Beethoven, As I Knew Him: The Music of Ludwig van Beethoven
Writer-performer Hershey Felder is the Liberace of the 21st century and a better pianist, too. This is not entirely a compliment, despite Felders expert storytelling skills, his pristine instincts for timing and his irrepressible love for the classical composers he impersonates in whats become a cottage industry of his monodramas with music. Here, he takes on Ludwig van B., through the prism of Beethovens last known friend and biographer, Gerhard von Breuning of Vienna. Erik Carstensens sound design brings the clean, digital sounds of a full orchestra in support of Felder while hes seated center stage at the stool of a baby grand, plunking out one of the great piano concertos. Theres a divan stage left, draped in a twinkling cloth cover, and you think as Felder rapturously hums from Beethovens musical treatment of Schillers poem, Ode to Joy gads, this isnt 19th-century Vienna, this is 21st-century Las Vegas. The show is a compendium of fascinating biographical details, smartly told homing in on the personal agony of a man whose creation of music is his lifes centerpiece, slowly losing the ability to hear. If you know anything at all about Beethovens life, Felders show isnt going to add to your knowledge. In fact, the audience aahhed and oohed in recognition of facts and melodies that Felder uses to punctuate the biography. Theres more recognition here than surprise, which makes Felders homage more comfortable than probing.
Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: Aug. 19. Continues through Sept. 28, 2008
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