The Head That Wears a Crown: Speeches for Royal Men by William Shakespeare

The Head That Wears a Crown: Speeches for Royal Men by William Shakespeare

The Head That Wears a Crown: Speeches for Royal Men by William Shakespeare

Internationally acclaimed actor and Tony Award winner, Alan Cumming performs Shakespeare’s most important and beloved royal speeches, including ‘To be or not to be,’ ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,’ ‘Now is the winder of our discontent,’ ‘O that this too sullied flesh would melt’ and more. All the speeches were personally chosen by Cumming. Michael Boyd adds, ‘Cumming brings to Shakespeare the lyricism of a genuine singer, the sharp edge of a wicked comic, and the embodied intelligence of a major actor.’

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Astonishingly Gifted Alan Cumming Is the Head Wearing a Crown!, April 4, 2013
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Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) –
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Few people there who do not know the name of Alan Cumming form his many roles as a character actors in films and television, but this extraordinary actor from Scotland began his career as a Shakespearean actor and there are few actors who match his versatility and magical, musical delivery of Shakespeare’s lines. He trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and his first professional engagement was as Malcolm in Macbeth at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre, directed by Michael Boyd. To quote Cumming, `The first Shakespeare play I ever read was Macbeth, when my high school class studied it. My older brother had told me how exciting it was, and when it was my turn to read it I was truly mesmerized by its combination of the supernatural, human frailty and…Scotland! I truly couldn’t believe that Shakespeare was writing, all those years before, about places that I knew and even visited regularly. I was disappointed to discover that not all of his plays were set in my back yard! But that initial personal connection I felt as a young boy has never left me.’

This fresh new recoding is simply Cumming offering twenty two excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays – roles he has either performed in the past or has plans to perform in the future – and in these excerpts we are transported into the entire play, so rich in character building and vocal manipulation is Cumming’s voice and manner. His manner of delivery borders on musical as though he were offering arias from operas as opposed to words form the theater. Even as with his many roles on film with which the world audience is familiar Cumming enhances the interpretations with his unique, unapologetic, exhilarating approach: in every sense, in every passage he assumes the character whose words he is delivering so that we are completely transported to the magical stage of Shakespeare’s stories. As one critic posed, `Cumming’s spoken performances reveal something deeper in neurosis, self-loathing and hating, paranoia and pathology; something that hits you instantly, and without question, theatrically.’

The offerings on this magnificently recorded collection are as follows:

O for a Muse of fire (Chorus from Henry V)
Now is the winter of our discontent (Richard III)
You common cry of curs! (Coriolanus)
I have been studying how I may compare This prison (Richard II)
Look here, upon this picture (Hamlet)
Mad world! mad kings! mad composition! (Bastard from King John)
If it were done when `tis done (Macbeth)
Go call the Earls of Surrey and of Warwick; (Henry IV from Henry IV Part 2)
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; (Henry V)
To be, or not to be: that is the question; (Hamlet)
What must the king do now? (Richard II)
Methinks I am a prophet new inspired (John of Gaunt from Richard II)
Why, lords, what wrongs are these! (Saturninus from Titus Andronicus)
O that this too too sullied flesh would melt, (Hamlet)
Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile, (Duke Senior from As You Like It)
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, (Macbeth)
What’s he that wishes so? (Henry V)
Hear, Nature, hear! (King Lear)
How all occasions do inform against me, (Hamlet)
Let me speak, sir, (Cranmer from Henry VIII)
If music be the food of love, play on; (Duke Orsino from Twelfth Night)
Now my charms are all o’erthrown, (Prospero from The Tempest)

This is one of the more exciting and stimulating recordings to appear this year and is certain to be in line for Grammy awards. This is as fine as Shakespeare gets and Cumming wears this crown with honor and dignity. Grady Harp, April 13

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Compelling, April 19, 2013
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You cannot help but feel that Alan Cumming was born to give voice to Shakespeare. A virtuoso interpretation of the bard.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Alan Cumming can do ANYTHING, and this recording proves it., April 19, 2013
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Alan’s range of performances are nothing short of remarkable. As commented by Grady Harp’s earlier review, the words are lyrical and transport you instantly into one of Shakespeare’s worlds.

A MUST MUST HAVE for any collector or fan.

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