Shortly before my fortieth birthday, Dan was walking to work and on his route, he passed by the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. As he passed the venue, he overheard that tickets had just gone on sale for a Bill Murray show in November. Really knowing nothing about the show, other than it involved "cool as a cucumber" Bill Murray and that tickets were expected to sell out within minutes, he got out his credit card.
I'm not sure what I imagined that my husband would give me for my big 40 birthday, but I would have never guessed tickets to this show. We didn't look up the details and went in blind to what ended up being an amazing and unexpected evening of American music and literature. We moved back to California last summer, so it ended up being a whole birthday trip (3 months after my birthday) to Portland. And as regular readers know, I'm still wrapping up my Portland posts from that week, but this one has good timing; as I'm returning to Portland for another mini-vacation tomorrow. A week of celebrating Valentine's day with my husband, browsing at Powell's, and catching up on movies at my favorite Regal cinema in downtown.
Back to Bill...
Dan really scored with amazing seats. We were close enough to the stage that no one looked blurry, even without my glasses. Here was our view, taken without a zoom. Murray stood at that music stand for a majority of the show. So close!
The show included four performers: Bill Murray ( singing and reading passages from famous literary works), Jan Vogler (Cello), Mira Wang (Violin), and Vanessa Perez (Piano). Going in, it would be easy to think that Murray was going to be the big draw, but all four performers were equally talented, contributing their own share of energy and unique style to the show. This was truly an ensemble piece.
All of the content was from American authors and composers, but it was diverse and eclectic. Sometimes taking a very dark tone, sometimes playful and silly. I think most audience members would say that Murray singing a trio of songs from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story was one of the most memorable moments of the night, even including a timely political jab regarding Puerto Rico, by ending mid-way through the song America. If you don't remember the lyrics to the song, go check them out. It garnered a lot of applause.
My favorite piece was a reading of a short story by James Thurber, If Grant had Been Drinking at Appomattox. I had not read it before and it was unexpected and humorous. Murray has great delivery.
New Worlds was one of the best live-theater events that I have ever had the pleasure to attend. It was the perfect birthday present- Thank you Dan! The show is still on tour, but if you don't have the opportunity to see it live, you can listen to the audio recording of some of the pieces. Well worth the time and money.