The St. Louis Symphony plays Tchaikovsky’s rarely performed Hamlet, Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare, op. 67, Saturday and Sunday. It is a fiercely dramatic work, managing to project the tormented inner psyche of a madly appealing young rebel, as conceived by William Shakespeare. Leave it to Tchaikovsky to know how to convey a tormented inner psyche.
There have been any number of great stage and movie Hamlets, but my friend Kim Winkler reminded me of a lesser-known interpretation of the melancholy Dane when she sent me the picture above. Those of us of a certain age may remember the extraordinarily popular sitcom Happy Days, which featured Henry Winkler (now you get the Winkler connection) as the lovable hood Fonzie. In one episode, Fonzie actually played the lead in a theater production Hamlet. When youngsters in the audience began to make light of the “To be or not to be” soliloquy, the Fonz dropped character and spoke to the audience about his own personal questions about mortality. Yes, this happened on a mainstream 1970s network TV sitcom.
“The rest is silence. Whoa!”