Hershey Felder is a word renowned pianist in his own right, so as soon as he starts playing, the story almost automatically takes an undeserved back seat. But, Felder still manages to bring Tchaikovsky to life with a witty and often touching repertoire of anecdotes. Yes, there is more he could have included, more drama that could have been infused, but this is a trade-off, because what we do get is compelling storytelling set to the music behind that very story.
Felder is alone on stage throughout, there’s old looking furniture, candles and the piano, of course. This attractive staging helps add to the ambiance; the backdrop is like a giant three-dimensional oil painting, always changing to add the right context to the setting, while the portrait hanging above his desk also changes dependent on the subject of conversation, it all has a very magical feel to it. The lighting from Christopher Ash gives the whole piece a warm and inviting feel, you feel drawn in to the story at every turn.
Our Great Tchaikovsky may not immediately appeal to every theatre-goer, because unless you’re already a Tchaikovsky fan, it’s only when you begin to hear Hershey Felder play and speak (often at the same time) that you really get an understanding of what this production is about. Interesting, moving and filled with wonderful piano playing, Our Great Tchaikovsky has a great deal to be enjoyed.
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