“Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story” Extended at the Wallis

By Ernest Kearney  —  Hershey Felder began doing his solo shows based on the lives of great composers some twenty-five years ago at the old Tiffany Theatre on Sunset Boulevard.  This fact is missing from his resume to avoid having to deal with the East Coast hubris of both drama critics and the ticket buying Manhatteners who tend to have a rather vicious prejudice against shows originating in Los Angeles.

Though, unbeknownst to them, so very many do.

Felder who has performed as Gershwin, Chopin and Beethoven now returns to L.A. with Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story, playing through June 16 The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.

It is the story of 19-year-old Felder’s first trip to Paris told from the perspective of his favorite composer Achille-Claude Debussy (August 22, 1862 – March 25, 1918).

The love object of the title is a triptych affair: the city of Paris, the music of Debussy, and Felder’s own mother who died tragically young at 35 when Felder was barely a teen.

In seeing himself as a young man wandering the nocturnal Parisian streets through the eyes of the long dead composer, Felder evokes a fittingly dream-like state; fittingly, because Debussy described music as “a dream from which the veils have been lifted.”

Felder attains a pentimento-like effect as the old French composer’s life fades to reveal that of the young American pianist, all the while punctuated by Debussy’s wraithlike melodies such as Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Clair de lune.

Felder achieves beautiful moments, and the sincerity of the work is nothing other than staggering.

If fault can be found it is in Debussy’s consistency of composition which offers little in the way of variety.  Felder’s masterful playing of Debussy’s pieces more than compensates for the lack of range in the works, once again managing to humanize the artist while celebrating his harmonies in a fashion that inspires and enthralls any audience.

 

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Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story

Featuring the Music of Claude Debussy

Written and Performed by Hershey Felder

Directed by Trevor Hay

Production Extended through Sunday, June 16

Due to Popular Demand

at the

Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts

Dates:

Friday, May 24 – Sunday, June 16, 2019

Weekdays, 7:30 pm; Saturdays, 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sundays, 2 pm and 7 pm

Extension Performances:

Thursday June 13, 7:30 pm;

Friday, June 14, 7:30 pm

Saturday, June 15, 2 pm

Saturday, June 15, 7:30 pm

Sunday, June 16, 2 pm

Venue:

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Bram Goldsmith Theater

9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd.

Beverly Hills, CA 90210

 

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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest’s stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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