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Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin
Midtown E
85

Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin NYC Reviews and Tickets

85%
(72 Reviews)
Positive
94%
Mixed
6%
Negative
0%
Members say
Entertaining, Delightful, Absorbing, Clever, Great singing

About the Show

Hershey Felder ('Maestro') returns to 59E59 for another solo show exploring the life of a legendary composer.

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Member Reviews (72)

65
Dinner theater, Sing-a-long, Overly mannered performance, Flattened emotion, Some great stories/songs

See it if you're comfortable w/hammy, mannered acting. Stories are great (altho their impact is diminished) as are songs (altho HF's voice is meh).

Don't see it if you have high standards. This is cruise ship fare, complete w/sing along. HF annoyed me, even his piano flourishes. Accent is inconsistent. Read more

78
Great acting, Great singing, Great staging, Resonant

See it if If you like Irving Berlin, I think you will like this one. Good songs done well by Felder. Good direction.

Don't see it if If you don't like songs by Irving Berlin or if you don't like musicals.

Critic Reviews (30)

September 11th, 2018

"Felder plays no version of Berlin the world might recognize or wish to...Felder’s acting is as broad as a silent-movie villain’s, except that he’s talking. And talking. Or, too often, singing...Felder delivers them all in a weird, unpleasant vocal style that manages the difficult trick of making the songs seem both unvaried and unmelodic...So much is wrong with ‘Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin’ that I eventually started to wonder whether it was actively passive-aggressive.”
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September 8th, 2018

“This lovely one-man show, written and performed by Felder and directed by Trevor Hay, is set on Christmas Eve, 1988, as the centenarian invites carollers into his Beekman Place house, tells the story of his life, and reveals the sources of his songs. Felder is a good monologuist, but, more important, he’s an exquisite singer and a virtuosic pianist, and his love for Berlin’s music fills the theatre.”
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September 6th, 2018

"Felder portrays Berlin with a restless intensity, suggesting Berlin’s determination to succeed, fervent patriotism, love for his family and anger at becoming a casualty of the rock and roll revolution. Even though the show is constructed in a by-the-number fashion, and the writing can be heavy-handed and overloaded with exposition, it is truly engrossing and heartfelt. Oddly enough, it also represents the modern jukebox musical at its most simple, persuasive and dramatically effective levels."
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September 6th, 2018

“An occasionally hokey but ultimately loving biographical tribute...While the show has about as much depth as a Wikipedia entry, Felder takes great care in his presentation, his affection for his subject shining in every single moment...The show has no right to work this well, but because of Felder's warm and sensitive portrayal, it does...There are a few points when Felder is a little too much of a showman...Felder proves Berlin is more than just a legend. Thanks to his music, he's immortal."
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September 7th, 2018

“Felder not only creates the character of Berlin but also those of his musical assistants, his...wives...and a number of others...Felder is so adept at this stagecraft that the audience feels as though these other people are actually onstage. Through his riveting acting and superb musicianship, Felder's portrayal of Berlin makes this American musical icon come alive again...Hay delightfully serves Felder's book as Director of this magnificently conceived production.”
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September 6th, 2018

"It's a canny strategy, presenting a double vision of the man in his heyday, while nevertheless warning us where his story is headed: Berlin led a life that, for all its triumphs, was marked by bizarre and often random ill fortune...Felder has the big picture and it is a lively, crowded canvas, filled with laughter and real feeling...Of the performances by Felder that I've seen, this is surely the strongest; he seems to have bonded more fully with Berlin than his other subjects."
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September 5th, 2018

“Felder is at his best when he moves away from his baby grand piano and his virtuoso arrangements of the Berlin repertoire, and stands quietly to sing an unaccompanied medley. It is then that you can best appreciate the blend of music and lyrics...Unfortunately, we don't get to know nearly as much about Berlin the man...Beyond the songs and the stories of their creation...snippets of biography and the anecdotes, we are largely left to our own devices to discern what drove him.”
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September 5th, 2018

"Although Felder is scarcely an actor, he’s okay as a genial storyteller, and even better as a rather flashy pianist...The production is modest yet capable. Trevor Hay, the director, neatly paces the easygoing flow of the show...Not a high-concept entertainment that aims to garner new admirers of the songwriter’s works or to provide fresh insights...It is instead a sincere and agreeably performed musical celebration of a great American artist and the enduring songs that he wrote."
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September 10th, 2018

