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Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin

From 30 critic and 72 member reviews
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. More…

'Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin' brings the man behind the iconic music to life in an evening reflecting Berlin's remarkable journey from child immigrant to America's most beloved and prolific songwriter, and featuring the some of the composer's most popular and enduring songs including "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Always," "Blue Skies," "God Bless America," "Puttin' on the Ritz," "There's No Business Like Show Business," and "White Christmas."

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“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.” Full Review

Theater Life

"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." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“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." Full Review

Stage Left

“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.” Full Review

Diandra Reviews it All

“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." Full Review


“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.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"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." Full Review

New York Theater

“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.” Full Review


"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.'" Full Review

The Times of Israel

"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." Full Review

New Yorker

“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.” Full Review


“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." Full Review

AM New York

"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." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“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." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“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.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

"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." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"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." Full Review

Woman Around Town

“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." Full Review


“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.” Full Review

The New York Times

"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.” Full Review

Chicago Critic

for a previous production "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." Full Review

The Mercury News

for a previous production "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." Full Review

Theatre Eddys Blogspot

for a previous production "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." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

for a previous production "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." Full Review

Boston Globe

for a previous production "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 one of communal warmth, reflecting the populist gifts of composer and performer alike." Full Review

Entertaining, Enchanting, Delightful

See it if You want to hear great songs that you are not familiar with, sung by a charming singer, and played with ease and flair. An unforgettable bio

Don't see it if You don’t like the music of Berlin and are not at all curious about his life.

Clever, Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining, Enchanting

See it if A man with had great talent, so many songs, you know some. If you love music and want to know more.

Don't see it if If you do not like this music, and think it old.

Also This show tells you something about his life. Meeting his wife and per... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing, Great writing, Must see

See it if WONDERFUL in every respect: great music, a heartfelt story of success in show business, and a love story. Although Berlin was exceptional

Don't see it if you do not like Irving Berlin's music

Also in its talent, his love for his adopted country, it is not unique it i... Read more Read less


See it if you want to be rigorously entertained while learning about a show-biz icon.

Don't see it if you have no appreciation for a class act.

Also Hershey Felder is the epitome of a one-man show. As producer, playwrig... Read more Read less

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Must see

See it if You are interested in a fantastic production about the life of Irving Berlin and the many songs he wrote

Don't see it if Really, I believe there is no reason not to see it, only if you do not like one man shows or do not like Irving Berlin's music.

Also The set design was great. I really enjoyed this production.

Delightful, Entertaining, Refreshing

See it if if you love Irving Berlin's songs with patter between songs; if you enjoy singing along at various times; if you enjoy being entertained

Don't see it if you don't like one person shows; if you expect Hershey Felder to look like Irving Berlin

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing, Must see

See it if You would like to know the story behind the songs of Irving Berlin. See if you enjoy a terrific story line done by one individual!

Don't see it if you don't like one person performances or performances done in song.

Heavenly, Absorbing, Emotional (for me), Entertaining, Great writing

See it if you want to know about the man behind so many of the songs all of us know by heart. This is a masterful piece done with thought and style.

Don't see it if you simply don't care about Irving Berlin and the treasury of excellent music that he gave us. If that's so, go anyway and learn!

Also In the interest of full disclosure, I was in the group that went to Be... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if you're a fan of The American Songbook

Don't see it if you are not a fan of The American Songbook or are looking for a show with a big cast and splashy singing and dancing

Also This is an engaging show and Hershey Felder masterfully brings Irving ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Delightful, Must see

See it if Tells the life of Irving Berlin with great acting thru his songs

Don't see it if If you dont like great entertainment or one man show

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great singing, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy entertaining musicals and learning some historical facts about the main character.

Don't see it if you do not enjoy sappy endings or one man shows.

Delightful, Entertaining, Enchanting, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if -you like one person shows -you like to know the history of composers and the songs they wrote -you like to learn, laugh, cry and even sing

Don't see it if -you want to see a big broadway musical - you don’t know who Irving Berlin is and have no interest in the history of White Christmas

Also In terms of pure enjoyment per minute, this was one of my favourite sh... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Enchanting, Delightful

See it if You love the music of Irving Berlin. If you appreciate wonderful American songs. If you like to be entertained

Don't see it if You don’t like music

Absorbing, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You are familiar with I.B.'s music...or if you are not and would like to learn more. Interesting historical facts presented in a unique way.

Don't see it if If music of that genre is not to your liking and you reaquire more action in the theater.

Great acting, Great singing, Great writing, Great scenery, Resonant

See it if you grew up singing White Christmas and didn't really know much about Irving Berlin or because you knew a lot about Berlin.

Don't see it if you dislike 1 actor shows or you dislike Irving Berlin's music or you never heard of Berlin. Actually do see it if you don't know Berlin.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Entertaining, Dated, Indulgent

See it if you're an Irving Berlin fan & want to hear his music & learn about his life (superficially), enjoy Felder's type of show

Don't see it if you're not a fan of Berlin, don't like ragtime, movie music of the 30's & 40's, or music of Broadway in the 30's-50's, or 1 person shows

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great singing

See it if you want to spend time in the life of the man whose songs defined the twentieth century.

Don't see it if you do not like one man shows.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great staging, Romantic, Enchanting

See it if You love Irving Berlin's music. You like a feel good story about an immigrant. You like the back story of what inspired Berlin's songs.

Don't see it if If you don't like a somewhat sentimental story.

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Masterful

See it if Classic Hershey Felder at his best. Theater A at 59 E 59 is a perfect intimate venue for his magical performance. A delightful evening.

Don't see it if If you are expecting a full musical production or if you do not like a solo show.

Great singing, Fluffy, Refreshing, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you enjoy Berlin's music and are interested in learning a little more about his life. Felder is charming and the show is an enjoyable event.

Don't see it if you need fast-paced or profound theatre. This is just a stroll through Berlin's life and music. Nothing more. It is old-fashioned, but fun.

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny, Great singing

See it if You love nostalgia; you know (or what to learn about Irving Berlins life.) 1 hour & 45 minutes down memory lane.

Don't see it if You do not enjoy "biographical" shows, unless the lead (i.e. the subject of the bio) is a celebrity.

Also Loved the projections! Nice touch.

Clever, Entertaining, Great writing, Refreshing, Absorbing

See it if you have an interest in Berlin's work. Even though I was familiar with his songs, the scope of his outcome is just amazing.

Don't see it if you're put off by sentiment, as Felder does get emotional retelling some of the sadder aspects of Berlin's life.

Intelligent, Great staging, Great singing, Entertaining, Masterful

See it if Broadway musical history one man show at its finest. Learned a lot. Hershey Felder did a great job channeling Berlin

Don't see it if You prefer a show with an intermission and don’t like old musical numbers or one man shows with sing alongs or old grouch in old age

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Quirky, Absorbing

See it if you would enjoy a highly entertaining performance by a masterful musician, actor and singer portraying the amazing life of Irving Berlin.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of small stage, one man biographies. Mr. Felder can be wildly flamboyant but his talent definitely carries the day.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great singing, Must see

See it if You want to learn about the life of Irving Berlin and hear songs. Great acting. Loved the format of it. Must see

Don't see it if You do not like biographical pieces.

Cast & Creatives (9)