A while ago on the internet, it was popular to tell stories about meeting Bill Murray and have it end with him telling the narrator, “No one’s going to believe you.” Monday night at Proctor’s Theater felt like one of those stories, unless you were there, no one’s going to believe that the show happened. Bill Murray, Jan Vogler and Friends gave all those in Schenectady a night to remember.
For those unaware, New Worlds consists of Bill Murray on vocals and pocket tambourine, Jan Vogler on cello, Mira Wang on violin, and Vanessa Perez on piano. The content of the evening was somehow simultaneously nothing like you would expect from a Bill Murray show and exactly how you would expect a Bill Murray show. He read selections from American literature featuring Hemingway and Twain, he sang songs from “The Piano has Been Drinking” to “Moonriver.” The trio of musicians played along or under him. From reading reviews of previous shows, it was a standard set of selections. Bill Murray radiated utter sincerity in a way that only someone with his reputation can. The earnest honesty that poured through his readings and songs was electric enough to produce goosebumps. The musicians were equally skilled and Mr. Murray never let his presence over shadow them. He sat behind the piano when they were playing alone so the audience would know they were the ones to focus on in that moment. They performed selections from Bach, Shubert and Rimsky-Korsakov, each more dazzling than the last. The ended the usual set with their signature medley from West Side Story including “Somewhere,” “I Feel Pretty,” and “America.” As they left the stage, the crowd stood to wait for the encore.
The typical encore from this troupe is usually a handful of songs that are tried and true through other shows. Monday night, however, after taking a short conference in between songs, the quartet seemed to make a spur of the moment decision to keep playing. Mr. Murray said that they were staying up there since the theater was going to keep the heat on all night. They played “Do You Believe in Magic?” that they insisted had never been performed in public before. Each song was a discussion but the definite highlight of the performance that evening was Mr. Murray leading the crowd in not only “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond,” but “El Paso” as well. “El Paso” had been done many times previously but it somehow felt rebellious in Schenectady, the way that it was sung and all of us joining in.
The band was literally called off the stage to end the show. A young woman walked on stage to hand Bill Murray around two or three dozen long stem roses. Mr. Murray took to handing out roses to people in the audience. He got to the edge of stage right before figuring out that the people in the balcony were waving to him for flowers as well. He began to throw roses to them before hopping off stage to keep passing out roses to the orchestra. He got to just under overhang of the full balcony before he began to throw flowers up there as well. He returned to stage and thanked us all for being there. It was overall a wild night to remember.
But like I said, no one’s going to believe me.
Article: Lauren Byrnes
Images: Bryan Lasky