Hands were clapping and feet were tapping Wednesday at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging, where singer-pianist Michael Feinstein entertained residents.
Fans requesting to photograph Feinstein, to shake his hand or to just chat made it a graceful struggle for him to even get on stage and play. But once Feinstein sat at the piano, he delighted residents with a versatile show that featured about a dozen tunes, such as "Always" and "The Man I Love."
"These are the kinds of songs I like to sing. Don't think I'm playing old songs for you," he told the audience of about 300 residents, many of whom sang along during the show.
Feinstein said he liked the witty and clever lyrics in songs by such pre-World War II lyricists as Irving Berlin and George and Ira Gershwin.
"They found so many different ways of saying, 'I love you,' " he said.
Feinstein said he first performed for seniors when his grandmother was in a convalescent home in Columbus, Ohio. After moving to Los Angeles in 1977, he began playing at the Reseda home.
"I'll always come until I'm eventually a resident here," Feinstein, 43, said jokingly.
At 20, Feinstein started helping lyricist Ira Gershwin, then 80, catalog his music and memorabilia. Since then, Feinstein launched his own career and has had successful albums, traveled on international tours and starred in critically acclaimed one-man shows.
After Wednesday's show, residents presented him with flowers and a handmade blanket and yarmulke. Watching him perform in a small setting was a treat that brought back memories for many residents.
"He always has a smile on his face and a song in his heart," said Bea Loew, 77. "I can't wait to tell my family about it. I feel as if I've just had money put in my hand."
Marilyn Balkan, 84, added: "I went up to him and told him he made me cry. There's nothing like the old-time songs. It hits you right in the heart. He's the most marvelous singer, period."