Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin | Royal George Theatre Center | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin Closing (Theater and Galleries) Member Picks The Short List (Theater) Image

When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 22 2016

Irving Berlin has always struck me as the classic striver: An essentially oafish composer and lyricist who succeeded by combining sentiment, optimism, and superhuman productivity with an uncanny nose for the zeitgeist. Hershey Felder's one-man show hasn't changed that view. "God Bless America" sounds no better to me now than before I saw Felder embody the man who wrote it, narrating his shtetl-to-Hollywood life story and performing fluent renditions of many of his songs. Not that Felder doesn't put a good face on his subject. Berlin's seemingly boundless will to ingratiate is spun here as patriotic populism, his career-long musical ignorance as an endearing naivete. The worst you can say about this Berlin is that he's got a cornball singing style. Still, there's a best you can say, too: Listening to the songs more or less chronologically made me realize how well Berlin absorbed and assimilated lessons from truly talented peers. Going from "Alexander's Ragtime Band" to "Blue Skies" is no mean feat. —Tony Adler

Price: $30-$60

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