Hershey Felder is Chopin in Paris! From the moment we are invited into Fryderyk Chopin‘s Paris salon where he gives music lessons by day and performances at night, we are captivated by Felder’s wonderful performance. We, the audience are given a music lesson in this very intimate setting. It’s as though we are part of the play and thus transported back into time, just days after the February 1848 revolution. Through Felder’s brilliant storytelling, and performing some of Chopin’s most beautiful and enduring music, he reveals the life of Fryderyk Chopin, the Polish composer and pianist who was among the greatest musicians of his age. Felder recalls the story of a child who comes from a very musical family in Warsaw, Poland. When Chopin was just two years old and already drawn to the piano, his mother saw his pure delight and reaction in tapping the piano keys and decided that he must have piano lessons. This very early memory stays with Chopin his entire life.
What I loved about this convincing performance is the ease and natural way that Felder weaves the story of Chopin’s life while talking to the audience as we are his students. The small size of the Lovelace Studio Theater works beautifully to create this intimate environment. He even goes so far as to invite the members of the “class” to ask any questions of Monsieur Chopin, and people respond with curiosity and many questions with good humor. And when Monsieur Chopin replies, he is very matter of fact in answering with heartfelt repartee. The dialogue that happened between students and teacher was whimsical – we were both the audience, and his students – while being part of the performance. This was a brilliant and clever way that Felder engaged us while we enjoyed the show!
Chopin spends 18 years in Paris, and it is within this time period that he meets a woman at one of his salon gatherings, the very celebrated novelist, George Sand, who Chopin simply refers to as Madame. Through their long and often tumultuous relationship, Chopin enjoyed his richest creative period.
Felder is outstanding as Chopin. In addition to being writer, actor and pianist, he also has a moment where he actually sings and his voice is tender and emotive. In all the times I’ve seen him perform, this is the first time I’ve heard him sing. It was magical.
And Felder has also created the scenic design which feels very authentic. Director, Joel Zwick is a frequent collaborator of Felder’s. Through the years the two have collaborated in other intimate portraits of Mozart, Bernstein and Beethoven. And kudos to lighting designer, Erik S. Barry, video design/production management, Erik Carstensen, associate director, Trevor Hay, associate producer, Tammy Globerman, producer/company manager, Samantha F. Voxakis and production consultant, Jeffrey Kallberg, PhD.
What a fun evening! Don’t miss this one!
HERSEY FELDER: “Chopin in Paris” runs through July 24, 2022. The Lovelace Studio Theater is located at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. To purchase tickets and for more information, please call 310-746-4000 (Monday – Friday, 10 am to 6 pm) or visit TheWallis.org/chopin