The Academy Award-winner whose secret nuptials were partially exposed in this column last week was none other than Old Fashion Love Songmeister, Paul Williams. The logistics of tying the knot must get easier with every take (this is Williams’ third aisle-boogie): despite a rainy day and Monday, Williams rushed from his plane to Virginia (no waiting time) for a marriage license and then dashed allegro to Washington’s Mansion on O for a Valentine Day’s hitching to girlfriend of a year-and-a-half, Mariana Hastings. Paul’s keyboard player, Chris Caswell, stood in as best man at the private ceremony in the Mansion’s famed Penthouse. Afterward, the composer sang for his supper, performing for his betrothed and guests. Here’s to the happy couple!
On Shakespeare and Love:
It’s not often that two Oscar winners are in Washington on the same evening for separate occasions. Actor F. Murray Abraham (“Amadeus”), in a conversation about Shakespeare at the Corcoran with Shakespeare Guild president, John Andrews, spiced up his remarks with romantic thoughts for Valentine’s Day. When asked what his onscreen lover, Sophia Loren (in Lina Wertmuller’s soon-to-be-released film, “Enough Romance, It’s Time For Stuffed Peppers”) has that is so special, Abraham grinned and replied: “Life.”
Back to Shakespeare: Abraham said, “I approach Shakespeare as a performer, not as a scholar.” In town to talk about his first book, Midsummer Night’s Dream, (a thin volume at 65 pages), and its protagonist, Bottom, Abraham contends, “Something about Shakespeare for me is very personal. It insists on the best from you. It’s always fresh and challenging.” Abraham said: “To analyze Bottom is to analyze acting. For me, that’s the bottom line.”
He may not approach Shakespeare as a scholar, but the actor does teach, as he did at Catholic University Monday: “it lets me know what I don’t know.” Abraham continued, “The only way to really function as an actor is to examine the feelings of the character [you’re playing] in yourself. If you play Lady Macbeth, examine what it would feel like to kill your own child. You find out amazing things about yourself by pretending to be someone else.” That’s a damned spot to be in or out.”
This spring, Abraham travels to yonder East (Tel Aviv) to shoot a modern version of “Romeo and Juliet.” In the film, he’ll have a thick Palestinian accent and will be blind, and in preparation for the role, he’s been feeling his way around his apartment wearing white opaque contact lenses.
Mel and jolly
“There’s no one smarter. It’s like electricity coming out of his brain,” gushed Tony Award-winning choreographer Susan Stroman about actor Nathan Lane the other evening at the Kennedy Center. Stroman’s currently collaborating with Mel Brooks on the film version of the musical, “The Producers.” “The camera for me acts like another dancer,” she explains. But there are budget constraints as well, and dancers don’t hoof it for cheap. “Mel has money in the movie. He tells me, ‘Susan, order pie but not pie a la mode.'” Her dream is to work with Tom Stoppard or Sam Shepherd: “But that’s darker work,” she said. “Right now, people want happier shows.” Get thee to the funnery.