Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shakespeare Musicals

My experience with the spin-offs of Shakespeare's plays is very limited, but there are two musical spin-offs that I own and enjoy. West Side Story and Kiss Me Kate.

Take a look:

West Side Story 50th Anniversary Recording

I'd never seen the movie version of West Side Story, but when I heard about this 50th Anniversary soundtrack recording I was quite excited.

I was excited because of these two lovely people:

Hayley Westenra & Vittorio Grigolo
Maria & Tony

I knew and loved the incredible voices of Hayley and Vittorio and I was excited to hear them sing together. After listening to clips of the CD I bought my own copy and I really enjoy listening to the interesting numbers.

It surprised mr how many of these songs I was familiar with, songs like: Maria, America, I Feel Pretty and Somewhere. I just adore Hayley Westenra's version of I Feel Pretty! I wish I had some way to share that with you.

Here's a clip from Hayley & Vittorio singing Tonight. It's not the whole song and the picture quality isn't very clear but it's a lovely song!

I still haven't seen the film (still not sure I want to) but I really enjoy the lovely renderings of the songs on this album! Does anyone recommend the film?

Kiss Me Kate (1953)

I'm not a huge fan of The Taming of The Shrew but I was interested in this musical based loosely on that story mainly because of actor Howard Keel who I enjoy so much in Seven Wives For Seven Brothers. I hadn't seen Kiss Me Kate in a while so I re-watched it yesterday and quite enjoyed myself.

Kiss Me Kate tells the story of actors Fred and Lili, a divorced couple who come back together to perform the lead roles in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. Their real life personalities mirror those of Petruchio and Katherine. Can they keep the show together and realize they still love each other amidst fiances, flirts, flaming tempers and two fellows trying to collect on a gambling debt?

This isn't one of my favorite musicals but there were some fun moments. There are a few dances and costumes that I thought were a little immodest but overall it was fine. Music is by the famous Cole Porter and there are some great songs. I enjoyed all of Howard Keel's songs especially the song "I've Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua" which is a fun phrase to say anyway!

My favorite songs in Kiss Me Kate is definitely "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" sung by Slug and Lippy the two guys who come to collect on the gambling debt. They are so funny as they get swept up in the story. Here's a video of the two of them singing advice from Shakespeare to Fred.

So that's my bit of Shakespeare for today. Have you seen or heard any of these? Do you have a favorite song from either of these musicals? Any other musicals based on Shakespeare play you know of or recommend?

Very Truly Your's,


Anna Olivia said...

Now the thing with Hayley and Vittorio in the WSS soundtrack is very interesting indeed. :D I know who they are, and don't think I approve of this casting, because:

#1: This is Broadway, not opera. Vittorio is a full fledge Italian opera singer. And his accent would make these songs sound funny. =P I've heard him sing Maria before, and it was SO not West Side Story-ish.
#2. Hayley is NOT an opera singer at all, and her voice does not have the sound for this style of (Broadway) singing.
#3. His voice is far too superior for Hayley's, but surprisingly, they pull it off *ok* together, expect for the fact that you can hardly even hear her. I was never thrilled with her voice anyway, but...

My humble opinion. ;)

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

I agree about Vittorio's voice, he's such a strong Italian opera singer that it does sound a bit funny with him as Tony. But I do love him singing Maria, very romantic.
As for Hayley, she might not be right for this role but I just love her voice. I usually don't like most soprano's high tones (male voices are nicer to my ears) but her voice is just unique enough that I really enjoy it. She's such a sweet young lady too.
Like I said, I've never seen West Side Story so these different voices don't bother me at all.

JaneGS said...

I really want to love Kiss Me Kate, but I don't! Except for Brush Up Your Shakespeare, it's rather tedious.

Actually a pretty fun Shakespeare musical is Love's Labours Lost--didn't get great reviews, but I really enjoyed it.

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

JaneGS - Yes, Kiss Me Kate isn't my favorite musical. There were some fun things but I didn't love it.
I've never seen Love's Labours Lost, I'll have to check it out.

~Miss Laurie

Bethany said...

I did not enjoy "Westside Story" and I do not believe it was true to what Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet. I am, however, not a huge musical basically if the story doesn't work I can't stand the music either. lol.

I do think it would be interesting to hear Haley Westenra sing some of these pieces, just because I love her voice. I'm not sure who I would cast in the roles. Most singers from that age of musicals really don't appeal to me (voice quality etc...). So maybe we do need something drastically different. Perhaps based on voice quality and not just average.

I've never heard of "Kiss Me Kate". Thanks for the post. Really enjoyed it!

Miss Pickwickian

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