feat. David Tennant, Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellan, and a surprise cameo by a member of the Royal Family…
If, like me, you love Rufus Wainwright and Shakespeare, then this album will make you very, very happy. If, however, you like neither Shakespeare nor Rufus, it’s probably not your cup of tea. This unique collection of Shakespearean sonnets set to theatrical rock music features guests Florence Welch, Martha Wainwright, Anna Prohaska, Siân Phillips, Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Fisher and William Shatner. But the true stars are Rufus Wainwright and William Shakespeare.
The first two tracks are okay, but a somewhat lackluster start. The album truly begins with the dazzling title track, which is far more Rufus than the Bard.
The standout track is “Unperfect Actor,” in which Helena Bonham Carter gives brief poetic recitation before the song explodes into rock symphony featuring Martha Wainwright and Fiona Cutler.
Other highlights are “When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes,” which is sang as a lovely ballad by Florence Welch, and Anna Prohaska’s operatic “Farewell.”
The album also features new, alternative versions of three sonnets Rufus originally recorded for his Songs for Lulu album: “When Most I Wink,” “For Shame” and “A Woman’s Face.”
Festivall had another glorious evening of Shakespearan entertainment. The Charleston Ballet gave a lovely performance of Romeo & Juliet, featuring guest dancers from Columbia Classical Ballet and an exquisite score by Prokofiev.
We have to give a shout out to “Lady Capulet,” who stole the show with her raging, grief-stricken scene. Full disclosure: “Lady Capulet” has been my best friend since we were four years old and has written for Muruch in the past. But that doesn’t make her performance tonight any less awesome!
It’s been a grand weekend for local arts events, though a bit disorganized in regards to conflicting schedules. I hope the various arts organizations in Charleston better coordinate their schedules in the future, preferably with a central calendar perhaps under the management umbrella of Festivall. That will help local audiences support all the performances instead of having to choose between them.
Festivall‘s Shakespeare night was a great success. Those of you who missed the performance of Hamlet by the visiting American Shakespeare Company really missed out on a unique, spectacular evening of entertainment.
The Scottish Rite building was the perfect venue and one I hope gets utilized more in the future, its old-fashioned atmosphere and stadium seating was perfect for the play and the auditorium was packed with an enthusiastic all-ages crowd.
The ASC players doubled as an indie-folk band before the play and during intermission, covering pop hits like “Cups” and “Mad World” in an acoustic, The Decemberists style. More importantly the troupe had a firm grasp of the material as well as the natural comedic abilities to bring out the subtle humorous nuances of the Bard’s drama.
The audience was enraptured from beginning to end and I’m so happy to have been a part of such a dazzling and culturally rich experience. I hope the American Shakespeare Company will be invited back to perform Much Ado About Nothing…and Taming of the Shrew and MacBeth and anything else they’re willing to grace us West Virginians with. Bravo!