A Full Cast Musical Audiobook -- Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Price = $19.00
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--- ISBN 978-0-9820380-0-0
SHAKESPEARE sings! A Musical Play about the Life and Loves of William Shakespeare.
[Adult - adaptation] Originally performed 2005.
Edited by: Robert Mansell
Music by: Robert Mansell
A stereo Recording
Shakespeare's intriguing life and death is highlighted by his scandalous love for a 'dark lady' and a 'man right fair'. The listener is transported back to Elizabethan England where the musical is centered on London's colourful world of street markets, taverns and the royal palaces of Queen Elizabeth 1st and King James 1st; with a dramatic climax at the fiery destruction of Shakespeare's beloved Globe Theatre.
Mansell's sparkling songs, romantic music, and clever dialogue (incorporating actual phrases from Shakespeare's works), brings refreshing life to the Bard's story. This musical audiobook is an ideal addition to the catalogues of all libraries, universities and schools, as well as to theatre-lovers and fans of Shakespeare's sonnets everywhere.
Insert Booklet .pdf
Spoken text recorded at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center Sarasota, Florida.
Songs recorded at live performances at the Players Theatre Sarasota, Florida.
Robert Frederick Mansell was born in London, England. He has resided in America for the last twenty five years. He started writing music almost as soon as he began to play the piano at the age of nine. His music is nearly all traditionally tonal, but perhaps somewhat difficult to play because it is so chomatically rich.
Mansell's instrumental works include a 'Concert Fantasy in F minor' for solo piano and 'Two Entradas' for guitar. He has written much religious music, including his most popular piece: a setting of 'The Lord's Prayer'. His large amount of choral and vocal music includes a song cycle 'Songs of Love and Death' based upon Shakespeare's Sonnets. His stage music includes a musical, as yet unproduced, called 'Marlene' about, of course, Marlene Dietrich; and for the last several years he has been working on his magnum opus: 'William-S' about the life, loves and death of William Shakespeare.
Robert was one of the founding contributors to the reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, which was spearheaded by Sam and Zoe Wanamaker. His contribution is commemorated by one of the paving stones at the entrance to the theatre.
Q: When did you get the idea for 'Willm-S' and how long before its debut?
A: The original idea was conceived quite a long time ago - maybe even 15 years ago. Certainly it was before 1995, because by that time I had finished the first draft of Act 1. There are many problems in writing a musical - even after you have had a general idea. In this case it was even more difficult than usual because one was writing about a very famous person - certainly the most famous playwright ever to have lived. You can be in China or Africa or South America and say 'Shakespeare' and they will say: Ah yes: "To be or not to be"! That means that you can't be too careless with the truth. In this particular case one of the biggest problems is trying to decide what is in fact the truth. Strange to say, but Shakespeare's life is shrouded in mystery. There are only about six established facts about him that are indisputable - and even those are so confusing or strange that they are hard to explain.
How can someone so famous have been such an enigma? Well, it could of course be that he wanted it that way - 'don't ask don't tell' could be a modern equivalent?! But some 'facts' are just very strange indeed. The first fact that is known about him is the date of his christening (not his birth). From that record (and even that is a 17th century copy of the original parish register, now lost, not even the original document) it has been calculated that his birth was the 23rd of April 1564 - although, in 1564 the calendar was still the Julian (it didn't change to the Gregorian until 1582) and so it wasn't really even that date at all - but that's a whole other issue! Nothing more is known until 18 years later when the register of the Bishop of Worcester records the issuing of a special marriage license for William Shakespeare and Anne Whately of Temple Grafton - note that this is NOT Anne Hathaway of Shottery, who he definitely did marry some weeks later (although there is no physical record of their actual marriage).
The rest of Shakespeare's mysterious life is no less curious - and an enormous number of volumes have been filled with endless conjecture about the possible circumstances of his life. It is doubtful whether anything will ever be known with any less uncertainty than it is today.
Anyway, suffice it to say that, after a great deal of research, I did come up with the basis of a story - although it was quite unlike the final form of the book of the show! Countless rewrites later, we have ended up with a story-line that I like and am prepared to support with reasoned arguments if necessary.
Q: Tell us about the process of casting the musical:
A: The casting of a musical is a difficult process. It is hard enough to find actors who are appropriate for whatever part you are trying to cast - but when you have to find people who not only can act but can sing and dance as well, you can see that it becomes a real problem. Here we had a large number of major parts to fill. I was blessed with a director for the stage production, Bob Trisolini, who has a very fine reputation and the most excellent instincts - so he knew exactly what was wanted and had been around locally long enough that he knew a lot of people who would audition. We were fortunate with our choice for Shakespeare - quite obviously the most difficult and important part to cast. Bob had discovered him working at another local theatre and immediately called me and suggested that I must go and hear him because he was quite sure that he was what we wanted. Well I did go and was indeed very impressed, but I still took quite a bit of persuading because Xander Chauncey was much younger than I had been imagining. In this musical Shakespeare ages from a young man of 23 through to his death at 52, some 29 years later - and I wasn't sure whether the glamorous handsome young man that Xander unquestionably is could also play well enough as an old man on his deathbed. Trisolini was adamant that a strong physical sexual appeal of the star of a show was most important - and so it proved, especially since Xander has a most appealing singing voice in the right vocal register for the part (which is another huge complication in casting a musical - not only do you have to find people who can act, sing and dance - but they even also have to sing in the right register!).
