Thursday, December 24, 2015

HOLIDAY DOUBLE-HEADER: Brilliant 'Berlin'; Hornblower hooray

Hershey Felder channels the great Irving Berlin at La Jolla Playhouse, in a spirited, fast-paced and engaging program.
It's set in Berlin's living room, with movie clips and fascinating commentary.  Below, the lovely Mandell Weiss Theatre. 


and courtesy LaJolla Playhouse

NOTHING EVOKES holiday spirit the way Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" does. And nothing says "holiday" like time on Hornblower's fleet -- maybe dinner, lunch or a buffet cruise. Why not combine my two favorite pursuits -- theater and cruising -- for an over-the-top present to yourself! A play and a Hornblower jaunt can be wrapped into a single day with one event in the afternoon, the other in the evening -- you choose the order. You're the culture choreographer.
FIRST COURSE: HERSHEY Felder's Irving Berlin show at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse. (This alone is worth an airplane ticket. Throw in fabulous dining, sunshine and the ocean and you're set.)
No other composer comes captures the spirit of American yuletide as does Berlin, born May 11, 1888, in Russia. As a child, he immigrated with his parents to Manhattan, growing up a poor Jewish kid on the lower East Side.  But he was rich in talent and discovered his gifts on the piano, which would move him to Broadway.
Irving Berlin, who played on the "black keys,"
-- sharps and flats -- had two daughters, who
were enthusiastic help in Felder's research.  
 He didn't take the name Irving Berlin.  It became his moniker when "Israel Isidore Baline" was misspelled as "I. Berlin" on an early composition.  His sheet music moniker stuck.
AS BERLIN was unique, so is Hershey Felder. He brilliantly shares Berlin's spirit, talent and uniquely "American" approach to musical theater and life.  Felder is a familiar musical face in San Diego, with gigs at the Lipinsky Family Jewish Arts Festival and one-man shows including his wonderful Gershwin homage.
His joyful tribute to Berlin is beautifully staged at La Jolla Playhouse in the Mandell Weiss Theatre.   An elegant  living room, decked out with poinsettias and a Christmas tree -- whose top glistens, of course -- provide the setting for Felder's Berlin odyssey as we traverse joys, sorrows, triumphs and eccentricities of the beloved composer.  Felder plays a young Berlin, then a loving husband, grieving father and tired Army recruit -- who hates to get up in the morning.... As his character reaches his centenary, Felder plays him halting and frail, still with characteristic humor. Through commentary and film clips, the thread that binds is a joyful concert of vintage Berlin music. The production finishes Jan. 3.

*  *  *
Hornblower fans enjoy an outing-- sisters Cookie and Misha.
This Hornblower cruise was out of San Diego Bay. 
AND WE'RE tooting the Hornblower horn.  In this quiet week between Christmas and  the dropping of the famous ball above Times Square in Manhattan, why not sail into the New Year aboard one of Hornblower Cruises' fine yachts. It's a happy way to treat family, friends and yourself to a night on the water with a lovely dinner, lunch or brunch.
Hornblower aficionado Bruce Keller toasts Hornblower in
the San Francisco Bay. Here's to "Happy Hornblowing" 2016.
We recently enjoyed the Hornblower's classy presentation on a sunset dinner cruise.  Fantastic salmon with apricot glaze and tender braised short ribs, gorgeous cranberry and greens with feta salad and a delightful apple cranberry tart. You may enjoy the sights and sips happy hour or a brunch cruise -- if you're seeing the play that evening.  The three-hour "full moon dinner cruise" is Christmas Day and Dec. 26. And if you're planning ahead, Hornblower offers special cruises for Valentine's Day and Easter.
Because Hornblower sails out of several U.S. ports, check and see if you are one of the lucky cities -- from Sacramento to New York City, including Long Beach, San Francisco and San Diego, where we happily winter.

Cookie cranks it out on her e-flat alto sax.

UP NEXT: KICK HELL out of your bucket list: It's New Year's resolution time. Instead of making lists of things to correct and improve upon, how about a list of things you'd love to do. The trip to the Pyramids, the cruise you've dreamed of, the sky-dive, the bridge climb in Sydney, Australia, the theater trip to London, a journey to the Galapagos to see the giant tortoises. Or have you always wanted to play the saxophone?  Carpe diem, kiddos: up next at whereiscookie. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us as the weekend approaches for our lively slant on adventure, travel and the arts.

1 comment:

  1. Caught this show over the weekend -- happened to be down from Los Angeles. Fantastic. I'd seen Felder in other productions but he has outdone himself!
    Bravo to the actor, and to these writers for sharing his gifts.