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 The Theatreguide.London Review

George Gershwin Alone
Duchess Theatre      February 2004

This solo show by American actor-singer-pianist Hershey Felder is exactly what you could predict - a little piano playing, a little singing, a little biographical information about George Gershwin.

It's as slight a piece as you could imagine, and might really be more at home in a night club or even a university lecture hall than on a West End stage, where its thinness is particularly apparent.

Everything about it is so minimal that Felder runs out of material after little more than an hour, fleshing out his ninety minutes with a playing of the solo piano version of Rhapsody in Blue and then with fifteen minutes of audience sing-along to our favourite Gershwin songs.

As narrator, Felder tells us the bare bones of Gershwin's life story and attempts a couple of times to explain what is so special about his music - 'Anyone else would have put in this note, but he changes keys here like this' - explanations that might make more sense to someone less musically illiterate than I.

As pianist and singer, he has the air and style of a slightly-too-campy hotel bar pianist, the sort who's just a little too insistently ingratiating to let you drink or chat in peace.

The music is wonderful, of course. He's charming enough, in his slightly oily way. And the sing-along is fun if you're in a Butlins sort of mood..

But this is really cruise ship entertainment, not a West End show.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of  George Gershwin Alone - Duchess Theatre 2004