Hee hee... I do like a silly pun. Much like the other bloggers in this column, I think you'd all agree.
I didn't pay any attention to the circled letters as I was solving. It was going by too quickly. I hit the revealer at 37A: Aquatic denizen ... or a phonetic hint to this puzzle's circled words (SEACREATURE), and didn't bother to look at the answers. I figured they'd be animals that live in the ocean, and thought no more of it.
When I finished the grid, and looked back, I saw the four organisms in question: a SPONGE (reminds me of Auntie Mame), an URCHIN, a TURTLE, and... a MONKEY?! Because, you see (see what I did there?), the creatures are formed by their circles into a letter C, thus becoming C-creatures. Hah!
I almost don't care about the rest of the grid after that. I laughed out loud!
|There's a PULSAR somewhere in there|
Okay, so. Yeah, the rest of the puzzle. Of course, there's going to be some difficulties due to those triple-checked letters in the circles. But honestly, Ms. Dershowitz avoids a lot of the challenges with some well placed black squares in the NE and SW. ORTS and UTILE are classic old time crosswordese. AER was fine, and NARUTO is a classic manga. So really no complaints to speak of.
And we also get a nice nod to the amazing Patty LUPONE, some fun math EMPTYSET bits, as well as the classic ANKARA and Anne BOLEYN (referenced by the musical Six, which we saw in London. It was not at all what I expected, and highly enjoyable. And highly LOUD).
Which character in Hamlet is not a DANE? Fortinbras. There's your ROI for the day. (Also some minor characters from Norway and England, but they don't even have names.)