Thursday, January 24, 2008

George Gershwin Alone at the Cleveland Playhouse

I got to go to Opening Night at the Cleveland Playhouse last Wednesday for George Gershwin Alone. Enjoyed the show, and also checked out Stages, their new dining room/cocktail lounge. Below is the review I wrote for several publications.

Since it’s debut in 1999, Hershey Felder has performed George Gershwin Alone more than 3000 times. He is currently playing the role at the Cleveland Playhouse until February 3. I attended Opening Night last Wednesday, as he took us through Gershwin’s short 38-year life and ended with a sing along of favorites from the Gershwin songbook. The audience loved every minute of it.
Using every inch of a simple stage, Felder told the back story of many of the more popular tunes, played the piano and sang like a real Broadway veteran, and told stories and jokes with the ease of a Vaudeville comedian. But most of all it was about the music, one great song after another delivered by a master. “Swanee,” “Someone to Watch O’er Me,” “My Sweet Embraceable You,” “Rhapsody in Blue," "The Man That I Love,” and, of course, selections from An American in Paris and Porgy and Bess.
There were many highlights and surprises, the best being the sing along that ended the evening. After delivering a very solemn monologue about the illness that killed Gershwin, an inoperable brain tumor that he probably lived with almost his whole life, followed by an instrumental medley of classics highlighted by “Rhapsody in Blue,” Felder took a quick bow then returned to the stage with three thick song books, threw them on the piano, and literally spent a half hour taking requests for an audience sing along which included “Foggy Day in London Town,” “The Man that I Love,” and “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. All of it was wonderful stuff.
For times and dates for the rest of George Gershwin Alone at the Cleveland Playhouse visit the Playhouse on line at Also check out their upcoming shows, including another Hersey Felder project, a new one-man show about Chopin.
Several other asides from a very enjoyable evening:
I stopped in the Stages before the show; the new cocktail lounge and dining room now open to the public in what was the old Playhouse Club. I only had time for a drink or two, but found it to be a classy but comfortable place. One criticism of the Playhouse over the years has been the lack of such a place open to the public on site, and this place surely fits the bill.
Also, since it was Opening Night, a lot of the Playhouse’s older benefactors and patrons were in attendance, and I was surrounded by several couples and groups of people well into their 70’s and 80’s. The looks on their faces told you they enjoyed the show tremendously, and I realized for many of the music of the Gerswhins, as well as the contemporaries like Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, was their Beatles, their Springsteen, their Michael Stanley. Many of them danced as teen-agers to this music, and this was the music that played in the background when they fell in and out of love for the first times. For as long ago as it was, you never ever really forget such things

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Test Post

Bernie III is a STUD