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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: December ::
Re: Play On!
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2381  Friday, 29 December 2000

[1]     From:   Marti Markus <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 27 Dec 2000 18:23:26 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2375 Re: Play On!

[2]     From:   Michele Bolay <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 27 Dec 2000 14:27:22 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2375 Re: Play On!

[3]     From:   Tanya Gough <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 27 Dec 2000 16:35:26 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2375 Re: Play On!


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marti Markus <
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Date:           Wednesday, 27 Dec 2000 18:23:26 +0100
Subject: 11.2375 Re: Play On!
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2375 Re: Play On!

> Tanya Gough refers to 'Play On!, the Duke Ellington musical inspired by
> Shakespeare'. Ellington wrote no such work. He did write a
> 'Shakespearean' suite called 'Such Sweet Thunder' which was performed at
> the 1956 Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario and later  at New
> York Town Hall in 1957. But 'Play On!' is something quite different,
> cobbled together by somebody else.
>
> Terence Hawkes

He also wrote the incidental music for the 1963 production of "Timon of
Athens" in Stratford, Ontario (dir. Robert Coe, Michael Langham). This
"Timon of Athens suite" is no longer available as a whole, it seems. Or
is it? The RSC used parts of it for their recent production.

PLAY ON seems indeed to be cobbled together by somebody Epps.
http://www.play-on.com/show.htm:

"Imagine strolling the streets of Harlem amid the musical and artistic
renaissance of the 1940's. Then add the genius of Duke Ellington as seen
through the eyes of award winning, contemporary playwright, Cheryl
West.  What you have is a new musical that has thrilled San Diego
audiences since its premiere last September.

PLAY ON! is a story loosely based on Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT as
experienced by a girl who poses as a man in order to fulfill her dream
of becoming a songwriter. As in all great comedies, the tale gets
twisted and turned throughout, and it takes destiny as well as a few
delightful coincidences to sort it out.

Conceived and directed by Sheldon Epps, the show offers a new twist on
the classic theme of mistaken identities, and weaves it into a modern
day fairy tale. It contains 20 Ellington classics including "Don't Get
Around Much Anymore," "Mood Indigo," "I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good,"
"It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing," and "Solitude."

Markus Marti,
University of Basle
http://www.unibas.ch/shine/home.html

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michele Bolay <
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Date:           Wednesday, 27 Dec 2000 14:27:22 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 11.2375 Re: Play On!
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2375 Re: Play On!

>Tanya Gough refers to 'Play On!, the Duke Ellington musical inspired by
>Shakespeare'. Ellington wrote no such work. (EDIT) 'Play On!' is something
>quite different, cobbled together by somebody else.

*Play On!* is an adaptation of *Twelfth Night*, with the "character" of
Duke Ellington standing for Duke Orsino. The cast is all
African-American, and the music is styled on jazz, swing, and torch
ballads. The Viola character, a young female composer, disguises herself
as a young man in order to have her work heard by the Duke, the Olivia
character is a sultry singer, etc.

Our local PBS station (in Philadelphia) aired this a few months ago, and
it was well worth watching. Except for the wooden performance of the
Duke (who makes Al Gore look perky) the cast was fantastic.

Michele Bolay

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tanya Gough <
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Date:           Wednesday, 27 Dec 2000 16:35:26 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 11.2375 Re: Play On!
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2375 Re: Play On!

> Tanya Gough refers to 'Play On!, the Duke Ellington musical inspired by
> Shakespeare'. Ellington wrote no such work. He did write a
> 'Shakespearean' suite called 'Such Sweet Thunder' which was performed at

> the 1956 Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario and later  at New
> York Town Hall in 1957. But 'Play On!' is something quite different,
> cobbled together by somebody else.
> email was sent using w3mail

According to the recent Broadway production website:

Set to the magic and music of Harlem in the 1940's, and featuring 20
Duke Ellington Classics including "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", "Mood
Indigo", "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing", "Black
Butterfly" and "Solitude", PLAY ON! is seen through the eyes of
Award-winning playwright, Cheryl L. West with scenic designs inspired by
the work of Romare Bearden, a famous artist of the 1940's and a great
friend of Duke Ellington. Duke Ellington's only granddaughter, Mercedes
Ellington, choreographs this new musical hit.

Perhaps I should have been more specific and attributed only the musical
portion to Ellington?  "Such Sweet Thunder" is a lovely bit of music, as
well.

Tanya Gough
 

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