There are few things I do without music.

From the moment I wake up & get moving until I leave the house, music is playing. There are a few quiet moments in the dozen or so steps to my car, but as soon as I turn the key music returns. Sometimes the radio, sometimes my latest album obsession. Rarely silence. This constant stream of songs continues in the background throughout the day & I love it.

I’m not anti-silence, I just adore music & prefer having a soundtrack to even the simplest moments.

I don’t discriminate with music either. Other than country. Well, most current country. I can get down with some old school Garth or my favorite karaoke ladies. You know the ones I mean. Anyhow, I digress…

As big a fan as I am of almost every melodious creation, I rarely stop to think about the story behind a song, let alone the soul who wrote it, which isn’t always the artist, after all.

Enter Actors Theatre of Louisville & Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin.

Image Courtesy of Actors Theatre of Louisville

I had no idea what to expect from this one man show other than great American music, & that was enough for me to eagerly fill a seat in the Pamela Brown Auditorium, along with my theatre-loving friend Katie.

I hoped we would get a healthy dose of the compositions of Irving Berlin & perhaps a sing-a-long opportunity. White Christmas is the first holiday film I watch every year & I love old movies. And Broadway. And the charm of ragtime. I’d gleefully dance cheek to cheek with Fred Astaire any day. Who wouldn’t? But, I had no idea just how great a musical treat we had in store.

Mr. Felder made his entrance & without much introduction took his place at the keys & his hands began to dance. Not as a man playing the songs of Irving Berlin, but as Irving himself. A full embodiment of the man who changed the landscape of American music & gave us some of the most iconic songs of all time. Mr. Felder had done his research & this passion project paid perfect homage to the layers of life that Irving used as fuel for his legendary works.

This was easily one of the best shows I’ve experienced in the past year, but what stood out most was the insight into the roots of each song beyond the words. I wont give things away, but let’s just say that White Christmas wasn’t written looking out a charming New England window at snow capped hills with a cup of hot cocoa in hand, & it came from a place of brokenness, not full joy. Not knowing Irving’s full life story, I never would have guessed what laid beneath the lyrics I carol to each December, & I am grateful for this glimpse beyond the face value qualities of the familiar.

I cannot more enthusiastically encourage you to make plans to see Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin at Actors Theatre of Louisville, showing now through February 17th. He is also hosting a one night special event, The Great American Songbook Singalong on February 11th at 7:30PM! This is sure to sell out fast, so grab your tickets today & journey with him through 100 years of the best music made in America!

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