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Maestro

Members say: Entertaining, Absorbing, Masterful, Intelligent, Great acting
82
Critics
80
27 reviews
Members
82
70 reviews
 

Pianist, actor, and playwright, Hershey Felder, brings one of America's greatest musical legends to life in this solo show about Leonard Bernstein.

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After one-man shows about legendary composers Gershwin, Chopin, and Beethoven, Felder turns his attention to multihyphenate Bernstein. Conductor, composer, pianist, author, teacher, librettist, television star, and composer of 'West Side Story,' 'Candide,' and 'On the Town.' Bernstein pushed all boundaries to become the world's first serious musical superstar. In 'Maestro,' Hershey Felder combines monologues with Leonard Bernstein's work, along with music by Beethoven, Wagner, Mahler, Copland, and others.

 

Cast & Creatives (5)



Reviews (97)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
80
Avg Score

55
The New York Times

"Mr. Felder doesn’t have the magnetism of the musician who inspired a generation of artists...The music that Mr. Felder plays, quite nicely on a gleaming grand piano, is the best part of this show, which at an intermissionless 105 minutes is both overlong and insubstantial...The script lacks the necessary grace, but 'Maestro' has some amusing moments...Mr. Felder never manages to slip into Bernstein’s skin, though...It’s a surface-skimming survey of a fascinating life." Full Review

75
Theatermania

"What begins as a fairly dense talk on music theory transitions into something much more personal...Felder fully commits to the kind of broad and ballsy choices necessary for a good solo show. That still doesn't alleviate the falseness that creeps into the play...But if Felder's portrayal of Bernstein feels occasionally inauthentic, his musicality is the real deal...In the end, the showmanship of 'Maestro' compensates for the messiness of the script." Full Review

95
BroadwayWorld

"The show enjoys exceptional direction by Joel Zwick...Get your tickets now. This production is sure to be a sell-out...Bravo to Hershey Felder for bringing Leonard Bernstein to life right before your eyes. Felder completely masters the role with his own extraordinary musical gifts and showmanship. He captivates the audience from the first moment he steps onstage to the curtain call...Music lovers and many more will relish the opportunity to see this show." Full Review

80
Lighting & Sound America

"Felder's performance gets at the torment of an artist chasing too many muses, wearing his soul out in the process. A fine pianist, Felder adds resonance to the proceedings by playing various excerpts...If 'Maestro' largely amounts to a brisk guided tour of Bernstein's life, it powerfully suggests the intoxicating effect of music on a complex character torn between creative and self-destructive impulses; as such it is far more dramatic than so many solo biographical plays." Full Review

85
Broadway Blog

“Putting a life so densely packed with creative activity into such a brief span is sure to make Bernstein addicts squirm at what’s been left out or to grimace at how different from Bernstein Felder looks, sounds, and behaves (one barely smoked cigarette at the start and that’s it); even then, they may feel, with many others, the need to stand and yell ‘Bravo’ when the show draws to its close and the full impact of Felder’s tour de force presentation is absorbed.” Full Review

70
Talkin' Broadway

"The play and Felder are better when they abandon the pretense and strip away the theatrical excesses...Felder has no trouble making him surface-level compelling, so the evening is not hard to watch, and it's frequently enjoyable as far as it goes...But it's tough to worry too much about whether Bernstein has found his particular immortality through 'second-rate' compositions when, in his own story, he's willing to come across as a supporting player." Full Review

90
Times Square Chronicles

"Felder is a wonderful pianist with a virtuosity that is thrillingly played with subtle nuances. As a writer, he brings a deep knowledge of music history, so that by the end, we feel as if we know who Leonard Bernstein the man was. He sings the pieces with passion and flair...Director Joel Zwick adds a darker side, which is forceful and very much like the man himself. This man was arrogant, brilliant, conflicted and highly complex. Mr Felder manages to bring all that plus compassion." Full Review

75
CurtainUp

"An enjoyable narrative with some wonderful music...Felder's not looking or sounding like Bernstein doesn't really matter since he frequently segues into other key figures...He handles the singing and stage presence required to do so competently...Whatever the shortcomings of the script and Felder being a truly compelling Lenny, he deserves credit for giving equal time to the compositions that Bernstein was so eager to have appreciated as much as his more popular theater scores." Full Review

