Hamlet with Oscar Isaac

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(A Poe fo Show)

Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) stars as the title character in this well crafted, intimate production of William Shakespeare’s longest and most powerful play, Hamlet. A timeless tale of a troubled prince who plots revenge against his uncle, who murdered his father in exchange for the throne and his mother.

Directed by Tony Award winner Sam Gold, this 4 hour production of the life and death tragedy is performed at The Public Theater – a Shakespeare Workshop in New York City. It was founded in the mid-1950s by Joseph Papp. A place where up-and-coming playwrights and performers are able to showcase their work.

The Anspacher Theater, one of the chambers within The Public, is where Hamlet is featured. Although, you won’t find your typical, escalated stage here. Instead, there’s a small raised step in the background, primarily used as an actor “bullpen,” and for prop storage. The performance space is mostly the flat surface of the theater’s red carpeted floor, surrounded by a semicircle of 275 seats.

The space is tighter than what you might expect, yet very cozy. That’s what made this particular experience so special.

If you’re unfamiliar with the work, you certainly might recognize many of Hamlet’s poetic lines, recited in film and television. The original Star Trek, for instance, made numerous references to the play – usually spoken by Bones, and then called out by Spock. The sixth film was even subtitled The Undiscovered Country, which is said in the famous “to be or not to be” monologue (Act III, Scene I). Or, perhaps you’re familiar with that iconic image of Hamlet holding the skull of poor Yorick, a fellow of infinite jest.

Classic quotes and images aside, you might also assume the play is dressed with armored knights and such. After all, it does take place during the Middle Ages, in and around a royal palace in Elsinore, Denmark. Nevertheless, it’s been interpreted many different ways, using many different eras.

This particular interpretation of the Shakespearean classic, here in New York, is unique. It requires your imagination, as the actors project their superb talents in selected casual attire, while using limited props and no backdrop scenery. A sturdy folding table, flowers, dirt, wine bottles & glasses are the extent of what you’ll see. A 21st century sight with 400-year-old dialogue.

Hamlet (Isaac) is seen mostly in a black t-shirt and hoodie, an occasional gray sweater, and sometimes a dark pair of sweatpants. In the middle of the play, when his lunacy escalates, the troubled prince bounces off the imaginary walls in his black underwear. A sight all the ladies in my party certainly enjoyed; however, it portrayed the character in his appropriate idle state.

Horatio, portrayed humorously by Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele), wore a short sleeved polo shirt and jeans.

Claudius, the King of Denmark, played by Ritchie Coster (The Dark Knight), wore what appeared to be a light gray linen suit and black t-shirt. When he switched to play the ghost of Hamlet’s murdered father, he removed the blazer and t-shirt.

Ophelia, played by Gayle Rankin, wore a dark blouse and skirt. Her father, the king’s chief counselor, Polonius (Peter Friedman) was the most formal in a three piece suit and tie. He is also the father of Laertes (Anatol Yusef), who wore an open short-sleeve button down and t-shirt…

As for the remaining talented cast… Matthew Saldivar portrayed Guildenstern in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts; Charlayne Woodard wore a stunning purple dress as Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude; and Roberta Colindrez appeared to be quite comfortable in her jogging suit, as Rosencrantz.

To compliment all of the above was an original music score, composed and performed by Dutch musician Ernst Reijseger. Setup in the corner of that small raised platform, Ernst delivered subtle, eerie music from a cello and wooden pipe organ – with the occasional accompaniment of wooden pipes, performed by the cast. This also marked the first time I’ve witnessed someone pluck cello strings in a guitar-like fashion. Something Ernst displayed throughout the show, whenever the mood called for something more cheerful.

We may have missed him at Star Wars Celebration – most likely due to his preparations for Hamlet but, after a few moments of patience by devoted fans – mostly flailing fan-girls, like my girlfriend and her sister – we met the star himself. Oscar Isaac entered the lobby shortly after the show ended and, humble and kind gentleman that he is, greeted each and every one of us.

The sold-out show began its run on June 20, 2017 and is scheduled to end on September 3rd.

Within this wall of cyber flesh, there is a soul that counts thee its creditor very much for reading. In other words, thanks for reading.

Farewell for now,

Mike Polizzi

Hans Zimmer: Live from New York

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This week, everybody’s favorite film composer – next to John Williams and Danny Elfman – visited New York City.

Hans Zimmer has enriched many films with his intense, beautiful music. The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, The Lion King, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies are only a fraction of what this genius has done. He’s composed music for at least 150 films since the 1980s, but I first noticed his talent in the early 1990s, during my adolescent years. I noticed his score for Backdraft (1991), which was also used in the trailer for Jurassic Park (1993). From that point, I knew to keep my ears out for whatever he delivered next.

