Bill Murray played a most unlikely Army recruit in the 1981 movie “Stripes.” These days, he’s on the road in a very different role, as a song, and yes, even dance man. Jane Pauley has our Sunday Profile:
At the Napa Valley Festival this past July, a sell-out crowd gathered to witness something a bit different. It was the U.S. premiere of “New Worlds”: an evening of chamber music, great literature, and Bill Murray — singing “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.”
“By myself, in the shower, I’m just as good as anyone else in the shower,” he said. “Well, better than some, maybe! But on the stage with these three, I’m elevated. You can’t stand next to this music and not be affected by it.”
And the artists he works with are indeed world-class. At the piano, Vanessa Perez; Mira Wang is the violinist; and Jan Vogler makes his Stradivari cello sing. Any one of them could fill a concert hall.
Murray’s instrument is less visible, but no less powerful.
I feel pretty, oh so pretty,
I feel pretty and witty and bright,
and I pity any girl who isn’t me tonight…
From “West Side Story”
“He’s making us poke fun at ourselves, too,” said Perez. “I let my hair down. Like, this is so refreshing, too, you know?”
To watch a trailer for “New Worlds” click on the video player below.
This all began a few years back, when Murray and Vogler met on a transatlantic flight.
“Bill started talking to me about the cello I was transporting — I think he was amused that the cello had its own seat,” Vogler said. “So the cello was in the window, I was in aisle, across the aisle was Bill.”
Pauley asked, “Did you know who he was?”
“Not right away, I have to confess. And then he started joking. When Bill jokes, you are laughing. There is no doubt about that.”