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Hershey Felder brings ‘American Story’ to Chicago

Pianist-actor-composer Hershey Felder, familiar to Chicago audiences for his one-man tour-de-force productions of “George Gershwin Alone,” “Monsieur Chopin” and “Maestro: Leonard Bernstein,” is bringing his latest work, “An American Story for Actor and Orchestra,” which depicts the story of Abraham Lincoln’s last day, to the Royal George Theatre beginning March 8.

In the play, set in New York city in 1932, a 90-year-old Dr. Charles Augustus Leale tells his true story about the events 67 years earlier, on the night of the president’s assassination. Felder, stepping away from his piano, stars as Leale, the 23-year-old Union Army surgeon who was the first to reach the president’s box at the Ford Theatre on April 14, 1865, where he was also in attendance that night. Leale then tended to the fatally wounded president through his death the following morning.

The play, with an original book and score by Felder, and presented with a live orchestra, is based on Leale’s first-person account, “Lincoln’s Last Hours,” and Leale’s original 1865 report discovered among Lincoln’s personal papers in Washington, D.C. Felder plans to recreate elements of the historic Ford Theatre inside the Royal George space.

In addition, Felder plans to bring a series of productions to the Royal George, including “I Found My Horn” (a London production starring Jonathan Guy Lewis); “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” (direct from Los Angeles and Boston and starring pianist/storyteller Mona Golabek) and “Lem,” a new work created by Felder and starring Christopher Lemmon as his legendary father, actor Jack Lemmon, in a musical story about fathers and sons.

Tickets ($60) for “An American Story” are now on sale at Royal George Theatre Box Office, 1641 N. Halsted, by phone at (312) 988-9000 or online at

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