In 1995, the German film score composer captured more than my ears. He seized my heart with his powerful music from Crimson Tide. That epic theme, the track titled Roll Tide, still gives me the thrills and chills today. Earlier this week, I got to experience that track live at Radio City Music Hall, along with many other favorites.

On April 9th, while briefly thumbing through Twitter, I came across Hans Zimmer’s tweet about touring in North America for the very first time. Literally seconds later, I purchased myself a ticket. The choices for New York were either July 25th (Tuesday) or 26th (Wednesday).

I chose the 25th, as it was the final day of my summer “staycation,” and, damn, what a way to end a vacation! The concert was absolutely epic. The lighting effects were phenomenal. The musicians were just WOW!

Like a rockstar, Hans Zimmer led his musicians without a conductor. They did it rock band style, but with strings, brass, and a choir – in addition to the percussion, synthesizers, guitars, and electric cello. Zimmer bounced around stage with a banjo for his Sherlock Holmes theme; his guitar for Gladiator; the synthesizer for Crimson Tide; the piano for Inception

Speaking personally, as a guy who grew-up as a film score enthusiast, as well as someone who composes music for independent films, this was the best concert I’ve ever experienced! And, I also attended Danny Elfman’s Music from the films of Tim Burton concert a couple of years prior (that, too, was amazing). But, this one… Hans Zimmer Live… This was an exciting 3-hours.

The theater went dark at 8pm sharp. The spotlights shined on the enormous stage. What followed was what I like to call Hans Zimmer’s Greatest Hits:

  1. Driving (from Driving Miss Daisy); Discombobulate (from Sherlock Holmes); Zoosters Breakout (from Madagascar)
  2. Roll Tide (from Crimson Tide)
  3. 160 bpm (from Angels & Demons)
  4. The Gladiator Suite (The Wheat; The Battle; Elysium; Now We Are Free)
  5. Chevaliers de Sangreal (from The Da Vinci Code)
  6. The Lion King Suite, featuring Lebo M himself (Circle of Life; This Land; King of Pride Rock)
  7. The Pirates of the Caribbean Suite (Jack Sparrow; One Day; Up Is Down; He’s a Pirate)
    • INTERMISSION
  8. You’re So Cool (from True Romance)
  9. Main Theme (from Rain Man)
  10. What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving the World? (from Man of Steel)
  11. Is She With You? (Wonder Woman Theme, from Dawn of Justice)
  12. Journey to the Line (from The Thin Red Line)
  13. The Electro Suite (from The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
  14. The Dark Knight Trilogy Suite (Why So Serious?; Like a Dog Chasing Cars; Why Do We Fall?; Introduce a Little Anarchy…)
    • After Introduce a Little Anarchy, Hans abandoned his synthesizer and approached the microphone at center stage. We expected him to deliver another short speech, as he did throughout the show, in between medleys. But, instead, he began to chant, “Deshi, Deshi! Basara, Basara!” He did this repeatedly, until the choir joined him, and then the orchestra… It was Bane’s Theme (from The Dark Knight Rises), which concluded the suite.
    • Hans spoke of Heath Ledger’s tragedy, and also the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.
  15. Aurora (Hans Zimmer’s musical embrace in 2012. This piece was to help raise money for the victims of the massacre in the Aurora, CO movie theater, during The Dark Knight Rises premiere)
  16. The Interstellar Suite (Day One; Where We’re Going; No Time for Caution; Stay)
    • He said goodnight after this, and then the theater illuminated. Some people began to leave, but most of us “stayed” – like the last track instructed. Finally, the perfect ending to a perfect concert followed. The lights dimmed once again for…
  17. The Inception Suite (Dream is Collapsing; Mombasa; Time)

The concert ended at 11pm and I hurried back to Penn Station, to catch my midnight train home.

Hans Zimmer, along with his amazing musicians, rocked New York!

Bravo!

Mike Polizzi

Pizza Twirling Thru My Mind

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I had a free day and I missed trekking through New York City. So, I decided to take a spontaneous trip to Manhattan. But, to do what exactly?

A month or two prior, my girlfriend, Maria, played a YouTube video for me. It was (is) titled $2 Pizza vs. $2,000 Pizza – New York City, and it was uploaded by BuzzFeedVideo. The $2 pizza was purchased at Joe’s Pizza, in Greenwich Village. Of course, they loved it. Of course, I wanted it.

I lost a lot of weight over the years by simply avoiding – or, rather, extremely limiting – simple carbs, like bagels, bread, crackers, biscuits, and my ultimate favorite food, next to shrimp, pizza!

Long story short, I had a burning desire to try Joe’s Pizza ever since that video. So, I finally made it happen, and I made a video of my own.

I owe credit to Maria, and my friend Cheri (her sister), for “the lyrics” in this 1-minute music video. I’m sure many of you will recognize the song, and I’m sure many of you will want to grab a slice.

Bon appétit!