Maestro
83

Maestro NYC Reviews and Tickets

83%
(70 Reviews)
Positive
87%
Mixed
12%
Negative
1%
Members say
Entertaining, Absorbing, Masterful, Great acting, Intelligent

About the Show

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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Member Reviews (70)

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75
Absorbing, Educational, Entertaining, Intense, 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.

70
Entertaining, Interesting, Ambitious, Indulgent, Superficial

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 Read more

Critic Reviews (27)

The New York Times
September 12th, 2016

"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."
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Theatermania
September 11th, 2016

"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."
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BroadwayWorld
September 12th, 2016

"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."
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BroadwayWorld
September 21st, 2016

“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."
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Lighting & Sound America
September 14th, 2016

"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."
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Talkin' Broadway
September 11th, 2016

"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."
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TheaterScene.net
September 16th, 2016

"'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."
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Theatre is Easy
September 12th, 2016

"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."
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Theater Pizzazz
September 11th, 2016

"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."
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CurtainUp
September 17th, 2016

"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."
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T
September 23rd, 2016

“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."
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Broadway Blog
September 12th, 2016

“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.”
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Times Square Chronicles
September 12th, 2016

"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."
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B
September 11th, 2016

"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."
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W
September 12th, 2016

"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."
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Epoch Times
September 20th, 2016

"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."
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T
September 12th, 2016

"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."
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Let's Talk Off-Broadway
September 17th, 2016

"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."
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M
September 14th, 2016

"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."
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Off Off Online
September 19th, 2016

"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."
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Plays to See
September 12th, 2016

"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."
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Los Angeles Times
November 11th, 2010
For a previous production

"'Maestro' is plenty slick but also expert. Felder is at home at the piano belting out Bernstein in over-the-top Broadway style. He did not particularly remind me of Bernstein explaining music or performing...But the subject matter remained riveting. Felder can be funny, and gets big laughs...It takes a certain chutzpah and considerable talent to impersonate this uniquely charismatic and supremely talented Bernstein."
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Chicago Theatre Review
November 11th, 2011
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."
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S
June 8th, 2014
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."
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San Diego Union-Tribune
August 3rd, 2011
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."
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Stark Insider
June 9th, 2014
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."
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The Huffington Post
August 10th, 2014
For a previous production

"It's easy to carp about what’s not there. I’d rather celebrate what is there...A tour de force that fuses speech, song and pianistic brilliance into a captivating vignette of one of the towering figures of 20th century American music. It’s also hilarious at times, and awe-inspiring in Felder’s unfolding of a compelling narrative while hitting every note of a varied, complex and difficult score...Felder handles the story’s many moods with grace and versatility."
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