He won an Oscar for his portrayal of tormented composer Antonio Salieri in Amadeus, and this August actor F. Murray Abraham will tug at the heart strings of animal lovers as he steps into the role of a old, dying dog, singing the words of playwright Eugene O’Neill’s “The Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O’Neill” during the Woof Fest concert series.
“It’s a fabulous role, and I happen to love dogs,” said F. Murray Abraham, in an interview with All Animals Magazine about the part. “When you play an animal, there are no limits to what you can do. I’ve played vicious sharks of people and snakes in the grass, but never a dog—such a lovable animal. I have to work at not weeping when I am singing this—because it’s hard to cry and sing at the same time.”
Taking place in Philadelphia on August 24th, Woof Fest will be a night on dogged devotion, combining music, videos and pictorial tributes to all our tail-wagging chums past and present, from the cartoon canines and movie dogs who have entertained us to service dogs, therapy dogs, rescue dogs and the family Fido.
Backed by more than 80 members of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the creator of the first symphony for Spots– Maestro Steven Mercurio, who has composed arrangements for such high-profile performers as Sting, Andrea Bocelli and Placido Domingo–will conduct “A Grateful Tail” as part of the dog-friendly event, which will begin with “pup culture” standards like George Gershwin’s “Walking the Dog” from the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie Shall We Dance; s tribute to working/military dogs/service dogs dubbed “Fido,” which will feature music by Beethoven,Haydn and Stephen Foster; John Alden Carpenter’s “Dogs” (from “Adventures in a Preambulator”; Elvis Presley’s “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog”; the Paul McCartney-penned salute to his Sheepdog, “Martha My Dear,” as sung by Sara Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, music performed by Icelandic arctic Yohanna, and much more.
Following the intermission, the first movement of A Grateful Tail will begin. “Siriusly – Dog Star” depicts the early stage of puppy-hood, while the second movement, “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, peacefully…” is a lyrical intermezzo bringing to life the contented, peaceful nature of a dog’s character. The third movement, or “Last Will and Testament,” is the cornerstone of the work, performed by F. Murray Abraham. The final movement of the work is “Wagging the Tail,” its uplifting samba rhythms, backed by a large gospel choir, offering a life-affirming ending which promises to leave the audience dancing in the aisles as they celebrate their love of dogs.
“I was inspired to create this symphonic tribute to dogs shortly after my beloved 15-year-old poodle succumbed to old age,” said Maestro Steven Mercurio. “A sympathetic friend sent me a copy of Eugene O’Neill’s letter in which he encourages dog owners not to grieve death but to rejoice in the happy life they shared. I knew immediately that I was going to set it to music and A Grateful Tail was born.”
Woof Fest will also take place on August 25th at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.
A happening with heart, $1 from each ticket purchased will benefit The Humane Society of the United States.
Tickets: $75 (undercover); $55 (undercover); $45 (reserved terrace): $35 (lawn); $2 companion tickets for your dog can be purchased with a lawn ticket.
When: August 24, 2013 (Doors open at 6 p.m.; showtime at 8 p.m.)
Where: The Mann Center for the Performing Arts at 5201 Parkside Avenue in Philadelphia
For more information:
- visit www.wooffest.com
Photo Credit: Amazon