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November 05, 1978 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-11-05

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s playing
e blues number, "Best to Go It Alone."
'"THAT PINTO Pony" gave us a whiff
of swanky Western ragtime as Siebel's
guitar and Macellas's bass repeatedly
interchanged melody and harmony.
The tune got more beautiful as they
twisted it between them, but the per-
formance lacked guts. It was precise
and uninvolved for the most part,
removing the audience from the music.
The texture of the evening remained
fairly constant. "Going Downtown," a
new ballad by Siebel, had a number of"
memorable bass solos featuringsimple
tones and tight rhythms. Marcellas's
instrumentation picked up the tune with
a deep blues quality thit greatly
enhanced the ragged vibrancy of
Siebel's voice.
The theme of the day was "Losing
you," and Siebel filled the evening with
a generous complement of love songs,
ballads, western swing, bluegrass, and
especially city blues on that subject.
The music was uniformly laid-back,
and the audience never got through to
the heart of the emotion. Folk music at
its best becomes an intensely personal
experience between performer and
listener, especially when the songs deal
with love, loneliness, and adventure.
Siebel had the songs, the accom-
painment, and the voice to bang out a
soulful and moving performance. Yes,
the music was there, but the magic was


Let them ea
I do not share Neil Simon's fascination with kooky,
neurotic, yet lovable New Yorkers, and twisted my
program anxiously as the first of the three playlets which
compose Simon's California Suite began Friday at the
Power Center. Carolyn Jones, best known as the fey Mor-
ticia on TV's Addams Family, stars as Hannah Warren, a
precious New York bitch on a mission to California to
recover her runaway daughter from an ex-husband.
Bill Warren (James Drury, of The Virginian) is the ex-
patriate New Yorker who has been living the mod CaliforT
nia lifestyle for nine years after his divorce from Hannah,
and the two start in with abrasive antithetical chit-chat as
soon as they meet in her hotel suite..
California Suite
By Neil Simon
Professional Theatre Program
.Power Center
"visitors from New York"
Hannah Warren.............Carolyn Jones
William Warren.............James Drury
"Visitors from London"
Sidney Nichols......... Peter Bailey-Britton
Diana Nichols.............. Carolyn Jones
"Visitors from Philadelphia"
Marvin Michaels................. James Drury
Bunny .. ........ .....Aurelia De Felice
Millie Michaels................ Carolyn Jones
Jerry Adler, director; William Ritman,
scenery; Jane Greenwood, costumes;
Tharon Musser, lighting
Obligatory gags about health foods, jogging, and the
ever-warm climate prod along this first playlet, "A
Visitor From New York," which never progresses from
anything more than a dramatized conversation between
estranged parties.
DURING THE desultory argument over the custody of
seventeen-year-old Jenny, Simon wrestles with the
question of which environment, Manhattan penthouse or
Hollywood rancho, is the best place for an intelligent mind
to prosper. He yea-says and nay-says, finally impaling
himself on the fence by having these two unfortunate
characters shrug their shoulders in stalemate and resign
themselves to accepting the girl's preference for Daddy.
Since we in the audience never meet the girl in question,
and there is little to make us side with either of the odious
parents, "Visitor" becomes a test of how long we can en-
joy the harsh bandinage. It wears.
Hannah has most of the good lines. "Yes, I was nervous
on our wedding night," she confesses, "though unfortuan-
tely it was after we had sex." Carolyn Jones plays it a bit
stiff, as does James Drury, and a lot of the barbed repar-
tee comes off too slick and rehearsed. Simon's penchant
for glib one-liners makes the scene unconvincing.
EVERYONE IS more relaxed for "Visitors From
London," the second playlet, and there is no longer the
sense that we are watching famous actors playing
married couples. Carolyn Jones is back as Diana Nichols,
a middle-aged English movie-star staying in that same
Hollywood Hotel suite as she attends the Academy Awar-
ds festivities. The first scene is a fast-paced and funny ex-
change between Diana and her husband Sidney (Peter

