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April 13, 2018:

Nathan Gunn Flying Solo reviewed by Rob Stevens

(photo by Ed Krieger)

Playwright/pianist Hershey Felder has played over 4500 performances in his self-created solo productions as varied composers from Beethoven to Liszt, Gershwin to Tchaikovsky, Chopin to Berlin. His latest work features him as writer/director but not as performer. The title, Nathan Gunn Flying Solo, kind of gives it away. Nathan Gunn was one of the first bariunks, a hunky baritone singing on opera stages from Paris to Madrid, New York to San Francisco. Gunn had also taken on some musical theatre roles in such classics as Showboat and Sweeney Todd. In this new solo show, he tells his story of discovering opera in South Bend, Indiana and making his local debut at 16 in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and also starring in his high school’s production of Oklahoma. Gunn has a beautiful voice and, with musical director Michael Bagby accompanying him on piano, he performs some highlights from his career–FIGARO, BILLY BUDD, CAMELOT, CAROUSEL. It’s thrilling to hear his voice in the intimate confines of the Moulton Theatre. Gunn is very personable and charming and a good storyteller, often taking on the personality and voice of some of the people in his life, from grandfather and father to opera diva Renata Scotto. It’s a very personal story he tells and you can’t help but wish he shared more gossip and tidbits about his life in the opera world.

Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd. in Laguna Beach. Ends April 22. www.lagunaplayhouse.com

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