Curtain Up — Theater Review by Camille Bounds: ”Hershey Felder, Beethoven:” A close-up look into a musical genius
Published online on June 16, 2017
By Camille Bounds
Hershey Felder, has done it again, giving us an intimate view of one of the greatest musical geniuses of his time with his presentation of the life of Ludwig van Beethoven. Felder wrote, created sets, added outstanding concert pianist, and actor to this amazing production. He completes the 2016-2017 season with TheatreWorks after his marvelous offering of the life of Irving Berlin this past January.
The story is told by a Viennese Doctor Gerhard van Breuning who in his boyhood spent time with and cared for the elderly Beethoven who lived in squalor, dressed in rags and seemed to talk to himself most of the time. Breuning tells of Beethoven’s dismal life , refers to his abusive father, his wretched childhood, losing his mother at 17, with bulling brothers to his unhappy adulthood with the addition of deafness at 26 while writing some of the most beautiful piano pieces that never lacks for attention no matter how many times they are heard. From “Moonlight Sonata,”and “Emperor Concerto” to “The Ninth Symphony” and many more. Add to all this Felder’s moments at the piano that are divine.
His longtime award-nominated director Joel Zwick moves this production with the usual elegance as he has for many of Felder’s other successful shows that includes George Gershwin, Chopin and Leonard Bernstein as well as Broadway productions and movies. Christopher Ash gives us perfect lighting while Erik Carstensen brings in splendid sound.
Hershey Felder’s portrait of Beethoven’s genius is an extraordinary piece of theater. The presentation will not leave you after you depart the theater. Felder’s amazing talent as an actor, pianist and story teller will stay with you long after the lights have dimmed. We can look forward to Felder in the first part of 2018 returning with the regional premiere of “Our Great Tchaikovsky. I can hardly wait.
Camille Bounds is the theatre, arts and travel columnist for The Gilroy life and Morgan Hill life.