"Romantique"**** till 1-17 August Reviewed by Carl A. Rossi

"Romantique"

Reviewed by Carl A. Rossi

Yes, ROMANTIQUE was a dull clockwatcher but it wasn’t terrible --- should Mr. Felder keep the music and swap his trite dialogue for voice-over, the result would be no worse than an A&E Biography where homogenized surface is all. Suffice it to say that Mr. Felder wrote another vehicle for himself: the paying public came to hear him play Chopin which he did superbly and they went home happy as did audiences who attended the silly biopic A SONG TO REMEMBER, several generations ago.

"Romantique" (1-17 August)
AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER
Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, CAMBRIDGE, MA
1 (617) 547-8300 Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Romantique"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide

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note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Carl A. Rossi


"ROMANTIQUE"

by Hershey Felder
directed by Andrew J. Robinson and Joel Zwick

George Sand … Stephanie Zimbalist
Eugène Delacroix … Anthony Crivello
Frédéric Chopin … Hershey Felder

I attended the final performance of the A.R.T. production of ROMANTIQUE which took a beating from the press --- those who applauded Hershey Felder for his one-man Gershwin show were less than enchanted with his three-character “imagination with music” about Chopin, George Sand, his benefactor and beloved, and their mutual acquaintance Eugene Delacroix. Yes, ROMANTIQUE was a dull clockwatcher but it wasn’t terrible --- should Mr. Felder keep the music and swap his trite dialogue for voice-over, the result would be no worse than an A&E Biography where homogenized surface is all: here, Chopin was a fragile, talented pill brimming with hit tunes; George Sand, the nice Lady in Pants who loves him but doesn’t understand him; Delacroix, an Artist’s Best Friend. Suffice it to say that Mr. Felder wrote another vehicle for himself: the paying public came to hear him play Chopin which he did superbly and they went home happy as did audiences who attended the silly biopic A SONG TO REMEMBER, several generations ago.

Yes, Mr. Felder played superbly --- the Polonaise in A Major threatened to turn the evening into a costume concert --- as Chopin himself, he was lumpy and sullen, the type of invalid who would linger for years; I missed his Gershwin impersonation where I hope he was far more appealing (his resemblance to Lizst makes me wonder where his next “imagination” will lead him to --- SONG WITHOUT END, anyone?). Being a trained pianist, actually playing on stage, Mr. Felder was, of course, convincing as a musician; Stephanie Zimbalist (Sand) and Anthony Crivello (Delacroix) had to fall back on stock gestures to indicate that she was a novelist and he, a painter (pity that Mr. Felder didn’t probe into their respective egos and demons; the pair passed many a minute playing statues while his Chopin played). Ms. Zimbalist was a neutral Sand, filling the vast stage with empty gestures and declamation; Mr. Crivello, who has some Presence, made a handsome, virile Delacroix with little to do. Yael Pardess designed an equally handsome set --- three frames within frames draped in red curtains yet skewered to remind the audience they were at the A.R.T., not the Huntington.

Imbedded in ROMANTIQUE was one truly Romantic image: while Chopin performed the Etude in E Major, Sand rested her head on his shoulder and her right hand on his to feel the music through his fingers. Here was a love story, doomed to end --- the music that has brought Chopin and Sand together will also drive them apart; had ROMANTIQUE offered more of those images I’d have gone home as happy as the rest of the audience.

"Romantique" (1-17 August)
AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER
Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, CAMBRIDGE, MA
1 (617) 547-8300

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |