Review: “Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro”

Posted on: August 25, 2016

In Friday’s (8/19) Los Angeles Times, Margaret Gray reviews Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, a play running through August 28 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. “Leonard Bernstein is on the video screen, lecturing on the art of conducting while the audience files in…. I felt a twinge of disappointment when the house lights dimmed and the human-sized Felder replaced the black-and-white digital colossus onstage…. Assuming the role of a great artist is an act of reverence, of selfless dedication to keeping a legacy alive. At the same time, it’s kind of audacious—especially when some people in the audience experienced the original…. But my skepticism … was only softening me up for the kill. Later in the show, as Felder plays the ‘Liebestod’ from Wagner’s ‘Tristan and Isolde,’ a clip of Bernstein playing the same piece appears on the backdrop behind him. Except for the disparity in their sizes, the two performers … are indistinguishable…. It’s the sort of moment that can resuscitate the most moribund faith in live theater.” Since its debut in 2010, Gray reports, the show, written by Felder and directed by Joel Zwick, has been performed more than 600 times, and will move on to New York following its Beverly Hills run.  

Posted August 25, 2016