‘There’s a place for us, Somewhere a place for us. Peace and quiet and open air. Wait for us. Somewhere.’
One of my favorite songs from a musical is “Somewhere” from WEST SIDE STORY. It’s the kind of song that escalates from a whisper to a roar. The music is this powerful composite of agony and ecstasy. When I hear it, I get swept up in the hopeful pain. I want to sing it… loud… standing on my chair. I want to be a great singer instead I’m a great appreciator.
Eighty Eight Entertainment and Samantha F. Voxakis presents Hershey Felder in MAESTRO: The Art of Leonard Bernstein. This one man show is a musical history lesson. Award-winning actor and musician Hershey Felder narrates the biography of Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). Felder embodies the iconic conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. Bernstein’s life in Hershey’s examination shows a man conflicted between wanting to be a great composer and being a great conductor. A man wishing to be an ideal husband while struggling with his homosexuality. A man striving for legendary Beethoven genius status but best known for the score of the WEST SIDE STORY musical. MAESTRO: The Art of Leonard Bernstein is like spending the night with a ghost haunted by his past.
Upon arrival, the music lesson starts immediately. Actual television clips of Bernstein’s classic music lectures are projected on stage. The ghost of a younger Bernstein already manifests in the theatre. When Hershey Felder arrives as the older version of Bernstein, it’s like looking in a mirror decades apart. Felder becomes his inspirations. In the past, he has depicted Gershwin, Chopin and Beethoven. He researches the gentlemen and then transforms into them. Serving as writer and performer, Felder is a walking, piano playing autobiography. In MAESTRO, Felder interjects humor into his droll dissertation. As Bernstein, he pokes fun of his successes and failures. It’s a powerful depiction of arrogance and loathing. Between Felder’s rhythmic hand movements and his soothing monotone, I’m lulled into a classical music drowsiness.
There is no doubt Hershey Felder is talented. Fans of his other historical reenactments will exclaim ‘he’s done it again!‘ It’s definitely a worthy shtick to see. But if you are like me and a certain masculine octave induces tranquility, caffeine up so you don’t miss any of MAESTRO’s story!
A man I could listen to all night, James describes it with ‘a semi-suite peek.’
Running Time: One hundred minutes with no intermission.
At Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted
Text by Hershey Felder
Music by Leonard Berstein and others
Directed by Joel Zwick
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm
Sundays at 2pm and 5pm
Thru December 30th