Irving Berlin left an indelible mark on the classic American songbook with hits like “White Christmas,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “God Bless America.” Arizona Theatre Company will bring Berlin’s story to life in “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin,” which opens ATC’s 2015-16 season.
From the depths of Czarist Russia — where he was born Israel Isidore Baline, the son of a cantor — to New York’s Lower East Side and ultimately to global fame as the quintessential American songwriter, Berlin’s story epitomizes the American dream. Felder, himself a composer, has previously displayed his talents as a performer, storyteller and concert pianist on the ATC stage in “Beethoven as I Knew Him,” “George Gershwin Alone,” and “Monsieur Chopin.”
“That indefatigable purveyor of composers Felder now applies his singular blend of musical biography, character study and piano virtuosity toward the iconic songwriter about whom Jerome Kern famously said, ‘Irving Berlin has no place in American music — he is American music,’” wrote the Los Angeles Times.
“Our audiences in Arizona have a love affair with Hershey, and he assures me the feelings are mutual,” said ATC Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein. “When Hershey told me he was creating a new show about one of my favorite composers, I rushed to see the premiere engagement and immediately told Hershey we must have him back in Tucson and Phoenix. ‘Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin’ is a master entertainer at the top of his game.”
In a special sing-along performance at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3, Felder will engage the audience to join him in singing some of Berlin’s most memorable tunes.
Previews of “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin” begin on Sunday, Sept. 16, with the opening night on Sept. 18. For ticket information, call 622-2823 or visit arizonatheatre.org.