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April 09, 2004 - Image 39

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-04-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

L J

GORGE OU S

Hershey Felder portrays George

Gershwin in a smash one-man

show coming to Kalamazoo's

Gilmore International

Keyboard Festival.

SUZANNE CHESSLER
Special to the Jewish News

113

ershey Felder's production about George Gershwin gets
billing as a one-man show, but many more people join
in before the performance ends. Felder, the writer-actor-
pianist who created and stars in George Gershwin Alone,
invites the audience to sing along with him during the encore.
The theater piece, which explores Gershwin's life through narra-
tive and the music he composed, will be staged
April 23-May 1 as part of Kalamazoo's living S. Gilmore
International Keyboard Festival.
Gershwin fans will hear a complete rendition of the now-classic
piano piece Rhapsody in Blue, songs from the opera
Porgy and Bess and numbers developed for Broadway shows that
also feature the lyrics of brother Ira Gershwin.
"I began asking people to sing along because I was able to hear
members of the audience softly singing or humming the tunes at
every performance," says Felder, 35, who has spent four years tour-
ing his play with stops on Broadway and more recently along
London's West End.

fiershey Felder opt the set t)f
"George Gershwin Alone'

"On a very hot July 4 in New York City, I suggested that the audience stick around in a
comfy, air-conditioned theater for a wonderful musical celebration as an encore. Sure
enough, the idea [caught on] and people sing their hearts out every single night."
The actual idea for the production developed from an earlier theater piece, Sing, which
Felder also wrote and performed. The piece was based on a survivor Felder interviewed in
Poland, where he served as a volunteer for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation.
Sing relates the experiences of Helmuth Spryzcer, who saved himself by whistling
themes from Rhapsody in Blue for his German captors, but Sing was stopped by the people
who held the rights to the Gershwin catalog.
While trying to save the show through contacts with the Gershwin family, Felder got
the idea for George Gershwin Alone, and the versatile entertainer credits the acceptance of
the show to Adam Gershwin, who has strong Detroit connections.
The great-nephew of the songwriting team and a member of the Gershwin Family
Trust, Adam is the son of former Detroiter Andrea Gordon Gershwin and the husband of
former Detroiter Amy Salesin Gershwin.
"Adam was the first person who had faith that this was going to be a huge hit, and
Adam and Amy have become good friends of mine," says Felder, who researched his topic
through family interviews and visits to the archives at the Library of Congress. "I was

Hershey Felder channels composer George Gershwin in his one-man show.

GORGEOUS 'GEORGE' on page 44

4/ 9
2004

39

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