Love, Love, LOVED King Lear

16 07 2008

I just saw a spectacular performance of King Lear at the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ. Does it get better than Daniel Davis’ masterful interpretation of the foolish, mad, tragic king? WOW! It’s as if he transforms and transports himself literally and physically into character. Although I’m no expert, I have seen more than my share of Shakespearean acting that I’ve thought was good or at least good enough to give myself over to the moment and enjoy the presentation. But this performance was mind blowingly great. Daniel Davis’s Lear makes Denzel Washington’s Caesar look like high school…he really was THAT good!

It takes guts to put yourself out there on stage like that…my kind of actor!


Across the Universe

3 04 2008

Do you like The Beatles? If so watch Across the Universe. My friends have been talking about it since it appeared in theatres. But, with my head down as usual, I plodded on day to day without taking too much notice…until last weekend.

What a creative breath of fresh air is this movie! Julie Taymor reveals her brilliant creativity as the film’s director and co-writer. I had to watch it a second time and watch the special features DVD before I began to more fully appreciate the multi-dimensional metaphors.

The movie takes many of the most familiar Beatles songs and recasts them to tell a tale of the sixties and early seventies from a slightly different perspective.  It’s the music that hit me first. I’m still singing. I sat in an all-day meeting at work yesterday with All You Need Is Love playing and replaying in my head.

Then I began to see the interpretation and how that is so brilliantly brought to life on screen. Not your run-of-the-mill Hollywood production. Check it out when you get a chance.

Only Cyrano Knows For Sure

27 10 2007
‘Tis well known, a big nose is indicative
Of a soul affable, and kind, and courteous,
Liberal, brave, just like myself, and such
As you can never dare to dream yourself
Rascal contemptible!  For that witless face
That my hand soon will come to cuff–is all
As empty. . .
–of pride, of aspiration,
Of feeling, poetry–of godlike spark
Of all that appertains to my big nose
                                – Cyrano de Bergerac,
Act I, Scene 1

I apologize for the bad pun, but how could I possibly resist?? I saw Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway last night starring Kevin Kline, Jennifer Garner, and Daniel Sunjata. With his aristocratic bearing and sense of comedic timing, Kevin Kline fits the character of noble Cyrano like a hand in an isotoner glove. Jennifer Garner plays the perfect ingenue and Daniel Sunjata, her macho but intellectually-challenged beau.

I was enthralled  during the first 3 acts with the Shakespearesque witticisms. The fencing scene in Act I between Cyrano and a viscount is particularly fantastic. During the intermission, my friend Maureen and I were reviewing our past experiences with Cyrano.

Maureen talked about how she was moved by Derek Jacobi’s interpretation of Cyrano on Broadway in 1984. I replied that I had never seen Cyrano on stage, but I remembered the movie with Steve Martin. Of course, Maureen was quick to point out that that movie, Roxanne, was actually a modern interpretation of Cyrano. In fact, Steve Martin’s character was named Charlie Bales and not Cyrano…doh!

But, in my own defense, Kevin Kline and Steve Martin share similarities in their comedic timing and intellectual delivery. Why shouldn’t Kline’s performance bring Martin’s to mind??

After the standing ovation at the play’s conclusion, we agreed that the show was definitely worth the price of the tickets although Maureen said that Derek Jacobi had actually moved her to tears during the final scene in 1984. Kevin Kline did not so move either of us here. Whether that is because Kline is just acting the part versus being the part or whether we’re just older, more cynical, and less gullible, I do not now.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed Cyrano immensely and, if you can, go see it!

In case you’re interested you can watch Jose Ferrer in the 1950 film version of Cyrano for which he won an academy award here. You can download the play as an ebook from Project Gutenberg here. You can get more information about the soon-to-open Broadway production here.

Lord, What Fools These Mortals Be!

16 08 2007

Fools, NOT! Frances and I trekked to NYC last night to see Shakespeare in the Park. Every summer, the Public Theatre stages productions of the Bard’s plays in Central Park’s open-air venue, the Delacorte Theatre. Performances are free of charge to anyone with enough perseverance to wait in line for tickets.

So we waited, eating our deli sandwiches, people-watching, and catching up after a busy summer. We arrived about half an hour later than I had expected and were a tad anxious about getting in. Luck was on our side, however. We scored tickets in the front row of the center of the theatre!!! Thank you to the people who didn’t show!!

The production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was fabulously done with the play-within-a-play actors absolutely stealing the show! They put on their comedic tragedy, a mockery of sorts of Romeo and Juliet,  so effectively that the house roared with laughter. Jay O. Sanders plays Nick Bottom, the pompous troupe player whom Puck turns into an ass and with whom Titania, the fairy queen, is magically induced to fall in love as a vengeful trick by Oberon, the fairy king. You’ll probably recognize his face.

Jay O. Sanders

A note to my poet readers, here’s what Shakespeare says about poets in Act V, Scene 1.

The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

Many thanks to The Bard for giving shape, habitation and names to his timeless imaginings. I was jovially entertained!

Geoduck Anyone?

24 07 2007

Behold the geoduck (pronounced “gooey duck”)…


I am NOT kidding. It’s a very large clam native to Pacific coastal areas in Washington, Alaska and British Columbia. It’s farmed and harvested as a sashimi delicacy. Ian and I discovered it tonight while watching a rerun of Dirty Jobs.

This had to be one of the funniest segments Mike Rowe has ever done. He shadows the geoduck lifespan from spawning to harvesting to eating. The sexual innuendos are hilarious. 

“Is that a geoduck in your pocket or are you just glad sashimi?”

If you have a DVR, start recording Dirty Jobs reruns. Look for the episode entitled “Geoduck Farmer” which aired originally on July 18, 2006.

Ian! Ian! There’s a Cat on Your Head!

10 06 2007

Ian and Cat

As promised I have more from our King Tut adventure. In the evening after Tut and swimming we all headed off to a restaurant for a fine family feast. While we waited for our food, Devon was more than happy to oblige me with more of her artwork. Here is a companion to the Aunt Denise, There’s an Oreo on Your Head! piece that she did for me a few weeks ago.

 In this lovely portait, we see Ian with an unspecified cat on his head. We know right away that this is Ian because of the hair which is a very accurate representation of the actual long wavy locks. Also, notice the angry eyes…I suppose anyone would have angry eyes if you had cat claws in your scalp. I think Ian must have gotten a little too much sun that day because his lips are bright red.

Now just to clarify things, the artist specifically said as she was presenting this picture to the table that the hand gesture is Ian scolding the naughty cat by shaking his index finger at it. Don’t read anything more into it beyond that.

One thing that I’m not sure about, though, is the 2 black bulbous things just by Ian’s shoulders. Hmmm…what could they be…shoulder pads, necklace, bandana…? Well, I guess every artist likes to keep her audience guessing.

Funky Tut

8 06 2007


It’s been a hectic week…apologies to my loyal fan base (you KNOW who you are) for not publishing this sooner. 

 Last Saturday, Ian and I had a fabulous day in Philadelphia! My brother Scott, his wife Debbie and their two adorable twins, Devon and Taylor, treated us and Ian’s girlfriend Julie to a visit to the Tutankhamun exhibit at the Franklin Institute.

The exhibit was nothing short of spectacular…truly amazing artifacts! This is a MUST-SEE for anyone who can get there.

I have much more to say about Saturday, but not enough time at the moment, except to present the Egyptian Cat Queens. I think the update to the Tut headpiece is very fetching…too bad ol’ Tut didn’t think of that himself. Even Steve Martin didn’t come close with such touches back in the day when he was doing his Funky Tut routine…that video is below.

Egyptian Cat Queens