Apart from the large number of people required, which was in itself rather daunting, the rest of the casting came fairly easily - especially since I had been mentally auditioning various actors and actresses with whom I had been acting on stage over the previous few years.
Q: What are your aspirations for 'Willm-S'?
A: Obviously we want and indeed expect to see it go to Broadway and to the West End of London.
The show received its first workshop (although this was only of Act 1) under the very famous, but somewhat eccentric, director Robert Wilson at his Theatrical Development Workshop in Water Mill, Long Island, New York in September of 2000. After this, Act 1 was basically solidified and has really changed very little since then - other than being somewhat shortened. Act 2 still had to come together, which took a while. Then finally the whole show was premiered in Sarasota, Florida in September 2005 to an outstanding reception. We do strongly believe that the wide publication of this audiobook will do much to propel the show to the ultimate goal of a production on Broadway and in the West End of London. And I must say that the whole-hearted faith of the publishers in the success of this audiobook publication has been a great support to me through the difficulties of recording and editing the show to try and give listeners something of the feel of the whole visual spectacle of the actual stage production.
"World Premiere of Willm-S draws standing ovation!"
"Willm-S is everything one would want to see in a musical. Suspenseful drama along with comedy was
replete throughout the show . . . the audience was enthralled . . . an original and creative musical spectacular."
Sandy Cooperman, in Charlotte Sun Herald (8th September 2005)
"Players earn standing ovation for superb Willm-S!"
"I have never seen better on any local stage. Willm-S is an elaborate spectacle; pageantry at its best . . .
Music, scenery and costumes approach magnificent . . . You will be amazed by death, torture and the
unforgettable burning of the Globe Theatre . . . There was no member of the creative team that didn't deliver
the absolute best . . . the standing ovation at the end, along with the comments I overheard, attested to that
fact . . . Mansell and Trisolini have created a masterpiece."
Kay Pruden, in the Bradenton Herald (8th September 2005)
"Willm-S is one of the biggest shows of any season!"
"Filled with color, costumes, exquisite sets, perfect choreography, beautiful music and, most of all, talent.
The show's stage was filled with energy . . . and playwright Mansell's words sprang to life as the
audience was taken through political intrigue and romance."
Marjorie North, in the Sarasota Herald Tribune (11th September 2005)
"Willm-S - a lavish impressive musical production!"
"This glittering production may have been the most lavish presented in Sarasota during the ten years that I
have been writing about the theatre . . . An amazing production on a grand scale in scope, size and
creativity . . . The show richly deserves to be seen again in whatever venue it finds."
Wayne Barcombe, in the Pelican Press (15th September 2005)
"Willm-S even better the second time!" (note: Yes, she actually came to see it twice!)
"Willm-S is as close to being ready for the big time as a play could be at its world premiere. It has everything
expected in a hit show - intriguing story, great music, words you want to sing along with and a brilliant set and
costumes . . . Mansell is a skilled musician; he doesn't just introduce a theme and then forget it; he brings it
back, embellishes it and then manages to find just the right words so that the finished piece is a keeper, one
that the audience want to keep with us long after the show is over. Willm-S should make it for the long haul; it
is filled with keepers - keeper songs, keeper scenes, keeper costumes, settings and meaty parts all
enveloped in wonderful music. . . Keep the name of this musical at the front of your mind.
It will be back someday, somewhere."
Kim Cool, in the Venice Gondolier (14th September 2005)
"Willm-S breathes life into the playwright!"
"An extravaganza showcasing extraordinary talent, sparkling songs, beautiful scenery and a brilliant concept
which breathes life into the great playwright and poet. The scenery and projections would be hailed as brilliant
on any Broadway stage . . . Gripping, smart, creative and honest . . . Too long, but the time flew by . . .
When the curtain finally fell I fell in love with Shakespeare all over again."
June LeBell, in the Longboat, Osprey, and Siesta Key Observers (22nd September 2005)
Willm-S Press Release .pdf
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Audiobook is in immediately downloadable MP3 format.
Size = 96Mb. A broadband connection is recommended.
Also available as a 2-CD set (with 8 page insert), ISBN: 978-0-9820380-0-0
Audience = Adult 16+
Fiction Subject = Adaptation
BIC = AVGM (Musicals)
DDC = 792 (Arts and recreation / Recreational & performing arts / Stage presentations)
BISAC = MUS046000 (MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Musicals)
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