My guest today is
Canadian actor, playwright and composer Hershey Felder. Welcome to OpEdNews and
Chicago, Hershey. You're in town for the world premiere of Maestro:
The Art of Leonard Bernstein . You've already been quite successful with one-man shows. "The
Composer Sonata" was your trilogy about Gershwin, Chopin and Beethoven. The original
plan was to start with Chopin and Beethoven but you were discouraged from doing
so. Why? And how did you settle on Gershwin?
It was actually the director, Joel Zwick, [My Big Fat Greek Wedding] who in those days said, "No one knows you. How many people actually know what 'Monsieur Chopin' means? Perhaps you should start with someone more recognizable - that'll help."
I had played the Rhapsody and was touched by the public response, so I decided to investigate that character. I guess the rest, as they say, is history.
George Gershwin Alone is actually the second Gershwin show you've done. Tell us about SING and what inspired it.
SING wasn't a Gershwin show. It simply involved the story of a man who whistled the theme of the Rhapsody in Blue to identify himself to American liberators during the Second World War. SING was about that man's story.
I stand corrected. In a roundabout way, your fluency in Yiddish led you to SING and meeting the love of your life [wife Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada]. Explain, please.
Well, whether any of it is preordained or not, the elements of my life seem to be one thing leading to another. Homegrown Montreal boy born to immigrant parents, speaks Yiddish, wants to be a part of Spielberg Shoa Foundation interviews (as a child of Holocaust Survivors), goes to Canadian Consulate to renew passport to go to Europe to interview Mengele twin survivors at the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, returns to America, gets asked by the Consulate to perform for the former Prime Minister of Canada, tells story on stage of a boy who whistles the theme to the Rhapsody in Blue, comes to the attention of the Gershwins... you know, one thing after the other.