90
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Hershey Felder’s stunning tribute to the life and work of Leonard Bernstein is a work brimming with affection and respect…Mr. Felder bristles with energy as he darts from chair to Steinway grand piano sharing Bernstein’s life and legacy with an impassioned commitment to transparency and authenticity…Kudos to Hershey Felder and director Joel Zwick for creating and presenting a memorable and bittersweet bio-play of one of America’s greatest talents." Full Review

65
Bob's Theater Blog

"Felder’s approach to his life is mainly chronological and gamely attempts to cover many aspects: conductor, educator, social activist, bisexual and flawed husband. The early scenes with his father, speaking with a heavy Yiddish accent, were embarrassingly stereotypical...The musical clips were frustratingly brief...There was a brief moment near the end, in which Bernstein lashes out at the world, that gave me a sense of how much more powerful the piece could have been." Full Review

85
Woman Around Town

"Beautifully written…Though serious musicians are likely to garner somewhat more from the piece, it’s as entertaining as it is intermittently scholarly and most definitely a character portrait...It could successfully be 10-15 minutes shorter in music, but the libretto is terrific and the show holds…Felder is appreciative and sympathetic but not, mercifully, starry-eyed; a fine pianist, a fair singer, a splendid writer and a fully invested performer…Director Joel Zwick does a virtuoso job." Full Review

85
TheaterScene.net

"'Maestro', the one-person play written by and starring the extraordinarily talented Hershey Felder, is both deeply moving and frustrating, as any story about a genius usually is—frustrating because of the difficulty of getting into the head of a awesome talent." Full Review

90
Theatre is Easy

"A delight…It is such a rare opportunity to see the combination of great acting, singing, conducting, and piano performance…It is an inspiring tale, coming from a playwright who deeply understands the soul of music, and not just its tuneful melodies. Felder is clearly someone who truly loves music and is able to capture, in words and stories, the transcending, life-changing qualities of great music from our past masters…This is a fascinating play, a must-see even if you are a beginner to music." Full Review

55
Epoch Times

"We travel on a genial journey through Bernstein’s life, as the show moves from one incident or encounter to the next without offering any potent glimpses into Bernstein…This lack of depth and habitual glossing over significant incidents in Bernstein’s life prevent the audience from getting a really clear picture of the man…With a little more focus, ‘Maestro’ could be quite compelling, but as it stands now, it doesn’t penetrate into its subject matter nearly enough." Full Review

90
Theater Life

"Felder doesn’t need more than a piano, a chair, lighting, a few slides and the excellent direction of Joel Zwick to work his magic...Despite his oversize ego, Bernstein is always human and often funny. Felder makes Bernstein a fine mimic. And his Yiddish accent is impeccable. However, even without the outstanding writing and acting, the opportunity to hear Felder play not only Bernstein, but also Gershwin, Copland, Wagner and many others is a sheer pleasure." Full Review

90
Theater Pizzazz

"I wondered who to admire more – the subject of this bio-play or the remarkable artist who wrote and performed it...With skill and care, Felder has compressed Bernstein’s moving life story into an exhilarating show...What makes Maestro soar is the sublime music...Watching Hershey Felder’s charismatic, passionate, transforming performance, one senses there is a lot of 'Lenny' in Hershey." Full Review

85
Let's Talk Off-Broadway

"A 90-minute fest of music, wit and insight…Felder plays Bernstein’s biography with tremendous verve and excitement, and sings it with great range and passion…Felder goes beyond his own musical virtuosity in bringing us an intelligent and thoughtful interpretation of a major figure in music–in whichever mode!–of the 20th century. In 'Maestro,' the ideas are rich and the music compelling and joyous." Full Review

95
Manhattan With a Twist

"Felder is spellbinding as Bernstein...He has us looking at him, letting ourselves be conducted through the music of the book he wrote and putting us in a grip that he does not let go for its hour and forty-five minute run...Felder combines his book with Bernstein’s music as well as the classics that inspired the musician, and this creates some of the most spectacular moments in a solo show in recent memory...A masterclass in theatrical production." Full Review

80
Off Off Online

"Beautifully directed by Joel Zwick, the work uses projection and lighting as well as audio in striking, even brilliant ways...In bringing us a character whose passion and achievements were in music, Felder’s own musicianship, his teaching moments riffing on music that occur throughout the play, and his prowess at the keyboard, bring us more deeply into the soul of Bernstein than this genre might have otherwise permitted." Full Review

