What could be more fun than Gershwin for the holidays? After four months of previewing and premiering his tentative work in progress “Monsieur Chopin, ” Hershey Felder returns to the one-man show that that he has became indelibly associated with for a two-week farewell holiday run: “George Gershwin Alone.” What makes Felder’s portrayal so unique is that he not only tells Gershwin stories and relates his disappointments and triumphs with joy and pathos, but in relating how he composed “Swanee,” for instance, he can not only sing in much the manner that Gershwin would have, but has mastered his very complex and syncopated piano stylings as well. Had Felder been able to tell Gershwin stories the entire show or play Gershwin standards all evening, this show would be an effective and status quo one-man show. But Felder’s ability to do both of those things so extraordinarily—and often simultaneously—is what takes the experience to an entirely other level. You realize when Felder is performing the entire “Rhapsody in Blue” in a tricky reduction of both piano and orchestra parts that you are hard-pressed to think of current pianists who could toss off this virtuosic music with such playfulness and heart. Whatever you do, don’t miss the post-curtain “sing along” and request section where you can have your favorite Gershwin hits played on the spot and sung by the entire audience being lovingly spoon-fed the lyrics just the way George himself would do it at society parties. (Dennis Polkow)
Dec. 23 through Jan. 8 (no show Dec. 25), Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted; (312)988-9000.