Bill Murray fronted a hilarious, empowering West Side Story medley on Thursday’s Late Show alongside his recent musical collaborator, German cellist Jan Vogler. The performance, which capped off a zany late-night takeover, included spoken word/classical renditions of Sondheim-Bernstein classics “Somewhere,” “I Feel Pretty” and “America.”
Murray opened the mini-set in lounge crooner mode, theatrically smirking and wandering around the stage to a soundtrack of sawing strings and stomping piano. The actor drastic utilized tonal shifts for comedic effect, moving from the drama of “Somewhere” to the silliness of “I Feel Pretty” – the latter earning audience chuckles as Murray sashayed across the stage.
He also ended the performance with sly political commentary, closing out “America” with the the lyric, “Puerto Rico’s in America.” The line, seemingly a jab at President Trump’s controversial aid efforts following Hurricane Maria, drew massive applause.
The duo were promoting the recently issued collaborative LP, New Worlds, which blends classical music, American standards and literary readings. But Murray dominated the entire Late Show episode, including a hilarious segment where he charged onstage wearing an Uncle Sam hat and fired a T-shirt cannon into the audience. After sitting down exhausted, the actor toasted his beloved Chicago Cubs with a glass of rum and chatted with host Stephen Colbert about their respectively huge families.
Vogler joined the duo onstage later, recounting how he’d never heard of Murray upon their random first meeting at a Berlin airport. The comic legend “just had an aura,” the cellist said, noting that he’s subsequently checked out some of Murray’s best-known films, including Caddyshack and Stripes.
Murray and Vogler also teamed for a bonus web performance, with the actor reciting Lucille Clifton’s “Blessing the Boats” over soothing cello and piano.