Berkeley Rep to Present HERSHEY FELDER AS LEONARD BERNSTEIN IN MAESTRO, 6/6-22

Berkeley Rep to Present HERSHEY FELDER AS LEONARD BERNSTEIN IN MAESTRO, 6/6-22

This June award-winning actor and musician Hershey Felder returns to Berkeley Rep with his popular and critically acclaimed one-man show, Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro. Last summer, Felder brought Bay Area audiences to their feet and even got them singing with George Gershwin Alone. Now the master entertainer and virtuoso pianist is back for a limited engagement about America's greatest musical legend. Conductor, composer, pianist, author, teacher, librettist, television star, and composer of West Side Story, Candide, On the Town, and Wonderful Town, Bernstein pushed all boundaries to become the world's first serious musical media superstar. Felder combines first-person narrative with the compositions of Bernstein and others to draw us deeply into the maestro's fascinating life, a life filled with tragedy and triumph and...music. This special presentation plays only 22 performances on the intimate Thrust Stage. It previews on June 5, opens June 6, and plays through June 22.

"Hershey is a great musical talent," says Tony Taccone, Berkeley Rep's Michael Leibert Artistic Director. "He is a consummate master of bringing musical geniuses to life. He thrilled audiences in his performance of George Gershwin Alone last summer, and in the fall he directed Mona Golabek in the well-received production, The Pianist of Willesden Lane. We're thrilled to have him back for a delightfully entertaining show."

"I'm elated to be returning to Berkeley Rep to share Bernstein's story with its audience," remarks Felder. "What fascinates me most about Bernstein is that he was drawn to both classical and popular work just as I am. But there were never any barriers for him - ever - and that was true of every aspect of his life. I can't wait to take audiences on an extraordinary journey through Bernstein's life and career."

Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro has played at theatres across the country and has critics singing its praises. "It takes a certain chutzpah and considerable talent to impersonate this uniquely charismatic and supremely talented Bernstein," proclaims the Los Angeles Times. "And Lenny liked nothing better than chutzpah combined with talent." "From the first piano notes and hauntingly beautiful singing in his one-man bio show, writer-performer Hershey Felder grips the audience in the palm of his hand and never lets go," hails the LA Weekly. And the San Diego Union-Tribune adds, "Like Bernstein, Felder seems to thrive on the impulse to instruct and illuminate. He's a masterful pianist with a showman's sense of drama and dynamics... It's a pleasure to watch." "Felder uncannily captures the brilliant, effusive, mercurial, overbearing, exuberantly needy, tortured, multi-talented Bernstein to perfection," proclaims the Chicago Sun-Times. "You will walk out of the theater realizing you've barely breathed for the duration of this astonishing musical and theatrical transmigration of souls."

Hershey Felder (Leonard Bernstein/Playwright) created and performed George Gershwin Alone, which played at Berkeley Rep, on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre, at West End's Duchess Theatre, and in a worldwide live broadcast. His Composers Sonata - George Gershwin Alone; Monsieur Chopin; Beethoven, As I Knew Him; Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro; and Hershey Felder as Franz Liszt in Rock Star - has been presented at dozens of theatres across the U.S. and around the world, including a command performance of Monsieur Chopin for the Polish Ambassador to the United States. His compositions include Aliyah, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Fairytale, a musical; Les Anges de Paris, Suite for Violin and Piano; Song Settings; Saltimbanques for Piano and Orchestra; Etudes Thematiques for Piano; An American Story for Actor and Orchestra. As director, he premiered Mona Golabek in The Pianist of Willesden Lane at the Geffen Playhouse in April 2012 and at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in October 2013. The acclaimed production will make its off-Broadway debut at 59E59 Theaters this summer. Felder has been a scholar-in-residence at Harvard University's department of music and is married to Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada.

Joel Zwick (Director) directed My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Zwick is recognized as one of Hollywood's most prolific directors of episodic television, having the direction of 525 episodes to his credit. These include having directed 21 pilots which have gone on to become regular series. He directed the Broadway production of George Gershwin Alone as well as all subsequent productions. Previous New York productions have included Dance with Me (Tony nomination), Shenandoah (Broadway national tour), Oklahoma (national tour), and Cold Storage (American Place Theater). He directed Esther (Promenade Theater, NY), Merry-Go-Round (Chicago, Las Vegas), Last Chance Saloon, and Woycek (West End, London). Zwick has taught drama at the Yale School of Drama, Brooklyn College, Queens College, Wheaton College, and University of Southern California. A graduate (BA, MA) of Brooklyn College, he is currently directing Shake It Up for the Disney Channel.

The producer of Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro is Eighty-Eight Entertainment. Created in 2001 by Hershey Felder, Eighty-Eight Entertainment is devoted to the creation of new works of musical theatre. Current projects include the new musicals Abe Lincoln's Piano and Hershey Felder as Franz Liszt in Rock Star. Its recordings include Love Songs of the Yiddish Theatre; Back from Broadway; George Gershwin Alone; Monsieur Chopin; Beethoven, As I Knew Him; and An American Story for Actor and Orchestra.

Four designers will lend their talents to mount this musically infused production on the intimate Thrust Stage: François-Pierre Couture (scenic design, lighting co-design, and projection co-design), Christopher Rynne (lighting co-design), Erik Carstensen (sound design), and Andrew Wilder (projection co-design). Trevor Hay and Eric Carstensen serve as stage managers.

The 2013-14 season is supported by BART and Wells Fargo, who have generously renewed their commitment as Berkeley Rep's official season sponsors. Berkeley Rep is also proud to have the San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate as a second-year season sponsor and the Strauch Kulhanjian Family on board as season producer.

Tickets start at only $29 - half that for anyone under 30 years of age. Additional savings are available for groups, seniors, and students - meaning discounted seats can be obtained for as little as $14.50. The Thrust Stage is located at 2025 Addison Street, near bus lines, bike routes, and parking lots - and only half a block from BART. For tickets or information, call (510) 647-2949 or simply click berkeleyrep.org.

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