Friday, February 15, 2008


Since I’m still in that Valentine’s Day mood, I’d like to talk briefly about infatuation. I’m sure it has happened to you that you go to a show or to a movie and an actress or actor immediately strikes your fancy. Sometimes it’s a physical thing (OK, maybe most of the time it’s a physical thing) but oftentimes it’s the way he/she moves or sings or looks smolderingly at the camera.

Just last week, I had that kind of reaction twice while at the theater. Liz Blake in “Measure for Measure” is certainly beautiful (actually, she’s probably beautiful even when she’s NOT in M4M) but I think I really became enchanted during the scene when she first goes to see Angelo. She walks into his presence and reacts humbly and deferentially as if she’s entering some magnificent royal hall. It was a great little acting detail that indicated to me that she was much more than a pretty face.

Then at “Rumplestiltskin’s Daughter,” I thought Gigi Galiffa was absolutely the bee’s knees. Of course, she is extremely cute. But it’s also just wonderfully refreshing to see a young female protagonist who is forthright and confident without there being an edge of guilt or guile about her. Most of the women I love and respect in real life are like that, but in the movies and on the stage strong women tend to be saddled with ulterior motives or deep-seeded fears or just a sizable streak of bitchiness in order to make them more dramatic.

But the real inspiration for me writing this is that last night I had the strange and wonderful experience of totally getting a crush on Laura Linney (OK, renewing a crush on Laura Linney) because of the way she sings a cute little song on a collection called “Philadelphia Chickens.” I’ve heard this CD numerous times – my kids have listened to it off and on over the years while going to sleep. But I heard her rendition of “Please, Can I Keep It” with fresh ears last night or something because I realized that she puts as much of her astounding acting prowess into that little song as I’ve ever seen her put into a performance on the big screen. It’s a great reminder of what an vital and versatile tool an actor's voice can be. If you’ve never heard it, it’s definitely worth a listen.


Grant Mudge said...

Dear Dave,

We're quite enamored with her, too! Liz not only transcends the more typical 'Hollywoodized' sense of modern beauty, she's also a really terrific actor, and best of all, a wonderful person with whom to work. It's a privilege to think of her as a friend as well as a colleague.

It was a rare treat to perform with her last year in "Twelfth Night;" her performances as Viola, Miranda and now Isabella/Escalus have been just marvellous.

She and Dave White are examples of excellent actors with great training getting the chance to sink their teeth into fantastic parts both in our summer festival at Agecroft and in the Oct-Apr season in the Chapel at 2nd Pres., much the way Shakespeare's own company would have done. (Dave and Liz return to the 2Pres chapel in Measure for Measure through March 2)

Audiences might recall Dave not only from that Twelfth Night, but also this past summer's "Tempest" in which he played Caliban (opposite Liz's Miranda); so too, they might recall him from our two-actor "Doctor Faustus," which was directed by Andrew Hamm, our current Angelo in "Measure." Check out Andrew's RS blog from yesterday on Angelo, it's fun:

Incidentally, that "Faustus" was adapted by Jeff Watkins, of the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta, whom we just saw last month in Cedar City, UT, at the annual Shakespeare Theatre Association of America conference, hosted by Utah Shakes.

Really glad you enjoyed their work. Tonight's show is sold out, but there are seats available for tomorrow's 2:30pm and for the upcoming 2nd half of the run.

-Grant Mudge
Artistic Director
Richmond Shakespeare

Andrew Hamm said...

I can vouch for the fact that Liz Blake is beautiful in every way that a human being can be, on or off the stage.