t one-liners
Bailery-Britton) concerning the upcoming awards and the
pursuant anxiety.
The second scene takes places later that night, after the
awards, when the couple, having failed to win an Oscar,
stumbles into the suite three-sheets-in-the-wind drunk,
arguing about their respective ill-behaviour that evening.
"Who was that girl you threw up on?" demands Sidney in
order to make conversation; "If I kept track of every girl I
threw up on," she answers, "I wouldn't have time to do
my shopping." Both Jones and Bailey-Britton are
thoroughly convincing as drunks, but not so convincing as
upper-class Britishers. When Jones says "Asshole," it
comes out "Asshoe," nore like Jimmy Carter had said it,
and Bailey-Warren discouragingly lapses into an Eastern
European dialect before rescuing himself. Both actors are
otherwise excellent, but the material they must perform
leaves something to be desired.
THE TRAGI-COMEDY of the completely drunken and
depressed couple leaps out as a full scale tragedy when it
comes to the audience's attention that Diana's husband is
actually a "homosexual bisexual," and their marriage is
more or less just for convenience and companionship,,"a
refuge," in Sidney's words, "for all our disappointments
out there." We've not been dramatically prepared for the
stark lives of these two Hollywood products, and are left
unsure of whether we are supposed to giggle at the parody
or gnash our teeth and wail.
Everything is just right in "Visitor From
Philadelphia," the closing playlet of California Suite.
Simon never loses the light touch, and Jones and Drury
seem much more at home in this lively vignette concer-
ning the unfortunate travails of a drunken married man.
Drury's Marvin Michaels wakes up in his Hollywood
Hotel suite with a furious katzenjammer, and to com-
pound his agony there is an unconscious leggy blonde in
the kip with him and only moments until his wife arrives
from Philadelphia.
THE ADDLED Marvin can barely remember where the
woman came from, let alone what he did with her, but
easily realizes that dear Millie Michaels won't find his
confusion a sufficient excuse. The subsequent
Chaplinesque shennanigans before Millie's realization are
well-played light comedy and the highpoint of the evening.
Jones' Millie is top quality, her whiney East Coast
Jewish accent never letting her down and her pert, con-
trolled body movements suitably piquant for a woman
whose plumage has been so ruffled. Drury is believably
schleppish as the man who sins once in fifteen years, and
is dumb enough to get caught at it.
Once the secret is out in the open and Millie discovers
the young woman sleeping under the covers, Simon allows
his characters to wax a tad philosophical on marriage and
the solidity of their commitment to each other before
lightening up the material.
AURELIA DE FELICE is given a lot of program space
and curtain call attention as Bunny, the woman under the
bedclothing whom Michaels is so anxious to hide.
California Suite shows that Neil Simon can be a funny
man if only he doesn't stumble over a tendency to burden
his comedy with pathos.









starring in






also starring

i-aye Kioknosway--Nov. I V PETERBAILEY-BRITTON
Pendleton arts center, TODA~st 2:00
P.T.P. Box Office Hours in Power Center
12-5 pm and 6-8 pm
re arm ow

University of Michigan
Gilbert and Sullivan Society
Directors and designers needed for Winter Term
production April 4-14, 1979'(Two weekends).
Petitioning meeting to select stage director, music (vocal
and/or orchestral) director and set designer/technical
director will be held Nov. 13. Persons interested in these
positions should contact John Meyer (995-4770) or the U. of M.
Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Michigan League.
Shows being considered are IOLANTHE, HMS PINAFORE,
Vipont eCfture$ presents:
"The Nuclear Arms Race"
MONDAY, NOV. 6 at 8 pm
For more information call 763-1453

V r .

. 4 I


i .

Here's a blend of new and old that will
delight every -member of the family-love
song favorites sung in the classical Waring
choral style and those with the zest of today's
music. Features Fred Waring and 30 singers,
dancers and musicians. Tickets are from $3 to
$8 at Burton Tower, 9-4:30. Box office opens
at 7 on Thurs. Phone 665-3717.
Thursday, November 9
at 8:50
Hill Auditorium


in a special p


erformance at

Ann Arbor

-- z~l>wr #wlu.

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