Following the success of Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin: Live from Florence, a live streaming event in May from Felder’s residence in Florence, Italy, which raised significant funds for 13 US theatres and arts organizations, actor, playwright and pianist Hershey Felder has created a new arts broadcasting company, Hershey Felder Presents – Live from Florence. The collaboration unites Felder with Florentine cinema group Montagni Audiovisivi, the internationally recognized English language magazine The Florentine, and American broadcaster Rich Flier, to produce high quality streaming arts programming for international audiences, both for the period while theatres remain closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, and beyond.
This new arts broadcasting company will next present Hershey Felder: Beethoven. The live streaming event features the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, text by Felder, and is based on the original stage play direction by Joel Zwick. It will stream at 5 pm PST, 7 pm CST and 8 pm EST on Sunday, July 12, 2020. As with Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin, this production will benefit national US theatres and arts organizations. Felder will also donate a portion of the proceeds to the Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, MN., to support the work of Black theatre artists.
In the tradition of his popular after-performance audience ‘encore,’ Felder has created the Hershey Felder Presents Arts Prize Competition, in honor of Beethoven’s 250th birth year. This prize of $25,000 (twenty-five thousand dollars) will be awarded to one of five artist finalists submitting “anything Beethoven” as inspiration for their video presentation. The five finalists will be presented at the completion of Hershey Felder: Beethoven. Viewers will be eligible to vote, with the winner announced one hour after the completion of voting. All competition information is available here: https://www.hersheyfelder.net/contest-page
Hershey Felder: Beethoven is based on Memories of Beethoven: Out of the House of Black-Robed Spaniards, a first-hand account by Dr. Gerhard von Breuning. (‘Schwarzspanierhaus,’ or House of Black-Robed Spaniards, was the name of Beethoven’s final residence in Vienna, Austria, where he died in 1827). Felder brings Beethoven to life through the eyes of Viennese doctor Breuning, who spent his boyhood by the aging Maestro's side.
The one-man musical play features some of the composer’s most well-known compositions from his keyboard works such as the “Emperor Concerto” to the 5th and 9th Symphonies, his keyboard sonatas, and chamber music selections. Hershey Felder: Beethoven is produced by Samantha F. Voxakis, Karen Racanelli and Erik Carstensen.
Critically lauded in its world premiere at TheaterWorks Silicon Valley in 2017, the San Jose Mercury News called Hershey Felder: Beethoven a “towering performance about a towering composer.” Significantly, BroadwayWorld reported that Hershey Felder: Beethoven shattered box office records at TheatreWorks, establishing a new record for the 48-year-old company, which has since been maintained. Following the world premiere, the production then broke records at the San Diego Rep (the highest grossing production in its 40-year history), and was the highest grossing production at the Wallis Annenberg in Los Angeles, The Laguna Playhouse and the Leo K. Theatre at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Felder attributes this success to the tremendous popularity of the world’s greatest composer.
Director Joel Zwick has previously collaborated with Felder on George Gershwin Alone, Monsieur Chopin and Maestro Bernstein. Zwick is recognized as one of Hollywood’s most prolific directors of episodic television and has directed on Broadway, Off-Broadway and for Broadway touring companies as well as directing the highest-grossing film comedy of all time My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Associate Director is Trevor Hay.
Scenic design is by Hershey Felder. Costume design is from Theatr’ Hall, Paris. Film production is by Montagni Audiovisivi. Live editing is by Stefano DeCarli. Live broadcast by Rich Flier. Sound design and production are by co-Producer Erik Carstensen.
Tickets ($55 per household) are available for purchase at the following link:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hershey-felder-beethoven-live-from-florence-italy-tickets-105893181356. Patrons will receive a link and password which will enable them to view the live stream.
For more information, visit www.hersheyfelder.net.
About Hershey Felder:
Named to Time Magazine’s 2016 Top 10 Plays and Musicals, Hershey Felder has played over 6,000 performances of his self-created solo productions at some of the world’s most prestigious theatres and has broken box office records consistently. American Theatre Magazine has said, “Hershey Felder is in a category all his own.” His shows include: George Gershwin Alone (Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre, West End’s Duchess Theatre); Monsieur Chopin; Beethoven; Maestro (Leonard Bernstein); Franz Liszt in Musik, Lincoln: An American Story, Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin, Our Great Tchaikovsky, and A Paris Love Story. His compositions and recordings include Aliyah, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Fairytale, a musical; Les Anges de Paris, Suite for Violin and Piano; Song Settings; Saltimbanques for Piano and Orchestra; Etudes Thematiques for Piano; and An American Story for Actor and Orchestra. Hershey is the adaptor, director and designer for the internationally performed play-with-music The Pianist of Willesden Lane with Steinway artist Mona Golabek; producer and designer for the musical Louis and Keely: ‘Live’ at the Sahara, directed by Taylor Hackford; and writer and director for Flying Solo, featuring opera legend Nathan Gunn. Upcoming projects include Anna and Sergei, a new play featuring the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff, as well as a new musical based on the award-winning book Out on a Ledge by Eva Libitzky. Hershey has operated a full-service production company since 2001. He has been a scholar-in-residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music and is married to Kim Campbell, the first female Prime Minister of Canada.