Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro

Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro

Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro

Book by Hershey Felder
Music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and others
Directed by Joel Zwick
Special Presentation · Thrust Stage
June 5–July 3, 2014

Running time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, no intermission

Last summer, Hershey Felder brought Bay Area audiences to their feet and even got them singing with George Gershwin Alone. Now the master entertainer and virtuoso pianist is back with his popular and critically acclaimed Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, in which he brings one of America’s greatest musical legends to life. Conductor, composer, pianist, author, teacher, librettist, television star, and composer of West Side Story, Candide, On the Town, and Wonderful Town, Bernstein pushed all boundaries to become the world’s first serious musical media superstar. Felder combines first-person narrative with the compositions of Bernstein and others to draw us deeply into the maestro’s fascinating life, a life filled with tragedy and triumph…and music.

Berkeley Rep offers an advisory about any stage effect of potential concern to patrons’ health. This show has none. We don’t offer advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any concerns about content, please contact the box office.

Media sponsor


Production sponsor

Koret Foundation

Season sponsors

BARTSan Francisco Chronicle / SFGate.comWells Fargo

Maestro calendar

Cast and creative team

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Hershey Felder · Performer / Playwright

Hershey FelderHershey Felder performed George Gershwin Alone on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre and on the West End at Duchess Theatre. His Composers Sonata (1999–2014)—George Gershwin Alone; Monsieur Chopin; Beethoven, As I Knew Him; Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro; and Hershey Felder as Franz Liszt in Musik—has been presented at dozens of theatres across the U.S. and around the world, including a command performance of Monsieur Chopin for the Polish Ambassador to the United States. He received Los Angeles Ovation Awards for Best Musical and Best Actor for George Gershwin Alone in 2007, and live broadcasts of the production have been aired worldwide. His compositions 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. As director, Mr. Felder premiered Mona Golabek in The Pianist of Willesden Lane at the Geffen Playhouse in April 2012 and recently premiered Chris Lemmon in Jack Lemmon Returns. Mr. Felder has been a scholar in residence at Harvard University’s department of music and is married to Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada.

(Photo by Michael Lamont)

Joel Zwick · Director

Joel Zwick directed My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Mr. Zwick is recognized as one of Hollywood’s most prolific directors of episodic television, having the direction of 525 episodes to his credit. These include having directed 21 pilots which have gone on to become regular series. He directed the Broadway production of George Gershwin Alone. His previous New York productions have included Dance With Me (Tony nomination), Shenandoah (Broadway national tour), Oklahoma (national tour), and Cold Storage (the American Place Theatre). He directed Esther (Promenade Theatre, NY), Merry-Go-Round (Chicago, Las Vegas), Last Chance Saloon and Woyzeck (West End, London). Mr. Zwick has taught drama at the Yale School of Drama, Brooklyn College, Queens College, Wheaton College, and USC. A graduate (BA, MA) of Brooklyn College, he is currently directing Shake It Up for the Disney Channel.

Trevor Hay · Associate Director

Trevor Hay directed the world premieres of An American Story for Actor and Orchestra, Abe Lincoln’s Piano, and Hershey Felder as Franz Liszt in Musik. He is the associate director for Mona Golabek’s The Pianist of Willesden Lane and a former member of the historic Old Globe Theatre in San Diego where, at the age of 9, his first position was selling Old Globe memorabilia. Over the next 32 years, Mr. Hay went on to various aspects of production on more than 80 presentations, including the Broadway productions of Jack O’Brien’s Damn Yankees, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Twyla Tharpe’s The Times They Are A-Changin’. Included in his 23 seasons at the Old Globe were 11 seasons of the Summer Shakespeare Festival Repertory, as well work on Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, directed by Sam Gold, and Hershey Felder’s George Gershwin Alone, Monsieur Chopin, and Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro.

François-Pierre Couture · Scenic Design / Lighting Co-Design / Projection Co-Design

François-Pierre moved from Montréal to UCLA to complete his master’s degree in scenic and lighting design in 2006. He then designed the scenery and lighting for the critically acclaimed production of Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Actors’ Gang. He was nominated for an Ovation Award for his scenic design of A Picasso at the Geffen Playhouse, and received the 2010 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for sustained achievement in set design, a Garland Award for the scenery of The Quality of Life at the Geffen, and was nominated for a 2010 LA Weekly Award for best scenic design for Stranger. For complete information, please visit fpcouture.com.

Christopher Rynne · Lighting Co-Design

This marks Chris’ fourth collaboration with Hershey Felder. His other productions with Mr. Felder include Abe Lincoln’s Piano, The Pianist of Willesden Lane, and Hershey Felder as Franz Liszt in Musik. His other theatre and opera lighting credits include designs for the Old Globe, San Diego Opera, South Coast Rep, Houston Grand Opera, San Diego Rep, Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Theatre, Michigan Opera Theatre, Madison Opera, Cygnet Theatre, North Coast Repertory Theatre, and San Diego Musical Theatre. Chris also designs lighting for museum exhibitions, special events, and lighting systems for new venues.