80
Plays to See

"Felder is a gloriously gifted mimic. The portrayals of each new character are remarkably specific, colorful and detailed...Two elements are missing...The wit, passion, anger and regret are all present. The audience just never gets the big, joyous bombast of the man. The scenes involving his personal life, his marriage and his children are curiously flat. The passion–and there is much of it–is all in the music...Overall, this is an absolutely mesmerizing piece that I would recommend." Full Review

90
BroadwayWorld

“An insightful and unapologetic chronicle of a true genius and a truly flawed man…The manner in which Felder actualizes Bernstein’s epiphany is nothing short of pure theatrical magic…It is a riveting piece of stage craft. Moments of this kind of singular beauty have become increasingly rare in contemporary theater…This writer, an admitted Bernstein fanatic who was already fully aware of all the important events, still found himself sitting on the edge of his seat." Full Review

80
Chicago Theatre Review

for a previous production "Felder knows very well he can bring his audience to his feet by impressing them at the piano. He certainly plays a good deal in 'Maestro' but to his great credit, he's walked away from the stuff he finds easiest...Felder has more material than he has time to present and the show falters in the last few minutes...But 'Maestro' remains this talented performer's most revealing, and certainly most moving, piece of work." Full Review

75
SF Gate

for a previous production "Felder picks up the rhythms and inflections of a somewhat older Bernstein so smoothly that he has the audience in the palm of his hand. And, for the most part, keeps us there with a blend of biography, humor, piano virtuosity, pathos and musical appreciation...But there are great gaps in the story...The play may fall short by sacrificing too much of the life to its themes. But Felder's enthusiasm, humor and proficiency keep it engaging in the moment." Full Review

80
San Diego Union-Tribune

for a previous production "Bernstein's biography is easily the most fascinating, complex and thought-provoking of the theatrical portraits, and Felder delves deeper into Bernstein's tortured psyche than he went with the 1999 debut piece on Gershwin...It's a gripping portrait, studded with fine performances of Bernstein's most famous and obscure compositions. Felder's a stronger pianist than a singer, but he sings with passion and conviction, so it works well enough." Full Review

80
Stark Insider

for a previous production "'Maestro' will have few surprises for Bernstein fans...Felder doesn’t pretend to have an exhaustive take on his subject...The plausibility of Felder’s performance grows on you...Watching Felder’s Bernstein conduct the Vienna Philharmonic playing Wagner, you’re immediately in the moment, understanding perhaps, for the first time, Bernstein’s take on something so hugely heroic...Felder may be the best link we have to channeling the magic that is Bernstein." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
82
Avg Score

95
Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Masterful, Great music

See it if You have an interest in Leonard Bernstein and his music & talent.

Don't see it if You're not a music lover.

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy biographical one-man shows, especially if a great musician, Leonard Bernstein, career and life is being explored.

Don't see it if one-man shows aren't your thing. If you don't like classical or Broadway music.

60
Indulgent, Cliched, Too long, Schmaltzy

See it if You want to learn about a fascinating person, Leonard Bernstein, & hear his music adequately played.

Don't see it if You thought those kitschy shows in the Catskills of 40 plus years ago were boring.

95
Absorbing, Delightful, Epic, Masterful, Entertaining

See it if You love music and you are interested in lives of great people

Don't see it if You get bored with one-actor plays; you don't care about music or Bernstein

72
Clever, Disappointing

See it if You love Heshey Felder .

Don't see it if You love Leonard Bernstein

45
Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated, Slow

See it if you like biography shows. This one is about Leonard Bernstein, covering both his career and his personal life.

Don't see it if you have no interest in listening to Bernstein's music. Much of the show is concert with an occasional break to talk about Bernstein's life.

84
Intelligent, Entertaining, Outstanding performance

See it if One man show about the life of Leonard Bernstein written and performed brilliantly by Hershey Feldman. Absolutely fascinating.

Don't see it if If you know nothing and care nothing about Bernstein.

91
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Masterful

See it if you had to overcome life with difficult parents, dreamed of achieving a big life goal or have an interest in music. Fantastic use of stage.

Don't see it if you dislike classical music or Broadway show tunes.

75
Absorbing, Intense, Entertaining, Educational, Imperfect

See it if you like bio-plays. LB's life was fascinating. Good music, good stories. I saw flaws, but didn't care by the end. I was hooked.

