May 18, 2018
Bill Murray will continue to live his best life by reciting Walt Whitman in a Greek amphitheatre
by Tom Clayton
Join me now as we journey through the mists of time to 1979. A long, hot summer is in full, ahem, swing. Caddyshack, the cult screwball golfing comedy, is being filmed. It’s quite likely that Rodney Dangerfield is in the vicinity telling somebody about how he don’t get no respect. And hip young SNL star Bill Murray is lying on the green of a pristine golf course, working on the scene in which his character, groundskeeper Carl Spackler, encounters his nemesis, the gopher, emerging from the ground for the first time. As you’ll no doubt remember, he is required to reason with a pretty ropey gopher puppet and menace it with a water hose. It’s sweltering, and his camouflage fishing hat is not providing quite enough shelter from the rays. It’s only his second major film, and he’s only down for six days on set, improvising lines as he goes. (That’s right. He. Improvised. Every. Line. In. Caddyshack.) As he resets with the hose for another take, what thoughts can have been going through his head? We’ll never know. But it’s fair to say it probably wasn’t:
“Don’t worry, Bill. This film will be a hit, as will most of your films for the next thirty years. You’ll be reciting Walt Whitman in a Greek amphitheatre before you know it.”
Yep, the latest of Bill’s heartwarmingly eclectic and seemingly endless late-career adventures is an ambitious spoken-word-and-classical-music crossover project, titled New Worlds, for the prestigious Athens and Epidaurus Festival, as Anthony Grant reports at Forbes this week. In typical Murray style, the actor cooked up the idea with world-renowned cellist Jan Vogler, whom he met by chance on a Transatlantic flight last year. They’ll play a one-night-only show at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a second-century stone theatre at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, on June 19th.
The two discuss the project in this video trailer, which also sees Murray singing America from West Side Story and It Ain’t Necessarily So from Porgy and Bess. The two will be joined by violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez and, besides singing Bernstein numbers, Murray will also be reading from several American greats including Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and Walt Whitman (Melville authors all). As a visibly enthused Murray says in the trailer, “The music is so strong, and the words are so strong… I’m so excited for people to see it.” If that’s not enough to make you want to pack your bags for Athens, I don’t know what is. And, well, it might be a stretch to suggest that Murray is doing wonders for US-Europe relations in the process… but I don’t see anyone doing a better job at the moment.
Tom Clayton is the publishing executive at Melville House UK.