Britweek 2018 and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts presented “A Shakespeare Jubilee,” which was a powerful, poetic paeon to the brilliant William Shakespeare and David Garrick, the greatest actor of his time. Each actor in this multi talented star-studded ensemble represented a piece of Shakespeare in his/her own right.
To start off the show, co-hosts Joely Fisher and Ioan Gruffudd recited Sonnet #29. “For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings, that then I scorn to change my state with kings.” Suffice to say, this sonnet represents a sampling of the magnificent body of work and stands alone in the tapestried landscape of his poetry, a true world wonder. The theme of “no fear Shakespeare” continued throughout Act 1, as Joe Spano, Kitty Swink, and Lexie Helgerson provided further words of wisdom from “Much Ado About Nothing,” Act IV, scene 1. A wonderfully memorable scene, portrayed by Jamison Jones and Isabella Hofmann, from “The Taming of the Shrew,” included exquisite lines of picturesque simile: “she’s not froward, but modest as the dove/she is not hot, but temperate as the moon.” In Hamlet, Act 2, scene 2, classically trained actor Harry Hamlin, reprises his title role in Hamlet at the McCarter Theatre, and we instantly feel the sizzle and energy. In “Songs for Shakespeare,” (by John Dankworth and Cleo Laine), vocalist Sherry Williams belts “All the World’s a Stage/Blow; Blow Through Winter Wind Medley; Fear No More the Heat o’ the Sun; and If Music Be the Food of Love, accompanied by pianist John Rodby. Another beautiful touch is Michele Greene, as Lady Macbeth, in the evocative Act 1, scene 5 of Macbeth. Yet another show stealing standout was the Impro Theatre troupe of Kelly Holden Bashar; Lisa Fredrickson; Brian Michael Jones; Brian Lohmann; Dan O’Connor; Edi Patterson; Mike Rock; and Floyd VanBuskirk, performing the Nahum Tate version of King Lear, Act V scene 2.
All in all, this extravaganza was at one, a powerful serenade of life, love, loss, and new beginnings, performed by a cohesive cast. The Wallis Annenberg Center is a great example of the superb cultural offerings here in our city of angels.