Irving Berlin's "I Love A Piano"

by DICK KEREKES
If you love a piano. If you love the music of Irving Berlin, then you are absolutely going to love the production of I Love A Piano, on stage at the FCCJ South Campus Wilson Center on Friday February 20th at 8 pm, Saturday 21st at 2 pm and 8 pm and closing on Sunday the 23rd at 2 pm.
This is a two act musical revue is done as a history of the 40 years during which Berlin was composing some of America’s beloved music. It starts in l910 to the l920s and speakeasies, on to the silent movies through the Depression and on to WW II. The skits about each era are short since the emphasis is on the music and portions of 64 of Berlin’s tunes are sung, danced or played on the piano.
A young talented cast of three men and three women are constantly coming in and out, doing duets, solos and ensemble numbers and putting on a display of the clothing worn this long span of American history. Costume fans will also love this show.
All of this is done on the intimate Wilson stage, where every seat in the house is excellent and just to make sure you hear every glorious note, the actors are miced. A white draped curtain that frames Pianist Markus Hauk goes the complete width of the stage and is bathed in many light combinations, giving us a feeling of complete set changes every several minutes.
I will be the first to admit that I did not know all of the songs I heard but I was surprised at how many I did know and able to sing along with in my mind. Just a few of the numbers included, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, “Blue Skies”, “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”, ‘Always”, “Anything You can Do”, and “You’re Just in Love.”
Berlin wrote the number one all time Christmas song, “White Christmas” and the only song ever about another of our holidays, “Easter Parade”. A very patriotic person, Berlin composed songs abut raising money for the war, fighting the war and living the war. Songs like, “You’re in the Army Now”, “Oh, and How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” and “You’re in the Army, Mr. Jones.”
My two person favorite melodies were “God Bless America” and ” There is No Business Like Show Business”, performed to perfection by Emily Mattheson, who was apparently the crowd favorite judging by the curtain call applause. The other two ladies, Ashley Peacock and Alix Paige, had excellent voices as well with unique singing styles that suited the songs they were chosen to sing.
Ryan Lammer, Kyle Fowler and Jason Weitkamp, proved to be adapt not only at adding a lot of comedy to the show but displayed fine singing voices as well.
The few younger patrons received a lesson in musical history, while most of the rest of the crowd enjoyed a trip down memory lane. A very heart warming journey indeed.
I hope you are reading this in time to catch one of the remaining performances; it would be well worth your effort. If you missed it, you missed a unique look at just some of the music and lyrics by a man considered by some to the greatest song writer of all time, Irvin Berlin. Call 632-3373 for information and tickets.

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april, 2022

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