Don't see it if you want great acting. Felder wasn't quite up to it: his voice isn't great, his charisma is lacking. Still, I enjoyed all and learned a lot.

79
Clever, Great music, Enjoyable, Light-hearted

See it if you are a Bernstein fan and want a new perspective on the man and his music, or if you'd just like an absorbing evening of music & dialogue

Don't see it if you need a lot of action, thrills or surprises; you dislike small theater; or if an average impression of Bernstein will annoy you

63
Intelligent, Disappointing, Cliched, Slow, Biographical

See it if you enjoy one man shows & are interested in Bernstein. The show is from his eyes - heavy on early life, music theory & people he admired.

Don't see it if If you want more drama, more of his music & less exposition. Last third has some emotional parts that I found moving.

77
Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Indulgent

See it if you enjoy one man shows or want to learn more about the life of Leonard Bernstein, or technical aspects of conducting

Don't see it if you expect a complete portrait of the life of this complex man. Concentrates more on the early days, and is rather selective on its topics

89
Ambitious, Intelligent, Intense, Masterful, Great performance

See it if Masterful performance by Hershey Felder, who channels Leonard Bernstein in an intense, absorbing one man show. Exquisite piano playing.

Don't see it if A unique biographical piece, this show is often dark. You learn about Bernstein the man, but also about his key musical influences.

Also A good share of the musical selections are non-Bernstein pieces - such... Read more Read less

88
Original, Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if You love anything and everything about Leonard Bernstein ! You would enjoy a trip down the special memory lane that is Bernstein !

Don't see it if You don't enjoy one person shows. You are looking for a show with a plot. Bernstein is just a name to you. This is a love letter to his fans

100
Absorbing, Riveting, Entertaining, Touching

See it if You like biographical plays, you are interested in exploring various aspects of Leonard Bernstein's life, you enjoy piano music.

Don't see it if You expect the personification of Leonard Bernstein, you don't like one person plays, you don't enjoy piano music.

85
Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Indulgent, Entertaining

See it if You'd like to learn more about Lenny or want a nostalgia infusion, if you'd like to hear about the composers, conductors who influenced him

Don't see it if If you aren't interested in classical music or in the life of a tortured genius presented with gusto bordering on indulgence.

Also Despite weak points in both the script which spends too much time on h... Read more Read less

85
Absorbing, Masterful, Entertaining

See it if you want to know more about Bernstein. Engaging performance holds interest throughout. Heavy on early life, could have more on later years.

Don't see it if you are not interested in classical music. Don't like one-man shows.

90
Funny, Absorbing, Delightful, Exquisite, Entertaining

See it if you want to learn more about the great composer and conductor Leonard Berstein.

Don't see it if you hate biographical pieces.

80
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent

See it if you are interested in Leonard Bernstein and his work. you like one man shows

Don't see it if you get bored easily with information about someone's life and career

70
Ambitious, Indulgent, Interesting, Superficial, Entertaining

See it if you're interested in learning more about an important figure in late-20th Century classical music in an entertaining, if cursory, way.

Don't see it if you expect a faithful portrayal of Leonard Bernstein. Felder doesn't look or sound much like him, but he gives us a nice biographical sketch

Also This felt more like a showcase for Hershey Felder's impressive talents... Read more Read less

81
Funny, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if A fine evocation of Bernstein and his career by Felder. A bit long but well produced and compelling.

Don't see it if If a musical career or Bernstein is not in your interest.

84
Interesting, Great music, Engaging

See it if you are interested in a well staged and acted story of Leonard Bernstein, including some of his music.

Don't see it if Leonard Berstein does not interest you and you would not enjoy a musicians' life story or music.

90
Absorbing, Clever, Interesting, Entertaining, Biographical

See it if You admire the talent of Leonard Bernstein and want to learn about his life.

Don't see it if You don't care for one man shows and aren't really interested in the lives of famous people.

82
Original, Ambitious, Intelligent, Entertaining, Informative

See it if you love a good story...especially the details of the life and work of a fascinating man and his music.

Don't see it if you don't like music, Jewish biographies, or one-man shows.

78
Indulgent, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if are a Bernstein fan and want to have a fairly painless bio of him. Brought back some wonderful memories.

Don't see it if you HATE bad piano playing. Felder is a good storyteller, but he adds a boogie-woogie hand to Wagner! And his pedal work is atrocious.