Shakespeare Theatre Company Will Award Winner F. Murray Abraham Talks Tuxes, Speeches, Shakespeare and Even Takes a Dip
“What is it about Washington that makes everyone feel like they have to give a speech?” joked the most recent Shakespeare Theatre Company Will Award recipient, F. Murray Abraham, after he took the podium at the end of the performance-filled variety show at the Harman Center Monday evening. He mentioned his need to do a speech was squelched, and yet, he gave a talk deep with gratitude, ending with his famous Shylock “Hath not a Jew eyes” speech (Merchant of Venice).
The man is humble. He’s been in about every show and film you can imagine as a character actor (you know, being a character actor keeps you busy-he told Jason and me at the cocktail reception he was off to tape the Emmy-awarding winning Homeland) and hello, yes, he earned an Oscar for Amadeus. He’s played so many parts on stage and is the epitome of a Shakespearean actor.Â But his name isn’t household to many, I mean, it’s not like you see him all over People magazine or being stalked by paparazzi or even being chased after by E! News.Â F. Murray Abraham defines a serious actor, one that is so well respected by other serious actors that while Kevin Spacey couldn’t make the event, he sent a stunningly praising letter to honor “Murray” (as everyone was calling him).
But it’s the greats like Murray that might make you nervous to talk with him. However, he was so normal, so down to earth, when we were introduced to him, telling us anecdotes of wardrobe malfunctions (his tux shirt button kept popping off and he spent time searching for it in his hotel room floor) and tricks of the trade, pulling out double sided sticky forms that help keep his collar down.Â He even admitted “I’m not really good at these things,” nodding to the filling up cocktail reception, almost nervous at the crowd that was starting to eye-stalk him, circling around him, waiting for the right moment to pounce and congratulate him. I think he was just fine, as we left him, he was in the throngs of a conversation by admiring gala attired fans.
The show itself was another great, as usual, clipping along in a quick pace with speakers and performances from Bill Irwin, Ted van Griethuysen, the Q Brothers (a hip hop rap group who was just awesome), Jerry Stiller (who brought the house down without even trying), Lauren Flanigan, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn and more and with a special surprise finale performance by Tony-award winning Christine Ebersole, who was Murray’s co-star in Amadeus. Â
After the show, guests paraded over to the National Building Museum for dinner and dancing and may I say, I was deeply honored (and thoroughly embarrassed) to have Murray himself surprise me by swinging me around and trying to dip me. I write “trying” because my dress was a bit too tight for me to move with ease, so you can imagine the ahem-dip.Â At least I didn’t fall … but I did run after him and say, “I’m sorry! I really don’t have two left feet! I promise I don’t!”
Here’s to hoping Murray found a more formidable dance partner ….
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.