America's Oldest · Founded 1808

Hear the Heart of America Beat in Irving Berlin's I LOVE A PIANO! NOW - June 28

April 13, 2015

PHILADELPHIA, PA: Walnut Street Theatre’s 2014-2015 Independence Studio on 3 season concludes with a musical that captures the spirit of America through the timeless songs of Irving Berlin, I LOVE A PIANO. Directed and choreographed by Ellie Mooney, the production begins with previews on April 28th, opens on April 30th and continues through June 28th in the Walnut’s Independence Studio on 3.

I LOVE A PIANO will make you want to sing, dance, laugh, snuggle a little closer and shout with joy! This delightful musical follows the journey of a piano as it moves in and out of American lives from the turn of the century to the present. Irving Berlin's classic songs include "Blue Skies," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Puttin' on the Ritz," "How Deep is the Ocean," and, of course, "I Love a Piano." Alternately heartbreaking and hilarious, I LOVE A PIANO is a fitting tribute to the man Jerome Kern famously said had 'no place in American music – he is American music.'

Irving Berlin, born in 1888 as Israel Beilin, lived to be 101. During his life he composed over 1,000 songs, a legacy that is even more unbelievable seeing as he couldn’t read or write music. He played a transposing piano, allowing him to create his music in various keys. His very first transposing piano is on display not far from the Walnut Street Theatre at Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History.

In 1907, “Marie from Sunny Italy” became Berlin’s first published song, with his first international hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” following in 1911. The following decades brought iconic standards, including “White Christmas,” “Always,” “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better,” and “God Bless America.” His contributions to Broadway and Hollywood were extensive, with 17 complete scores written for Broadway, and material for six others. His scores include The Cocoanuts, Louisiana Purchase, This Is the Army, Miss Liberty, Call Me Madam and Annie Get Your Gun. For the big screen, his works include Top Hat, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Holiday Inn, Blue Skies, Easter Parade, White Christmas and There’s No Business like Show Business. Berlin’s love for his country was undeniable. He started the God Bless America Foundation, and was a generous supporter of many organizations, including the Army Emergency Relief Fund. Berlin was recognized with numerous awards during his lifetime, both for his work and his devotion to America, including a Special Tony Award (1963), an Academy Award (1942), a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1968), the Army's Medal of Merit from President Truman (1945), a Congressional Gold Medal for "God Bless America" and other patriotic songs from President Eisenhower (1954), and the Freedom Medal from President Ford (1977). He also co-founded the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, founded his own music publishing company and built a Broadway theatre, The Music Box, with producer Sam Harris.

Ellie Mooney returns to the Walnut’s Independence Studio on 3 following performances in last season’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and the title role in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. In addition to performing as Eileen in I LOVE A PIANO, Mooney will be directing and choreographing the production. She is very familiar with Irving Berlin’s material, as Mooney was associate director and choreographer for the first, second and third National Touring productions. At the Walnut, she recently directed and choreographed the popular WST for Kids show, Fancy Nancy the Musical. On stage, Mooney was most recently at the Walnut in Mary Poppins, with additional credits including 9 to 5: the Musical, My Way, The Music Man and Amadeus. David Jenkins (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; DINO!; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s A Grand Night for Singing) joins Mooney as music and vocal director.

Owen Pelesh makes his Independence Studio on 3 debut as George. A graduate of Philadelphia’s Temple University, Pelesh was last seen on the Walnut’s Mainstage in Mary Poppins. Additional Mainstage credits include 9 To 5: the Musical, Grease and State Fair. Scott Langdon also makes his Studio 3 debut as Alex. Langdon has been seen on the Mainstage in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, The Music Man and Love Story the Musical. Denise Whelan returns to the Walnut as Sadie. Walnut audiences will remember Whelan from Man of La Mancha, Good People, Curtains, Windy City and last season’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. This cast of four will lead audiences on a musical journey through the decades with the classic sounds of America as written by the man that captured the spirit of the nation’s voice, Irving Berlin.

The Walnut welcomes Scenic Designer Roman Tatarowicz, making his Studio 3 debut with I LOVE A PIANO, along with Lighting Designer Ryan O’Gara. Costume Designer Julia Poiesz and Sound Designer Christopher Colucci return, having most recently designed Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None on the Walnut’s Mainstage.

Season sponsor for the 2014-2015 Independence Studio on 3 Season is The Independence Foundation. Media season sponsors are Philadelphia Weekly and WRTI Radio. Tickets are $35 - $40 and are now available at 215-574-3550 or 215-336-1234. Tickets are also available at or