BWW Preview: THE HANDS OF LIBERACE at Crest Theatre At Old School Square
The name Liberace might not mean much to those under the age of 40, but the classical pianist influenced icons and stars such as Elvis, CeeLo Green, Elton John, Madonna and Lady Gaga. One of America's premiere virtuoso pianists Philip Fortenberry, who has performed on the Las Vegas Strip and Broadway, will debut his first solo tour in Florida, "The Hands of Liberace." Celebrating the musical genius of Liberace in his concert, Fortenberry will play as well as share stories and insights. "The Hands of Liberace" will be performed in the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center on Feb. 23 and The Crest Theatre at Old School Square on Feb. 24.
The show is inspired by Fortenberry's appearance in HBO Film's "Behind the Candelabra," starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon. Fortenberry was literally the hands for Douglas playing all of the piano music for the film. Fortenberry had played over 300 one-man performances of "Liberace and Me" as an artist-in-residence at the famed Liberace Museum. Producers of the movie were so impressed with his skilled interpretation of Liberace's playing and technique that they sought him out.
It was Liberace who demonstrated that a larger audience can enjoy true musical talent and flamboyance is merely a façade. He changed the landscape of music that younger artists will continue to embrace. While artists such as Katy Perry and Lady Gaga explode during their respective half-time shows during the Big Game, Liberace was the first performer to become bigger than life on stage. He actually accomplished this by playing classical music to a commercial audience including shows in Las Vegas.
"Liberace proved that it was possible for pianists like me to have a career beyond being a classical piano artist," Fortenberry told AXS.com. "While I have toured extensively, performing solo to new audiences in Florida is thrilling for me."
Fortenberry has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, entertained Mikhail Gorbachev and George Bush at the White House and played at the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the United Nations. His Broadway career includes performing in "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Cats," "Rocky," "Ragtime" and "The Lion King." In Las Vegas, Fortenberry was the full time pianist and associate conductor of "Jersey Boys" until its closing in 2016.
A native of Columbia, Mississippi, Fortenberry began playing the piano at age four, became the accompanist for his church at age seven and performed his first solo concert at age 12. He holds a Master of Music degree in classical piano performance from New Jersey City University and was an adjunct faculty member in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University.
The Crest Theatre is an intimate 323-seat, state-of-the-art facility located in the restored 1925 Delray High School building on the Old School Square campus in Delray Beach. Aventura Arts & Cultural Center in Aventura, Florida is a 330-seat theater located in the waterfront complex.
"The Hands of Liberace" starring pianist Philip Fortenberry will perform at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center located at 3385 NE 188th St., Aventura. Showtime is at 8 p.m. on Feb. 23 and can be purchased clicking here. The next performance will be held at Crest Theatre at Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Del Ray Beach. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets can be purchased clicking here. For more information about Fortenberry's upcoming performances around the U.S., and to purchase his solo CDs, visit www.philipfortenberry.com.