Thursday, April 14, 2011

George Gershwin Alone at Pasadena Playhouse

You think you know a man, then you go see his play. The story behind George Gershwin Alone at Pasadena Playhouse was a combination of familiar and new information. Yes, we all recognize "Rhapsody in Blue," (even if it is just from the United Airline commercials) and can hum along to "I Got Rhythm," but, for instance, did you know George died at 38 from a brain tumor?

The teacher to the schooling was Hershey Felder, who portrays George, his parents, Ira and the other siblings, and various collaborators. And not only is Felder acting as George, but he's playing the piano as George. Sometimes playing with one hand while turned away from the piano to speak to the audience. Amazing!

After "the music dies" with George's death, Felder comes back onstage as himself to talk about George. It was fun to hear that after a formal concert, George would race across town to meet his friends to perform informally, sing-along style. We even got a taste of it, as Felder invited audience members to shout out their favorite Gershwin songs. We then sang together to "Embraceable You," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Swanee," and Summertime."

In addition to the great performance, it was great to see the Pasadena Playhouse back up and running. It closed for about a year under Chapter 11. It's a good reminder that we shouldn't assume "the State Theater of California" will always be open for business. Welcome back, Pasadena Playhouse!

Click here to go to Pasadena Playhouse's Web site.

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