Let The Sunshine In

Galt McDermott, composer of HAIR and Two Gentlemen of Verona, has passed away. As we like to do here on the blog, let’s take a moment to appreciate and celebrate the man’s contribution to Shakespeare.

Forget about the obvious for a minute. I mean, come on, the man wrote a musical Two Gentlemen of Verona that won the Tony for Best Musical in 1971 (beating out Grease).

If you’ve only ever known HAIR as a “tribal love rock musical,” then you haven’t been listening closely enough.  One song is entirely Hamlet’s “What a piece of work is man” speech:


(The song isn’t in the movie, you either need to know the soundtrack, or see the live show.)

My favorite, though, is the big finale number, typically known as “The Rest Is Silence / Let The Sunshine In”.  The Hamlet reference is right there for everybody to see … but if you listening very closely, the background singers are on a whole different play:

Eyes look your last
Arms take your last embrace
And lips oh you the doors
Of breath… seal with
A righteous kiss
Seal with a righteous kiss
The rest is silence

That’d be Romeo and Juliet.  The hippies are layering one Shakespeare tragedy on top of another.  Which then segues seamlessly into the big celebration that is Let The Sunshine In.

Ready for the best part of this story?  My middle daughter is really into her vinyl (album) collection right now.  She’s a huge fan of musicals, but she’s also into the classic rock that I’ve introduced her to.  I’d forgotten, until today, that for my birthday a number of years ago a friend had presented me with a framed HAIR album.  It’s been sitting in my office ever since.

So I called my daughter from work and said, “You want to go on an adventure? There’s treasure to be found.” She was up for the challenge. I texted her the bright orange and green picture of the cover and said, “Go find this picture.”  She found it.  I said, “Open it.”

“It’s a record!” she squealed.  “It’s HAIR.  Can I play it?”

“Of course,” I told her. “That’s the treasure.  It’s my favorite.”

“I know,” she replied.

“And it’s very special today, because Galt McDermott, the man who wrote it?  He died.”

“Oh.”

“So I want you to have that.  I want you to play it, loud, and when I get home tonight I want to listen to it with you.”

“I’ll do that right now. I’ll wake people up.”

“Perfect.”

Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest, Mr. McDermott.  For others I might say “The rest is silence” here, but you brought too much music into the world, so we’re going to play you out with much volume and celebration.

Let the sunshine in!

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In The Year 3000

Romeo 3000Here’s a funny story that offers a glimpse into how I find some of the more unusual links I post here.

  • There’s a random Friends episode on in the background. They make a reference to a fictional character who’d performed in a Macbeth movie. They then pin it in time by saying, “They showed the trailer before Jackass.”
  • Well off I go to IMDB to see if there’s any interesting Macbeth adaptations that came out right around a year after Jackass (2001).
  • I find this weird 2003 version that is supposedly set in a surreal fantasy world where reality keeps changing.
  • Random browsing gets me interested in whatever happened to the Romeo and Juliet: The War movie that was supposed to be coming out.
  • It’s still in development so IMDB won’t let me see any details. I go googling and find this Variety article from 2015. There’s a comment on the bottom of that article from a guy named John Schnurr saying, “I just filmed this same plot, please don’t make this movie.”
  • <shrug> Sounds like a unique enough name.  Found him!  I look for Shakespeare credits (amid the pro-wrestling credits, strangely enough).
  • Sure enough, look what I found!  I give you… Romeo 3000.

This looks *so* bad. I don’t mean the acting or the special effects. Got to love everybody rocking the Borg eyepiece, the oddly out of place steampunk villain, and Romeo with the Winter Soldier arm.  Those are all straight out of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (oooo, the irony of making things sound sci-fi by adding 3000 at the end….)

No, I’m talking about the painful “This sounds like Shakespeare” writing. In the trailer alone:

  • “This be the year 3000…”
  • “This be not the story of star-cross’d lovers…”
  • “Romeo be the last of his line.”
  • “Romeo, Romeo, where arst thou Romeo?”

I’ll give them this, it looks like they sure went for it with whatever budget they had.  It’s actually a good trailer, with a nice quality video that shows it wasn’t shot on a potato. The fight scenes look like they could be fun.  Everybody’s acting their damnedest. And there’s some money left over for special effects.

Keep an eye out for the full-length version and report back if you ever get to see it!

 

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Shakespeare Crossword Clue, Macbeth, 4 Letters

Coworker:  “Shakespeare a clue in my crossword this morning.”

Me:  “I die.”

Coworker:  “What?”

Me: “Sorry. Was it, Romeo’s last words? Because I know that one.”

Coworker:  “No.  It was, ‘the witches in Macbeth’.”

I thought I had this one.

Me:  “Wyrd.”

Coworker:  “Nope.”

I admitted I was stumped.  What else could you say that was specific to Macbeth’s witches, in only 4 letters?

Coworker:  “They wanted ‘trio’.”

Me:  “Well that’s just … that’s annoying.  There’s nothing Shakespeare about that answer.”

Coworker:  “I know, but sometimes they’re like that.  Don’t feel bad, I had the t and the o and I still didn’t get it.”

I was obviously thrown off by Michael Fassbender’s Macbeth, because that one had four witches.  🙂

 

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Free Audiobooks From The Master of Verona

We can say we knew him when.  Author David Blixt has been around and commenting on Shakespeare Geek almost since its inception (I found this post from April 2008 to give you an idea).  That’s a review of The Master of Verona, book one of his Star-Cross’d series.

And now he’s giving away 10 copies of the audiobook version to Shakespeare Geek readers!

Cangrande della Scala is everything a man should be. Daring. Ambitious. Charming. Brilliant. Ruthless. To the poet Dante – indeed, to the world – Cangrande is the ideal Renaissance prince.

Until Dante’s son discovers a secret that could be Cangrande’s undoing.

Suddenly thrust into the schemes and betrayals surrounding Verona’s prince, Pietro Alighieri must navigate a rivalry that severs a friendship, divides a city, and sparks a feud that will produce Shakespeare’s famous starcrossed lovers, Romeo & Juliet!
 
Based on the plays of William Shakespeare and the poetry of Dante, THE MASTER OF VERONA is a sweeping novel of Renaissance Italy. Filled with swashbuckling adventure, unrequited love, and brutal treachery, this epic journey recalls the best of Bernard Cornwell, Sharon Kay Penman, and Dorothy Dunnett.

We’re going simple with this one – just comment below if you want one! First come first served.  Make sure you give the site a valid email address so we can email you back!

BONUS!  If audiobooks aren’t your thing, the Kindle edition will be available for FREE on September 26th!

Everybody say it with me now, “Thank you, David!”

 

 

 

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When You’re A Jet (West Side Story Reboot Is Coming)

Are we ready for a new West Side Story?

What if I told you Stephen Spielberg is directing?

The casting call is up!  September 11.

The announcement comes from the office of casting director Cindy Tolan. Auditions will take place at Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in Brooklyn, with the sign-in for men beginning at 9AM and the sign-in for women beginning at 1PM.

The call stipulates auditionees should be between 15 and 25 years old with a strong dance background and ability to sing, and also specifies: “the Sharks are Latinx, the Jets are Caucasian.”

The original is certainly dated (look at that dialogue!) so that’s screaming for a rewrite. Will all those dance numbers still hold an audience’s attention?  All the “coming to America” songs and aspects of the story are still as strong as ever, but I hope they don’t go over the top and make it purely commentary on the current administration.

West Side Story
A little bit of West Side Story dialogue.

 

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