“I’ve been dead 125 years,” Hershey Felder tells us as he strolls onto the stage as Franz Liszt. He takes a more irreverent approach than usual to the subject of his new show, “Rock Star” (running through September 29 at Laguna Playhouse). This one-man-and-a-piano play about “the 19thcentury Elvis” does visit the dark side to be sure, delving into his relationship with son-in-law Richard Wagner—and the infamous Nazi appropriation of Wagner’s work—but the show is also very amusing, as when Felder discusses and characterizes Paganini, a key influence.
Directed by Trevor Hay, “Rock Star” takes place in the Liszt Museum in Bayreuth, Germany, on the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth in 2011. You won’t hear Liszt’s ever-popular “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2,” which the actor-playwright seemingly omits because he doesn’t want Lizst to be defined by it; you will get to know a complex artist as never before. I’m not supposed to “review” the show, but I’d remiss if I didn’t say I think it’s one of Felder’s best, though a trifle overlong. And you’d be a fool to pass up this world premiere. Call 949-497-ARTS.
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Hershey Felder, Joshua Bell bring new clarity to Beethoven
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Keyboard enthusiasts will also want to make plans to attend Pacific Symphony’s 35th anniversary season opener this week with 19-year-old piano phenomenon Conrad Tao (in his third appearance with the orchestra) performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, which you may recall from the movie “Shine.”
How accomplished is the Chinese American wunderkind from Urbana, Illinois, who gave his first piano recital at age 4? The White House named Tao a Presidential Scholar in the Arts in 2011, while the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts awarded him a YoungArts gold medal in music. Oh, and he’s got a CD of his own compositions coming out this year.
Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, the concert takes place September 26-28, in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The evening opens with California-based composer Peter Boyer’s “Festivities” and concludes with Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. Call 714-755-5799.
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