"Using a format that has worked for him before in his George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein evenings, Hershey Felder has returned to 59E59 Theaters in a charming biographical musical as legendary songwriter Irving Berlin. As Felder narrates his story becoming Berlin, he also sings and plays over 30 of his most famous songs, as well as some not so familiar today, including 'Blue Skies,' 'White Christmas' and the iconic, 'God Bless America.'"
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September 5th, 2018

“Felder assumes the character of Berlin in this absorbing...musical one man show...Felder interpolates every nuance, and mannerism in song and style of the great Berlin, drawing his audience into the fold...Each hit song presented another opportunity for the brilliant Felder to sing, play and portray, relating more emotional storyline...A show for anyone who loves the Great American Songbook, cleverly and smartly constructed by the talented Felder."
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September 6th, 2018

"I’m not sure if Felder purposely tries to imitate Berlin’s voice but his singing is definitely a weakness in the show...The audience learns a great deal about Berlin’s contributions...Felder is a skilled pianist and plays the songs with a flourish, even accompanying the singers on the screen...'Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin' will resonate best with people of a certain age-those who grew up with Berlin’s music and feel sentimental about his songs."
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September 7th, 2018

“Felder saunters out...and speaks directly to us...A dramatic opening set-up that is charming and sweetly engaging...Directed simply and efficiently...Berlin’s story is warmly told, simply and with a slight braggart’s charm as Felder begins this compelling tale with a slice of Jewish history...It’s not so much an in-depth look at the man...but what Felder gives us is more a star-struck biography of his music...Felder is a talented piano player and a compelling although not powerful singer."
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September 5th, 2018

“There are signs that, in this one-man show about arguably the greatest of American songwriters, we’re in for an evening of schmaltz...But, as it turns out, schmaltz is delicious, when ladled out by Felder, an accomplished pianist, a competent singer, and even a delightful mimic...A polished, old-fashioned entertainment by a man who has made a career out of creating solo shows about great musical figures.”
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September 6th, 2018

"Felder's New York accent is a bit off, and he doesn't shy from grandstanding when singing or piano playing. But these are minor drawbacks; it's impossible to think of anyone else who could not only write and design but perform such a show with similar musical virtuosity, assurance, and aplomb. Berlin's songs, many of them written for Broadway shows (Annie Get Your Gun, for example) and Hollywood, were the lifeblood of America's pop music during the first half of the 20th century."
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September 6th, 2018

“Extraordinary performance that is among the best of one-person shows I have seen over the years...Felder casts a spell as he becomes the great, prolific composer...The production is beautifully directed by Trevor Hay...Felder is a whiz at the piano, and also keeps proving to be a fine actor as he builds a character and connects with his audience...The weaving of the material works so well dramatically that the result is consistently enchanting.”
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September 8th, 2018

“It’s a terrific tale and, as always, Felder has done copious research. Placing songs in context is deftly achieved....Unfortunately, Felder’s Yiddish accent ebbs and flows...He pushes his singing voice too far, hams up stylized performance rather than presenting a flesh and blood man...The show is also too long...Felder has evoked other important artists much more successfully. Direction by Trevor Hay, responsible for several other Felder productions, loses its compass here."
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September 5th, 2018

“Felder entertainingly performs a docudrama of Berlin’s life through song and story. An intimate, one-man show...Felder crafts a compelling character in his portrayal of Irving Berlin...Behind every song is a story, and the ones here assembled are irresistible...Felder’s presentation is a pure delight...Informative and irresistible, the show does not rely on nostalgia for its success, and Felder gives a compelling and convincing performance.”
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September 5th, 2018

“Felder deserves to be a one man show because no one can compete with his talent...He enraptures you...Felder uses his body and voice to transform into what feels like the millions of people that crossed Irving’s path to make him become one of the greatest songwriters that ever lived...While you will walk away from 'Hershey Felder As Irving Berlin' convinced this is the most talented man you have ever seen, the greatest accomplishment of Felder is showing Berlin was a good person."
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September 13th, 2018

“Unabashedly sentimental, one-man show...With book and scenic design by Felder – who duly credits historian Maiya – the performance is directed as a 1-hour-45 min. biographical songbook by Hay...My problem with Felder’s cynical portrayal of Irving Berlin is that it doesn’t resemble the elderly gentleman I met a few times and whose daughters I knew. Adding insult to injury, his caricatured imitation of Ethel Merman...goes beyond insulting.”
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September 13th, 2018

