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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare Musicals
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0118. Saturday, 18 February 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Dave Kathman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Feb 95 21:46:29 CST
        Subj:   Shakespeare musicals
 
(2)     From:   Shirley Kagan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Feb 1995 17:41:51 -1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0102 Re: Musicals
 
(3)     From:   Roger D. Gross <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Feb 1995 12:39:58 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   musical of Two Gents
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dave Kathman <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Feb 95 21:46:29 CST
Subject:        Shakespeare musicals
 
I don't know if it's the same one Sean Lawrence is referring to, but here in
Chicago, *Hamlet! The Musical* has been playing weekly for at least the last
few months at the Improv Olympic theater at 1218 W. Belmont, and has received
rave reviews.  I haven't managed to see it yet (my lack of both time and a car
being the main reasons), but I will quote in full the capsule review that has
been appearing in the Chicago Reader:
 
                      Hamlet!
"Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight:  that's the spirit behind Great
Exploitations' hilarious musical spoof of Shakespeare's most famous play.
Written in a perky 60s style that recalls Richard and Robert Sherman's Disney
film scores, Jeff Richmond and Michael Thomas's briskly paced one-act doesn't
coast on kitschy smugness or gross-out grotesqueness like so many spoofs;
instead it offers a clever series of surprising variations on the original
story, building to the upbeat ending implied by the title's exclamation point
and proving that there is nothing like a Dane.  It's all grandly silly, but it
works because the company approaches the material without lazy condescension.
The witty result should entertain Shakespeare admirers and musical-comedy
aficionados as well as the late-night party-show crowd."
 
Showtime is Saturdays at 11 PM, and their phone # is (312) 880-0199 for anyone
who wants to check it out.
 
Dave Kathman

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Shirley Kagan <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Feb 1995 17:41:51 -1000
Subject: 6.0102 Re: Musicals
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0102 Re: Musicals
 
There's a cute adaptation of "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (very early 70's) that I
think was John Guare.  Don't quote me on that.  I played Julia in a version for
which new music was written back in 1985 at Williams College.  I don't know
what the original music sounds like.  Our production went over really well.
 
Shirley Kagan
University of Hawaii.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger D. Gross <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Feb 1995 12:39:58 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        musical of Two Gents
 
Gavin Witt wondered about a recording of the musical version of TWO GENTS.
 
It was a sensational show which involved several people who were hot at the
time.  It was called, simply, TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.  It won both the Tony
and the New York Drama Critics Circle award for Best Musical in 1972.  Adapted
by John Guare and the director, Mel Shapiro.  Music by Galt McDermot (composer
of HAIR).  Lyrics by John Guare.  Ming Cho Lee did the set.  Raul Julia,
Clifton Davis, and Diana Davila were knockouts.  A very good, two-disc album
was released by ABC Records (# ?CSY 1001--do you suppose this was their first
album?).  Lots of pictures in this big three-fold album.
 
The script, music for several of the best songs, and lots of pictures were
published in a volume by Holt, Rinehart & Winston (a Holt Paperback).  It was
designed for outdoor touring and playing in the park but was so successful that
they brought it to Broadway which is where I saw it.  It's as good an
adaptation of Shakespeare as I have seen.
 
For Michael Martin:  in your search for versions of Shakespeare-set-to-music,
don't overlook the extraordinary album by the astonishing Cleo Laine.  I think
it's called SHAKESPEARE AND ALL THAT JAZZ.  The orchestra and, as I recall, the
melodies are by John Dankworth, her jazz-composer/band leader/alto-sax-playing
then-husband. Most of the songs are settings of the sonnets but there is one
called THE COMPLETE WORKS which makes a song of ALL of Shakespeare's titles.
The style of the music is mostly mellow jazz.
 
There are PLENTY of "period" recordings.  I'll send along some titles soon.
 
The more music, the better!
 
Roger
 

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