(Eric Grode’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/27; via Pam Green.)
Gone are the days when a recorder and a few desultory “hey nonny nonnys” would suffice for the musical passages in a Shakespeare production. Shaina Taub took an ebullient, slangy approach with her score for the musical “Twelfth Night,” which is playing now at the Delacorte Theater, with Ms. Taub in the role of Feste.
As with other shows in the Public Works series, this “Twelfth Night” shifts from the original text to a modern vernacular in Ms. Taub’s songs. But, as these examples show, it’s entirely possible to put your own stamp on Shakespeare while still sticking to the original text (more or less).
Kiss Me, Kate
A scene from the 1999 revival of “Kiss Me, Kate” at the Martin Beck Theater.CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times
Until and unless the line “kick him right in the Coriolanus” shows up in an as yet undiscovered quarto of “The Taming of the Shrew,” Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate” score from 1948 is, shall we say, true to Shakespeare in its fashion. But “I’ve Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua” dips in and out of the text, and Porter also took a crack at the monologue that gives contemporary “Taming” directors the most trouble, Kate’s abashed “I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple.”
The score of “Hair” found room for words from Allen Ginsberg, Abraham Lincoln, the Hare Krishna mantra and a Village Voice personal ad, so why not a bit of “Hamlet”? (The musical’s co-creator Gerome Ragni had previously appeared with Richard Burton in a Broadway revival of the play.) Two bits, actually: In addition to a few snippets in “Flesh Failures,” Galt MacDermot wrote a soaring — if occasionally mis-accented — take on “What a Piece of Work Is Man” for two tenors as they survey the carnage of war. In the score for his 1971 musical “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Mr. MacDermot used more Shakespeare, even including an “Antony and Cleopatra” monologue to comic effect.
Photo: The New York Times