Before attending Hershey Felder As Irving Berlin, I knew very little about Mr. Berlin. And by very little, I mean I knew I really enjoyed a handful of his songs…”White Christmas” has been my top favorite Christmas song since I could carol. After the 1 hour and 45 minute performance (sans intermission), however, I felt that Berlin and I had shared something special. He had invited me into his home, introduced me to his wife and children, and shared both his proudest and most heart breaking moments with me. To be perfectly honest, it was such an intimate experience that I was in tears by the time I left the theater (but, like, happy tears!) Talk about a piece of theater that tugs at the heart strings.
Throughout the one man show, we learn the journey Berlin went on, from being an immigrant to becoming one of our country’s most beloved songwriters. Most of the journey takes place right here in New York City, starting on the Lower East Side, working its way up to the Upper West Side, and finishing up smack in the heart of Midtown at Carnegie Hall. A few of the titles you’ll get to appreciate (and sometimes even sing along with) throughout the performance are “Always,” “Blue Skies,” “God Bless America,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” He explains what his motivation was to write each and every song–which is what I would imagine it to be like if you were to go to MOMA and have a live conversation with Monet about the motivation behind his work. The conversation takes something that is otherwise just pleasant to listen to/look at, and turns it into a powerful human connection, with so much deeper meaning.
The show is playing at 59E59 Theater until October 28th, 2018. Tickets are $70, however I’d suggest clicking around on discount sites to see if you can score a deal (I used Goldstar and got $35 tickets.) There’s a lovely little bar on the second floor of the venue, but it’s worth noting that you can not bring drinks into the theater (the only bummer of the night!), so either arrive early enough to enjoy them upstairs or be forced to chug!
If you have a soft spot for Berlin’s music, I truly can’t recommend this sweet little show enough. You’ll never listen to “White Christmas” without getting teary eyed again.