Hershey Felder plans multifaceted season for Royal George
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Hershey Felder, that master of all theatrical trades (actor, director, pianist, composer, writer, designer, producer), has demonstrated his ability to bring life to the often moribund mainstage of the Royal George Theatre many times over the years.
Sometimes Felder himself has been center stage (most notably in the long-running “George Gershwin Alone” and other one-man shows about Frederic Chopin and Leonard Bernstein). At other times he has showcased others, as with Mona Golabek’s ‘The Pianist of Willesden Lane” and Taylor Hackford’s “Louis & Keely ‘Live’ at the Sahara.”
Now, Felder has programmed a complete season of eclectic works for the Royal George.
“Chicago has long been a theatrical home for me,” said Felder in a prepared statement. “My experience since arriving in Chicago with “George Gershwin Alone” in 2004, and continuing with many other productions, is that Chicago audiences are the savviest and warmest in the country. Now I am excited to bring these new productions which I have admired and been involved with to the city.”
Here is a closer look at Felder’s four shows:
• “JAMAICA, FAREWELL” (Sept. 8-Oct. 11), written and performed by Debra Ehrhardt, and directed by Joel Zwick. Based on her true life story, Ehrhardt’s one-woman show chronicles her escape from the revolution-torn island of Jamaica to fulfill her lifelong dream of coming to America. When she was an 18-year-old secretary in Kingston, Jamaica, “she and her passion for America bumped into a handsome CIA agent on her lunch break,” the promo blurb says. When she agreed to smuggle $1 million in cash to a mysterious contact in Miami, the agent became her unwitting accomplice. Tickets: $50
• “I FOUND MY HORN” (Oct. 30-Dec. 6), written by Jasper Rees and Jonathan Guy Lewis, and starring Lewis under the direction of Harry Burton. Based on British journalist Rees’ autobiographical book “A Devil to Play,” this one-man show is both a wildly funny and deeply touching musical look at a man encountering a mid-life crisis. Waking up at the age of 40 to a broken marriage and a studio apartment, a man climbs to his attic to clean out his things at the request of his soon-to-be ex-wife. It is there that he finds the French horn he abandoned 25 years earlier. He then sets himself an impossible task: To play a Mozart Horn Concerto in front of a paying audience of horn fanatics. Tickets: $55
• “BARITONES UNBOUND” (Dec. 11, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016), written by Marc Kudisch, Merwin Foard, Jeff Mattsey, and Timothy Splain, directed by David Dower and featuring Mark Delavan, Nathan Gunn and Kudisch. The show promises to explore “the uncommon voice of the common man.” Starting in 1791 with the first major baritone role — Papageno in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”—- the show’s three “baritone guides” evoke each musical period and raise the stature of the baritone by making him hero, anti-hero and ultimately the romantic voice of the common man. Tickets: $60. (New Year’s Eve performance, $150, includes a champagne and dessert reception with the artists.)
• “HERSHEY FELDER AS IRVING BERLIN”: (April 7-May 22, 2016), written and performed by Felder and directed by Trevor Hay. Felder brings to life the remarkable story of Irving Berlin. From the depths of anti-Semitism in Czarist Russia, to New York’s Lower East Side, and ultimately to all of America and the world, Berlin’s story epitomizes capturing the American dream.
Tickets for all four productions are now on sale at the Royal George Theatre box office, 1641 N. Halsted. Call (312) 988 -9000 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.
Note: Special package pricing for multiple productions is available through the Royal George box office.