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Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein

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His was a one-man show in the sense that his power and verve eclipsed those around him.

 Yet, the one man he wanted to be eluded him throughout the amazing journey that was his life.

  Leonard Bernstein, conductor, musician, husband, father, lover, teacher, scholar never became as well known or respected for the compositions he wrote and wanted to write. That elusive title and reputation marred his self-image, despite the world fame and fortune his talents brought him.

Sincerely and movingly captured, Bernstein returns to living legend in The Old Globe Theatre’s musical docudrama one-man show, “Hershey Felder in Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein.”

Directed by Joel Zwick, and portrayed with style and substance and gifted play on the concert piano by Hershey Felder, himself no lightweight in the musical talent realm, Bernstein waxes eloquently on the anatomy of compositions, including his most famous 1957 musical “West Side Story” and Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto.”  He wanes, at times almost to schmaltziness, on the compositions of his psyche and intimate relationships.

The latter include an adoration of the father whose approval he desperately sought and the god whose punishments Bernstein embraced as his due. In truth, however, neither father nor god was as preoccupied with the man as the man himself imagined. Yet, the story onstage depends on an intimate rendering of how Bernstein perceived Bernstein. That accomplishment carries the show, as Felder becomes his character, revealing what made him tick as well as the ticks that made him as charming and interesting as any modern musical genius. He was musical director of the New York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969, directing more concerts there than any conductor before him. He taught masters classes at the renown Tanglewood, following in the footsteps of one of his mentors. And, he traveled the world, conducting, teaching and making himself one of the most acclaimed musical personalities of the century.

Bernstein’s brilliance attracted outstanding friends and mentors, including Dimitri Mitropoulos, Serge Koussevitzky and Aaron Copeland, each of whom figures in the story and appears on film, projected much larger than life on Scenic/Lighting/Projection designer Francois-Pierre Couture’s inspired backdrop, an enormous parchment-like manuscript page. These photographic projections add to the veracity and offer visual interest as the biography moves swiftly along.

Caught between his god and his father, Bernstein, the man, vacillated between living a good life and living a selfish one. Because he was human, with the failings and frailties that go along with the species, Bernstein made a few messes of his other intimates, especially in the betrayal of his wife Felicia for an affair with a young man. The affair quickly passed, and Bernstein was back in the family fold. To his credit, he accepted the responsibility and the care of Felicia during her illness with cancer and the last moment it took from her.

Felder captures that moment, first in Bernstein’s declaration that god kept his most ardent wish from him as retribution for his infidelity, but finally, in one, lonely note from the song, “Maria,” like a reminder of his lingering legacy.

The life of Leonard Bernstein, as imparted by Hershey Felder, captures the history, the music, and the person. It is both a chronicle and a tribute.

Hershey Felder in Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein continues on San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre stage in Balboa Park through August 28.

Performances are: Tues-Weds at 7 pm; Thurs-Sat at 8 pm; Sun at 7 pm. Sat & Sun matinees at

2 pm, except Sat, Aug. 20. Additional matinee on Weds, Aug 17 at 2 pm.

Tickets are $39-90, with discounts for full-time students, patrons 29 and younger, seniors and groups of 10 or more.

Reservations: (619) 23-GLOBE or online at www.TheOldGlobe.org

 

Spotlight

Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”

ABOUT ELLEN RICHARD

Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.