For our TV time after dinner tonight, I chose the 1987 movie Outrageous Fortune, starring Shelley Long and Bette Midler. I remembered this movie fondly, and it has aged well. Susan and Amy thought it was funny, and Larry stayed awake for the whole thing, which is about as high a recommendation as a movie can get in our current household.
The movie is about two aspiring actresses who live in Manhattan. I lived in Manhattan in 1987, so the scenes of city living, and in particular the wardrobe choices, really resonated with me. Those vests! Those blouses! The hair!!
Shelley Long’s character really wants to play Hamlet, and (spoiler) in the end she does. This reminded me of a production of Hamlet that I saw in Manhattan in 1987. Back in those days, we actually read posters stapled to phone poles and taped on bus stops. I guess it was our internet?
So, one day as I was walking through Greenwich Village I saw a poster advertising a production of Hamlet starring DIRK BENEDICT. I had a huge crush on Dirk Benedict in his Battlestar Galactica days. I talked a friend of mine who had entertained a similar crush into attending.
For those of you my age: Dirk Benedict (Lieutenant Starbuck) or Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo)? And from Emergency! - Randolph Mantooth (Johnny) or Kevin Tighe (Roy)? And from CHiPs – Erik Estrada (Ponch) or Larry Wilcox (Jon)? I always went for the blondes.
As we made our way to our seats, I was surprised at the tiny size of the off-off-Broadway performance space. I’m not sure you could even call it a theater. Also, there was no air conditioning.
It became clear that this was a passion project for Dirk, who probably funded the whole thing. The acting and the production were awful. Thanks to the internet, I was able to read this review all these years later.
Here’s what I remember: the show was so bad and the space was so hot that almost everyone left at intermission. My friend and I stayed just because, you know, DIRK BENEDICT. The actors were all dressed in heavy velvet costumes which led to the final scene being more comical than sad.
As the characters were killed one by one, they fell to the floor, where they audibly panted, as they were so overdressed and hot. It was hard to hear Horatio’s speech at the end because all the “corpses” were gasping for air. But, hey, Lieutenant Starbuck, so it was not a wasted evening.
A Hamlet interpretation which I love is The Sassy Gay Hamlet. Check this out, it makes me laugh every single time I watch it, which has now easily been hundreds of times.
Another Hamlet intersection: when Ellen was studying abroad in Copenhagen, the whole family went to visit, so now we’ve all been to Elsinore, the supposed setting for Hamlet.