NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Meryl Streep made her face a shade of orange on Monday night, then whipped up her hair and stuffed a pillow or two under a dark business suit and red tie. She was Donald Trump for the finale of the Public Theater's one-night-only gala performance exploring Shakespeare's influence on America.
It was a show of Shakespearean activism that completely bowled over the audience, including activist investors Dan Loeb and Barry Rosenstein.
Streep certainly had her pick of ripe moments from the Bard to channel the Donald. Wouldn't it have been nice to see her recite "to be, or not to be"? Or she could have played the presidential candidate enduring the taunting of three witches. Instead, Streep's Trump was a thug from the 1948 musical Kiss Me, Kate, alongside Christine Baranski playing her elegant self.
So there was Trump, with the New York accent and flapping arms, putting his own spin on Cole Porter's Brush Up Your Shakespeare about the wooing of women.
"Problem now with society, we're all hung up on propriety," sang Streep, who got bawdier as the song went on: "She can sample my Measure for Measure."
The show at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, titled The United States Of America, was crafted by Jeremy McCarter, who hosted with James Shapiro, editor of the Library of America volume Shakespeare In America. There were sections about Abraham Lincoln's affection for the Elizabethan playwright and the prejudiced responses to the interracial couple in Othello. The first light break came with the balcony scene from Romeo And Juliet, followed by the West Side Story version.
Streep's number, with its nod to current events, had the crowd roaring right into the after party, where Third Point's Loeb got a drink as a DJ spun Aerosmith, Prince, and Bell Biv Devoe.
The Public presents free performances of Shakespeare plays at the Delacorte attended by about 100,000 people annually. This season's offerings are Taming Of The Shrew and Troilus And Cressida. "We believe in something we call civic culture, because culture is not just something that can be bought," said Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public. "It needs to be shared with everybody." The outdoor setting usually includes some mosquitoes, stargazing and city intrusions, like the sirens that went off during Streep and Baranski's number.