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San Diego’s 22nd Annual Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival kicked off Thursday, May 21, with an appearance by Hershey Felder at the Balboa Theatre. A San Diego favorite, Mr. Felder eschewed his usual portrayals of musicians, taking on instead the role of raconteur and sharing his love of the American musical theatre.

Hershey Felder Photo courtesy San Diego REPertory  Theatre

Hershey Felder
Photo courtesy San Diego REPertory Theatre

As an added bonus, the audience was encouraged to sing along throughout the 100-minute, no intermission, program.

Though the performance was billed as a trip through the Great American Songbook, Mr. Felder’s program focused on musical theatre and the many contributions of Jewish composers and lyricists to that genre. The evening included music from George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rogers, and Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock. The songs came from landmarks of musical theatre such as Porgy and Bess, Show Boat, Oklahoma!, The King and I, Carousel, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, and Fiddler on the Roof.

Mr. Felder commented that San Diego audiences have always been eager to sing along and also not shy about doing so. But, the evening didn’t harken back to the old “Sing Along With Mitch” (Miller) days. Rather, Mr. Felder might perform a bit of the song and invite the audience to with him on the chorus. There was no bouncing ball to follow, just Mr. Felder calling out the lyrics right before they were sung.

Between songs, Mr. Felder would tell stories about the composers, the productions, and his own involvement in researching his productions where he portrayed George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. The stories were consistently engaging, and the audience enthralled.

This one-night appearance was a marvelous way to kick off the festival, which runs under the auspices of the San Diego REPertory theatre through July 26. Visit the San Diego REP website for details of the other events in the festival.

[box]Set list:

It’s Ain’t Necessarily So (George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess)
Summertime (George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess)
Love Is Here to Stay (George and Ira Gershwin)
Always (Irving Berlin)
Old Man River (Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, Show Boat)
Oh, What a Beautiful Morning (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Oklahoma!)
Getting to Know You (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, The King and I)
Something Wonderful (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, The King and I)
You’ll Never Walk Alone (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Carousel)
Dites-Moi (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, South Pacific)
Some Enchanted Evening (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, South Pacific)
There is Nothing like a Dame (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, South Pacific)
Bali Ha’I (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, South Pacific)
The Sound of Music (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, The Sound of Music)
My Favorite Things (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, The Sound of Music)
So Long, Farewell (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, The Sound of Music)
Edelweiss (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, The Sound of Music)
Anatevka (Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Fiddler on the Roof)
Do You Love Me? (Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Fiddler on the Roof)
Sunrise, Sunset (Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Fiddler on the Roof)
Over the Rainbow (Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, The Wizard of Oz)[/box]

DOWNLOAD PROGRAM CREDITS HERE

Photo of San Diego Repertory Theatre
San Diego Repertory Theatre
Home 79 Horton Plaza San Diego CA 92101 USA Work Phone: (619) 544-1000 Website: San Diego REP website
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Bill Eadie

Bill Eadie

In addition to reviewing theatre for San Diego Story, Bill also reviews for TalkinBroadway.com. He is a member of the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle and the American Theatre Critics Association. Bill is an emeritus professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University.

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