Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

Got a quick start on a windy, gloomy morning with an episode of The Backyardigans. Princess CleoTasha wants to find "The Key to the Nile." The Nile has gone dry, and in order to ask Spinx Uniqua how to refill it. she must find three precious gifts. Thing is, Tasha takes being a princess very seriously. She's bossy and rude to her pages Austin, Tyrone, and Pablo. It's Uniqua who teaches Tasha that the greatest treasure is being kind and polite to others.

Today was my long day. I spent five of the six hours scrubbing the registers and around the registers. Our big open house is Friday. There were people all over the place, rearranging things, adding more displays, and seeing to last-minute details. I also gathered baskets and bagged for the last hour. There were at least three other baggers besides me, and no need to go outside.

When I got home, I went online and did a little bit of writing and a lot of messing around with Pinterest. I revised what Jabba plans to do to Han. He now simply wants to tie a rock to his ankles and let him drown in the river. The royal arrival puts a crimp on those plans, and Han is imprisoned in a large empty wine barrel.

Had dinner while watching an episode of Moonlighting. Since I'm still reading the Star Wars Shakespeare books (I'm now on The Jedi Doth Returneth), I thought I'd dig through my collection for other riffs on the Bard. "Atomic Shakespeare" from the third season is one of the most famous and creative episodes of the entire show. A young boy, disappointed he has to read The Taming of the Shrew instead of watching the show, imagines the Moonlighting characters in Elizabethan times. Dave is Petrucchio, who courts a wild Maddie Kate...but unlike the original play, these two do eventually learn that husbands and wives work best when they work together.

"Atomic Shakespeare" isn't the only version of Taming of the Shrew I own. Kiss Me Kate switches the milieu to backstage at a musical retelling of Shrew. Egotistical actor/director Fred (Howard Keel) has persuaded his ex-wife Lili (Kathryn Grayson) to join the cast as Katherine to his Petrucchio. Meanwhile, his current girlfriend (Ann Miller) is really stringing him along in order to help her gambler boyfriend (Tommy Rall). He owes a gangster a ton of money and signed Fred's name on the IOUs. The gangster sends two goofy lackeys (Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore) to collect the payment. Desperate to keep Lili from leaving the show with her new cowboy fiancee, he tells the mooks he can't pay up unless the show goes on.

Spectacular dance numbers are the thing here, including Miller's "Too Darn Hot" solo in the opening sequence, her "Tom Dick or Harry" with the boys, and the Bob Fosse-choreographed ensemble routine to "From This Moment On." Whitmore and Wynn's "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" is hilarious, and Grayson and Keel have fun with "Wunderbar." If you love Shakespeare, the cast, or MGM musicals, the dance sequences alone makes it well worth your time.

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