Philip Fortenberry, a solo pianist, improvisational composer and cast member of “Jersey Boys,” has debuted his new intimate acoustic cabaret-style piano performance, “Liberace and Me,” for a limited engagement at the Liberace Museum.
“Liberace and Me,” conceived and written by Fortenberry, offers a loving respect for the spirit and legacy of Liberace and the impact he had in Fortenberry’s life and career. Fortenberry opens his engaging performance with Liberace’s signature arrangement of “Chopsticks,” while seated at Mr. Showmanship’s own nine-foot Concert Grand Baldwin. He weaves the music around his own life story and personal journey as a pianist from rural Mississippi to Broadway, from recitals and talent shows, to command performances for royals and dignitaries. Throughout the 45 minute performance, Fortenberry acknowledges the empowering influence of Liberace and shares his own original compositions, selections from the classical repertoire, and show-stopping Broadway music. One of the many highlights of his performance is his offering of an original “Portrait in Music,” an improvisational gift to the audience created in the moment that echoes Liberace’s spirit of spontaneity. He closes with a nostalgic rendition of Liberace’s famous, “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
“Liberace and Me” is presented in the 75-seat Cabaret Showroom at the Liberace Museum, 1775 E. Tropicana Ave. at Spencer. Performance time is at 1 p.m. three days a week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Tickets are $17.50 per person and reservations are recommended. Tickets may be purchased online at www.Liberace.org, by phone 702-798-5595 ext. 14, or at the Liberace Museum store cashier, based upon availability. Museum store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 pm on Sunday. Group discounts of 15 tickets or more may be booked by calling 702-798-5595 ext. 13.
“I’m an enthusiastic supporter of Liberace and his legacy,” said Fortenberry. “His unique artistry influenced my journey as a musician, and many other entertainers, so these performances are an expression of my commitment to the Liberace Foundation’s mission, my love of improvisational performing, and a way of giving back to both encourage and promote aspiring artists everywhere.”
“We’re thrilled to have Philip’s captivating gift of talent, music, and time, and especially his willingness to fully embrace the Liberace mission,” added R. Darin Hollingsworth, president of the Liberace Foundation and Museum. “Philip’s vision as our artistic director, his collaboration, and introductions to so many other Broadway entertainers that now call Las Vegas home have helped us create a very special cabaret venue for other artists that we hope ultimately will carry on in the coming years. And, this is an unforgettable entertainment experience that comes straight from Philip’s heart to the hundreds of locals and tourists that visit our Museum every month.”
Fortenberry has built an impressive list of credits during his career while performing throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He began playing piano at age four and by seven was the accompanist for church in his home town of Columbia, Miss. He performed his first solo concert when he was 12, while continuing his work as a church pianist and organist throughout high school, and college until he left the south and moved to New York City. He holds a Master of Music degree in classical piano performance from New Jersey City University. Early in his career, he became the musical director and on-stage pianist for the popular off-Broadway revue, “Forbidden Broadway,” and later as the musical supervisor for London’s West End version. Fortenberry has also played for many Broadway productions and national tours, including “Cats,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “Ragtime,” “Seussical The Musical,” “Sideshow,” and “The Lion King.” He toured the U.S. and Canada in concert performances of “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber” starring Michael Crawford. He performed at the United Nations’ 40th Anniversary Celebration and at the 70th birthday celebration for Lady Margaret Thatcher. In Las Vegas, he has played for several theatre productions including associate conductor/music director for “Hairspray,” “We Will Rock You,” “Mamma Mia,” “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular,” and now as the associate conductor of “Jersey Boys” at the Palazzo.
As a recording solo artist, he’s recorded a number of original solo albums including his latest release in 2008, “Portraits in Music,” and performed on a number of original cast recordings from his career in musical theatre. For more information, visit the website at www.philipfortenberry.com.
Fortenberry’s performances will be dark Dec. 23-Jan. 4, as he’s been invited and will be re-appearing in the on-stage orchestra of “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber” at The Kennedy Center. Entertainment during the dark days may be announced at a later date.