Celebrating 5 Years

Much ado about Lyle Lovett

I had the good for­tune to see Lyle Lovett from the sec­ond row of Toronto’s Roy Thom­son Hall. nullDur­ing the show he men­tioned a con­nec­tion to Shake­speare, that I hadn’t pre­vi­ously heard about.

As you know Shake­speare often added music to his plays because, as Lovett put it, “it’s good show business.”

What I learned at the con­cert is that in 2010 Lovett com­posed and per­formed orig­i­nal music for the pro­duc­tion of Much Ado About Noth­ing at The Shake­speare Cen­ter of Los Ange­les. The play, sans Lovett, is on the play­bill at the Strat­ford Shake­speare Fes­ti­val, the inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized fes­ti­val located about 90 min­utes from Toronto.

Onstage in Toronto Lovett told the story of how direc­tor Ben Donen­berg approached him to write and per­form music in Donenberg’s pro­duc­tion of Much Ado About Nothing.

As well as cast­ing Lovett in the play, Don­nen­berg cast Helen Hunt, of TV’s “Mad About You,” in the lead. In cast­ing these celebri­ties Don­nen­berg received the expected crit­i­cism about attempt­ing to “goose the vis­i­bil­ity of [the company’s] plays”, but I was delighted to see that Lovett got good reviews:

From Vari­ety:

“Lovett’s musi­cal style, three parts life affir­ma­tion to two parts melan­choly, is ide­ally suited to Shakespeare’s ron­de­lay of roman­tic misunderstanding”

[Lovett’s] sober, seen-it-all demeanor dove­tails per­fectly with a tale in which will­ful lovers are sys­tem­at­i­cally deceived, even to the point of a maiden’s feigned death, until a kiss finally purges all pain to the strains of a mandolin. ”

From The Orange County Reg­is­ter:

[Lovett and his band] per­form a com­bi­na­tion of stan­dards such as Dave Frishberg’s “Peel Me a Grape” and songs com­posed by Lovett that com­ment slyly on the action. Always a strangely mag­netic and engag­ing per­former, Lovett brings wel­come moments of con­tem­pla­tion, humor and some­times grav­i­tas. He’s one of the production’s best features.

Lovett, more than Hunt, makes this show worth seeing.

The Strat­ford 2013 play­bill fea­tures a few musi­cals, includ­ing Tommy.

Will the com­pany mem­bers return­ing from Broad­way get the top spots? This blog post pon­tif­i­cates on some of the poten­tial casting.