Mmaybe you should be there. There is something extravagant and irresistible about the idea of an old-fashioned cultural evening with musical and spoken-word performance. Hollywood legend Bill Murray does the small literary readings and sometimes some awful singing, and he gets musical company from his friends: cellist Jan Vogler and violinist Mira Wang (married to Vogler) with Vanessa Perez on piano. James Fenimore Cooper, Hemingway and James Thurber are among those being read, and Gershwin and Schubert are among those listed.
This is the filmed footage from the last night of this show’s world tour on the Acropolis stage in Athens: their curated performance is an exuberant tribute to civilization itself. It’s an elegant, eccentric evening in many ways, and perhaps only Murray’s participation could have made it happen or sold tickets. To me, the sound mix sounded off, so Murray’s vocals were often almost inaudible to the accompaniment, but maybe it sounded just fine live. His singing, especially in the touching Scottish ballads, is heartfelt, though it is probably best heard with a glass or two of malt under his belt. Occasionally we were close to Florence Foster Jenkin’s territory – that is, the high society singer portrayed by Meryl Streep. But the moment Murray steps down from the stage to tango with Wang is startling and quite stylish on the part of both dancers.
The best touch comes after Murray has performed a lengthy reading from Cooper and then admits that the audience might be bored and wonder if it’s not too late to show up and get some moussaka. To be honest, that moussaka feeling is never that far away. The uniqueness of the event averts the hunger pangs.