BWW Preview: THE HANDS OF LIBERACE at Green Valley Recreation West Center
Premiere virtuoso pianist Philip Fortenberry continues his solo tour, "The Hands of Liberace" tour in Arizona. Celebrating the musical genius of Liberace in his concert, Fortenberry will play well-known, loved pieces and share his insights. A performer on Broadway and the Las Vegas Strip, Fortenberry will star in "The Hands of Liberace" in the Green Valley Recreation West Center in Green Valley, Arizona on March 14.
The show is inspired by Fortenberry's appearance in HBO Films' "Behind the Candelabra," starring Michael Douglas as Liberace spanning the 1970s until Liberace's passing in 1987. Fortenberry was literally the hands for Douglas and body double playing all of the piano music for the film. Fortenberry is not an impersonator or tribute artist. He is a classically trained pianist with an extensive career encompassing a wide range of musical genres. On Broadway, Fortenberry performed in "Cats," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "The Lion King," "Ragtime" and "Rocky."" He was also the full-time pianist and associate conductor of "Jersey Boys" on the Las Vegas Strip until the show closed. Fortenberry played over 300 one-man performances of "Liberace and Me" as an artist-in-residence at the famed Liberace Museum.
As for Liberace's influence, Fortenberry told BroadwayWorld.com, "As a child, I was exposed to recordings of Liberace. When I began my residency at the Liberace Museum, I researched his repertoire and discovered that the music he played. This is an opportunity to showcase his skill as well as my own skill as a pianist." One of the many well-known pieces Fortenberry has performed and interpreted is "Malagueña," widely recognized by the audience.
"What Liberace did was bring classical music into a commercial arena," Fortenberry stated about the genius of Liberace. "His technical abilities, the tricks, the scales, the flourishes; he was able to take those elements and incorporate classical music as a more commercial piece. First and foremost, he was a pianist."
A native of Columbia, Mississippi, Fortenberry began playing the piano at age four and became the accompanist for his church at age seven. Fortenberry performed his first solo concert at age 12. He attended William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi before moving to New York City. He continued his piano studies as a private student of Myoko Lotto at The Juilliard School and 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. A resident of Las Vegas now, Fortenberry was the associate conductor for "Hairspray" at the Luxor Theater, "Mamma Mia!" at Mandalay Bay, and the North American premiere of the rock music extravaganza, "We Will Rock You" at Paris Las Vegas.
His skilled interpretation of Liberace's playing and music has brought Fortenberry critical acclaim. He has released eight solo CD releases and continues to tour around the United States.
"I love sharing music," he said. "Playing for the audience is thrilling for me."
"The Hands of Liberace" starring pianist Philip Fortenberry will perform at the Green Valley Recreation West Center located at 1111 GVR Drive, Green Valley, Arizona. Showtime is at 7 p.m. on March 14 and can be purchased by calling 520-625-0288. For more information about Fortenberry's upcoming performances around the U.S., and to purchase his solo CDs, visit www.philipfortenberry.com.