Saturday, April 23, 2016

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

Earlier this week, the world lost two titans from the world of music, bandleader-songwriter-entertainer-recording producer and multi-instrumentalist Prince and prolific guitar slinger Lonnie Mack - actually in the same day. The world lost this literary titan 400 years ago today: William Shakespeare, a.k.a. The Immortal Bard. All of the above, nothing if not inspired, left an amazing body of work behind which we and future generations can enjoy and learn from - as have too many iconic artists who have passed thus far in 2016.

The blend of William Shakespeare plus 20th century pop culture gets this writer thinking of the 1935 film of A Midsummer Night's Dream, produced by Warner Brothers, directed by William Dieterle and featuring an all-star cast.

There are quite a few very enjoyable movies based on Shakespeare. Among them, this correspondent will happily watch any film starring Sir Ian McKellen.

Another actor who this writer loves to hear perform pretty much any Shakespeare play is Sir Patrick Stewart. Just imagine what a thrill it would have been to attend the following 1973 performance of Julius Caesar; I sincerely hope some video of it exists somewhere. The beauty of the language and the creativity of Stewart's acting are stunning to behold.

And then there's Olivier. . .

And then there's Orson Welles and Peter O' Toole.

The Orson Welles screen adaptations of Macbeth and Othello transport the viewer to another world - a netherworld, actually, almost as dark as Orson's gritty noir thriller A Touch Of Evil.

One of the blogmeister's all-time favorite movies is Welles' masterpiece Chimes At Midnight, starring Orson as Falstaff and adapting elements from various plays the rotund rapscallion had roles in, including Henry IV (parts 1 and 2), Henry V and The Merry Wives Of Winsor. On the big screen, this is quite an epic and a remarkable piece of work by all involved.

Essentially, today's post is also this blogger's excuse to reference a certain favorite song, Brush Up Your Shakespeare, from both a favorite Broadway show and MGM musical, Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate.

No matter what is going on in Your Correspondent's life, he is happy to drop everything to watch Kiss Me Kate yet again!

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