"An accomplished pianist and respectable singer, Felder incorporates Berlin’s songs seamlessly into his script so they feel organic to the show. Encouraging the audience to sing along with the most popular songs, he underlines how deeply Berlin’s music is embedded in our culture...Berlin’s direct and sincere faith in the ideals of the country he embraced as his own poured out in many of his songs, and it is affecting and inspiring to hear them now."
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November 26th, 2014

"Adroitly directed...Felder-as-Berlin recounts the story of his life, tragedies and triumphs alike, which in turns cues up the songs...The results are richly entertaining and ultimately touching, though not without some issues. Repetitions in tone and text could stand a few trims...The empathy, showmanship and craft on tap may just be the best match of historical figure and performing artist yet in this franchise."
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November 21st, 2014

"Enriching, humorous, and replete with most of the brilliant Berlin tunes...There is much to be learned about Irving Berlin through Felder's eyes...Felder's odyssey of Irving Berlin's life and career is chock full of precious facts and memories...Once again Felder, under Trevor Hay's loving direction, envelops himself in his characterization and has a ball, breaking the fourth wall and playing it full-out to the audience."
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June 7th, 2016

"It doesn’t take long to figure out Felder is going to make this bio-play fun. His writing is smart, yes, but more, his delivery is animated, expressive, and perfectly nuanced. As he slips easily into and out of other characters it becomes apparent that a good deal of the enjoyment comes from Felder’s pitch-perfect timing. There are jokes and witticisms...Thank you, Irving Berlin, and thank you, Hershey Felder, for sharing him with us so caringly."
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July 11th, 2015

"An affectionate portrait of Berlin...In crafting this crowd-pleasing solo show about Berlin’s life and career, Felder and director Trevor Hay are not bashful about pulling — make that yanking — the heartstrings. But even the sentimental moments are palatable, since they’re consistent with the man under consideration...The prevailing mood...is one of communal warmth, reflecting the populist gifts of composer and performer alike."
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January 17th, 2016

"Few embody the spirit of Irving Berlin’s classic show tunes quite like Hershey Felder...If this show isn’t quite as deeply developed theatrically as some of his other solos, he’s such a charming performer that a few creaky bits hardly matter...The historical anecdotes are telling, the songs are unforgettable, and his Ethel Merman imitation is a hoot...Like all of Felder’s shows, there are moments here that will put a tear in your eye and a song in your heart at the same time."
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December 29th, 2017

"A gifted (and well trained) musician in his own right, Felder makes liberal use of both the onstage piano and his own gifts of imitation...Felder has done his homework, and there’s something for everyone to learn, imparted in an utterly engaging manner. The audience is even invited to sing along from time to time. Hay is back to direct, and the show plays out on a simple but effective apartment set with two huge picture windows effectively used for outside atmosphere and/or projections."
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April 19th, 2016

"There’s a subtext to the script that gives it an unusual resonance beyond just a 'behind the music' story, though it’s quite entertaining on that level...Still photos and video designed by Andrew Wilder and Lawrence Siefert are seamlessly integrated into the storytelling to provide additional historical context...A marvelous history lesson as well as an entertaining and moving show. Like all good history lessons, it has resonance for the present."
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April 11th, 2016

"This current bio/musical is Felder’s tour de force...He grabs us and carries us through the life of his subject with depth and panache. Felder has the rare gift of making subject immensely empathetic...Felder deftly plays many characters in Berlin’s life as he moves from a young vigorous lad to a 100-year-old man...Felder is at the top of his theatrical game! This is his finest one person show, don’t miss it."
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January 25th, 2015

"Felder’s well-written and well-designed show is chock full of surprising and poignant moments...What’s interesting is his unearthing of little-known gems Berlin wrote as a teenager...And there are some eye-opening stories behind some of his best-known hits...Berlin and Felder are a bit of perfect marriage. Like Berlin, Felder is a showman, storyteller, entrepreneur, and Jewish immigrant who has found a large and devoted audience in America."
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April 6th, 2017

"Felder becomes Irving Berlin as a century of his life and of American history unfolds before us in songs and stories galore...The insights we gain of Berlin are by the dozens as the evening progresses...When at the piano as Berlin, Mr. Felder’s fingers’ fly lightly across the keyboard with speed and spark while his voice often floats in dreamy melodic ease...To be entertained while also learning so much history...that is a gift."
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