,” “I Got Rhythm,” “’S Wonderful,” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” to excerpts from groundbreaking musicals Porgy and Bess and An American in Paris, and a complete performance of “Rhapsody in Blue.”
“It’s an extraordinary thing to have Hershey Felder with us,” Ivers said. “I’ve long admired Hershey, his depth of talent and his fundamental ability to tell stories on and off ‘the keys.’ His keen perspective, huge intelligence, genuine sense of humor and open heart make him an ideal guest during our celebratory 60th season here at SCR.”
Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone features the music and lyrics of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, with a book and concept design by Hershey Felder. Joel Zwick directs the production. Trevor Hay is the associate director. Lighting is by Michael Gilliam and sound is by Erik Carstensen.
George Gershwin was born in 1898 to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn and composed his first hit at 21. All told, he wrote more than 1,000 songs for the stage and screen as well as works for the opera and for the symphony orchestra. Gershwin died of an undiagnosed brain tumor in 1937 at the age of 38, leaving behind a legion of bereft fans and an astonishing legacy of enduring music that has never dimmed in popularity.
Following 28 years of continuous stage work and over 6,000 live performances throughout the U.S. and abroad, Felder created Live from Florence, An Arts Broadcasting Company, which has produced eighteen theatrical films to date. They include the recently-released The Assembly; Musical Tales in The Venetian Jewish Ghetto; Chopin and Liszt in Paris; Violetta, the story of Verdi’s Traviata; Dante and Beatrice in Florence; Mozart and Figaro in Vienna; the world premiere musicals Nicholas, Anna & Sergei; the story of Sergei Rachmaninoff; Puccini, the story of famed opera composer Giacomo Puccini; Before Fiddler, a musical story about writer Sholem Aleichem; Great American Songs and the Stories Behind Them, Leonard Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic, a documentary. Two seasons of programming are currently available at www.hersheyfelder.net Felder has given performances of his solo productions at some of the world’s most prestigious theatres and has consistently broken box-office records. His live 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, Lincoln: An American Story, Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin, Our Great Tchaikovsky, and A Paris Love Story and Chopin in Paris. 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. Felder is the adaptor, director, and designer for the internationally performed play-with-music The Pianist of Willesden Lane with Steinway artist Mona Golabek; producer and designer for the musical Louis and Keely: ‘Live’ at the Sahara, directed by Taylor Hackford; and writer and director for Flying Solo, featuring opera legend Nathan Gunn. Felder 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.
Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone received generous support from Honorary Producer Michael Ray.
Location: South Coast Repertory is located at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, at the Bristol Street/Avenue of the Arts exit off the San Diego (405) Freeway in the David Emmes/Martin Benson Theatre Center, part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Parking is available on Park Center Drive, off Anton Boulevard.
2023-24 Upcoming Productions: Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone, Jan. 18-28; (Theatre for Young Audiences) Alice’s Wonderland, Feb. 10-25; Prelude to a Kiss, The Musical, April 5-May 4; Galilee, 34, April 21-May 12. Outside SCR’s The Old Man and the Old Moon at Mission San Juan Capistrano, July 20-Aug. 11. The annual showcase of new works, the Pacific Playwrights Festival, runs May 3-5.Complete information is available at www.scr.org.