Only The Bard and a good cause could persuade 19 of L.A.'s top acting talents to perform in an evening of Shakespeare's drama and music on April 25th at the Moss Theatre in Santa Monica. This extraordinary group will perform from the Sonnets, read excerpts from the plays, and do appropriate songs to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Will's birth. As actor Malcolm MacDowell, who will be reciting lines from 'The Tempest' told me, "Shakespeare is the voice of human experience, and there is no emotion that any of us has felt -- anger, love, joy, pain, loss -- that Shakespeare hasn't written about... which is what makes him so human." The lovely co-host of the evening, actress Dana Delaney, then added: "Who knows more about love than Shakespeare? Just look at al those lovers -- Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Othello and Desdemona, or the love triangles in the Sonnets -- he didn't miss a trick... from infatuation to heartbreak to revenge, it's all there."
Malcolm MacDowell will read from 'The Tempest' photo by Jay
The Shakespeare director-scholar Louis Fantasia then told me that people underestimate Shakespeare's impact on music. "Not only are his plays full of songs, but his plays are used as the basis for dozens of operas, while composers from classical to jazz have set his words to music." The Millenium Consort Singers will perform in Renaissance, Elizabethan ad modern choral masterpieces based on his texts, while a fine jazz artist, Sherry William, will sing classics from composer Johnny Dankworth's "Shakespeare Songbook."
The event is part of Britweek, a program with over 40 events held each spring in Los Angeles to help bond a creative connection between the U.K. and L.A. The group's chairman, Bob Peirce, later told me: "Britweek celebrates creativity and innovation, and no one in history was more creative and innovative than him. His plays and sonnets are as alive and new as they were in his lifetime. Thousands of his words and phrases form a huge part of the English language today... and of course he was a great romantic".
Joely Fisher will read from the Sonnets. photo from Britweek
The cast of actors in the 90-minute production are: Ashley Bell, Eric Braeden, Claudia Christian, Nigel Daly, Neil Dickson, Joely Fisher, Mira Furian, Judy Geeson, Michelle Greene, Harry Hamlin (the star of my HBO movie, "Laguna Heat"), Malcolm MacDowell, David Melville, Jane Seymour, Joan Van Ark, Sophie Winkleman, Robert Wisdom and Michael York.
This evening is being presented by Beverly Hills Wealth Management, with a portion of the proceeds supporting the Hobart Elementary Shakespeareans and the Inner City Shakespeare Ensemble. Tickets and VIP packages for "An Evening of Shakespeare, Music and Love" are on sale at www.britweek.org.
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