George Gershwin Alone

Previewed 6 February 2004, Opened 17 February 2004, Closed 17 April 2004 at the Duchess Theatre in London

Hershey Felder presents the joy and excitement that is the music of George Gershwin in his 'one-man-show' George Gershwin Alone in London for a strictly limited season.

Hershey Felder brings to life the spirit and talent of the legendary composer and pianist, as he leads us through the fascinating rythmns of Gershwin's music and tragically short life - Hear the music: meet the man - George Gershwin Alone.

George Gershwin Alone is devised and performed by Hershey Felder with music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin and is directed for the stage by Joel Zwick. This production comes to London's West End following a 12 week season on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre in 2001.

The Gershwin's musicals include Lady, Be Good!, Crazy For You, An American in Paris and Porgy and Bess.

Hershey Felder said: "It is dangerous to call it just entertainment. I wanted to go about this so that it has historical value - to justify doing something like this. I mean, it' not a lecture, but I wanted to make sure that the audience could learn something as well as enjoy the fun stuff. My research revealed a man who wanted to be taken seriously, in the manner in which we take Beethoven and Mozart seriously. His quest was to create a great work of art and he thought he died before doing that, but it turns out he didn't... What struck me as being extremely moving, as I read more about him, is how scathing and vicious some original reviews were about his opera, Porgy and Bess. It was beyond reason - especially as it is now accepted as one of the greatest contemporary operas in the world."

"Just as Gershwin tried to synthesise jazz, Tin Pan Alley and European classical styles, so Felder tries to fuse various forms in this bitty show... Music was such an all-consuming passion for Gershwin , Hershey Felder contends, that people, relationships, and here even Ira's marvellous lyrics, took second place to it. But the show never delves into his formative influences - pat jokes about his overbearing Jewish mother and weak father make you wish that the script was more Philip Roth and less Danny Kaye. Instead, Felder offers a ten-minute version of Rhapsody in Blue as a rousing finale to this superficial but heartfelt Valentine to Gershwin, after which we're invited to have a brief singalong. This could have been truly cringe-making, but by the time we were singing Summertime, Gershwin's tunes had worked their magic again. Perhaps the songs can speak for themselves." The Times

"This is the first portrayal that the Gershwin Estates has allowed, and it shows. Any potentially tricky issues, such as Gershwin's reputed womanising, are glossed over in favour of the motif repeated in a major key crescendo; that as a serious composer, he was unfairly overlooked by the critics... Under director Joel Zwick this production has played on Broadway. Nevertheless, it remains slightly more than competent yet a long way short of exciting. Gershwin deserves better." The London Evening Standard

"There are amiable anecdotes about Gershwin's parents, about his radio show and about the throes of composition: we get to hear the amusing dummy lyric that he and his brother Ira used while hammering out the words for I Got Rhythm. Mostly, though, the narration is an excuse for the music. Felder sings, pleasantly enough, some of the best-known songs. He plays the piano version of Rhapsody in Blue, with a mirror above angled so that we can look down on the keyboard. As a portrait of Gershwin, the show is cosy and superficial... if you're not expecting more than an extended cabaret turn, it passes the time agreeably." The Sunday Telegraph

George Gershwin Alone in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 6 February 2004, opened on 17 February 2004 and closed on 17 April 2004.