Andrew Wilder · Projection Co-Design

Andrew’s experience in lighting design, web design, and photography has led him to the world of projection design, and he is thrilled to be working with the Eighty-Eight Entertainment team once again. Andrew designs websites and consults on internet strategy at BlogTutor.com, writes about being a “healthy foodie” at EatingRules.com,and is the founder of HealthyAds.com, an online advertising network focused on health through food and fitness. He leads the annual October Unprocessed challenge, which most recently helped more than 15,000 people become healthier by avoiding processed food for the entire month. The challenge has been featured by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Food Inc., and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, among others. He is also the founder of International Kale Day, which is celebrated every year on October 10.

Margaret Hartmann · Lighting Director

Margaret is a Chicago-based lighting designer. A member of Plasticene Theatre Company and Big Picture Group, she has designed at the Royal George Theatre, Provision Theater, Chicago Hip Hop Festival, Bailiwick Theater, and Circa Theatre Company. She has also associate-designed for Milwaukee Repertory Theater and assisted designers at the Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Margaret is the co-founder of the Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm, a community-driven open space and artistic vision in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood where neighbors work together to give back.

Erik Carstensen · Sound Design / Production Manager

Erik is the sound designer on Jack Lemmon Returns; Abe Lincoln’s Piano; Hershey Felder as Franz Liszt in Musik; An American Story for Actor and Orchestra; The Pianist of Willesden Lane (2012 Ovation Award nomination); Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro; and Beethoven, As I Knew Him (2009 Ovation Award, Large Theater Sound Design). He was the producer/production manager on Jack Lemmon Returns, The Pianist of Willesden Lane, Hershey Felder as Franz Liszt in Musik, and Abe Lincoln’s Piano. Erik was the master sound technician at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego from 1997 to 2012. He was also the production engineer on over 60 productions, including Allegiance, Robin and the Seven Hoods, A Catered Affair, Hershey Felder’s George Gershwin Alone, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Full Monty, Dirty Blonde, and Floyd Collins. Erik is a member of IATSE Local 122.

Jeffrey Kallberg · Musical History Production Consultant

Jeffrey Kallberg, PhD is a specialist in music of the 19th and 20th centuries, editorial theory, critical theory, and gender studies. He has published widely on the music and cultural contexts of Chopin, most notably in his book Chopin at the Boundaries: Sex, History, and Musical Genre. A professor of music history and associate dean of arts and letters at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Kallberg’s current projects include a book on Chopin’s nocturnes and general editorship of New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism.

“Plaintively framed by the song “Somewhere,” Maestro is a portrait of the successful artist who regards himself as a failure…[Felder] picks up the rhythms and inflections of a somewhat older Bernstein so smoothly that he has the audience in the palm of his hand…[and] keeps us there with a blend of biography, humor, piano virtuosity, pathos and musical appreciation…There are rich, deftly performed and resonant passages of great music—by Bernstein, Beethoven, Wagner, Copland, Grieg and more…Delightful.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“A tour de force that fuses speech, song and pianistic brilliance into a captivating vignette of one of the towering figures of 20th century American music…It’s also hilarious at times, and awe-inspiring in Felder’s unfolding of a compelling narrative while hitting every note of a varied, complex and difficult score.”—Huffington Post

“Hershey Felder’s astonishing talents as a musician, actor, and writer are uniquely combined in capturing so much of the essence of my father, Leonard Bernstein. His performance, rather than being an attempted imitation, truly reveals the man, his story, and his music.”—Alex Bernstein

“From the first piano notes and hauntingly beautiful singing in his one-man bio show, writer-performer Hershey Felder grips the audience in the palm of his hand and never lets go. Beginning by analyzing one of the most famous melodies of West Side Story, ‘Somewhere,’ Felder points out the tritone and minor sevenths in a brief, fascinating tutorial on how that composition was created. He then crawls inside Bernstein’s skin, as well as adopting various other personae, taking us through the legendary conductor-composer’s eventful life…This is a captivating performance of a fascinating life, vividly and emotionally related.”—LA Weekly

“Felder orchestrated a similar homage to musical genius in George Gershwin Alone last year. Now he returns to Berkeley Repertory Theatre with another charmer that tickles the ivories and the funny bone. While this piece shares many characteristics with that breezy Gershwin monologue, there’s far more dramatic heft to this one-man show…Felder crystallizes the watershed moments in the maestro’s life with poetry and sensitivity. Certainly the songs, particularly the selections from “West Side Story,” are as magical as ever.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group

“Felder reaches new depths of writing, acting and musical talents in Maestro. He displays an uncanny ability to capture Bernstein’s mercurial personality, melodious voice, scornful expression and fluid body movements, all while playing Bernstein’s own compositions as well as his favorite composers’ piano pieces.”—Berkeleyside

“It takes a certain chutzpah and considerable talent to impersonate this uniquely charismatic and supremely talented Bernstein. And Lenny liked nothing better than chutzpah combined with talent. Somewhere, he is looking down on this show no doubt bitching like crazy yet deeply touched that we still, 20 years after his death, care.”—LA Times

“Like Bernstein, Felder seems to thrive on the impulse to instruct and illuminate. He’s a masterful pianist with a showman’s sense of drama and dynamics…It’s a pleasure to watch.”—San Diego Union-Tribune