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October 07, 1979 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

'Showboat'

a fair cruise

By JOSHUA PECK.
J)uring the intermission of Showboat
0jiday night, I reflected that perhaps
the textbooks are wrong in their claim
that Oklahoma was the first American
mpsical to deal seriously with serious
issues. After all, miscegenation - in-
teracial marriage - is a weighty
topic. Many people still are not entirely
at ease with the sight of a racially
diverse couple holding hands in public.
Sbow Boat
Music: Jera Kern
Book & Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein It
Power Center
an ...... ..... Forrest Tucker
nie...... .... Butterfly McQueen
EHie ..................... Dorothy Stanley
Rgbberface.............. Michael Rhone
Julie ......... .......... Adrienne Angel
Gaylord Ravenal................ Tom McKinney
Magnolia ... ..Pamela Kalt
SDirector, Stone Widney
When Oscar Hammerstein's book
shows us a mulatto character
tlteatened with arrest for being the,
wife of a white man, it looks as if there
may be more than the usual boy-gets-
loses-gets girl story line in store. When
the couple is forced to leave the
showboat company because of racial
laws, the seeds of potentially com-
pelling racial conflict seem to have
been sown. When the mulatto shows up
in the second act, evidently on her own,
one is led to believe that the racial sub-
plot is about to rise to .some kind of in-
teresting mini-climax. But when the
curtain falls on the final curtain call,
one realizes with a jolt that all hope for
a statement of more than emotional
substance has been for naught. Unless
she is hiding under one of those bonnets
bouncing around stage in the finale, the
character in question has been
swallowed by the justifiably famous
Jerome Kern score and by the
hodgepodge of deliberate overacting
that marks this particular production.
THERE'S NOTHING intrinsically
wrong with ordinary musical theater;
Sound of Music makes for a pleasant
evening out, Kiss Me Kate is droll
enough, and Candide contains some of
the more euphonious melodies this side
of Haydn. But to be baited with a hint of
social relevance and then to have it un-
ceremoniously dropped is more than
merely frustrating; it is unfair.
.Forrest Tucker and Butterfly
McQueen, respectively F Troop's and
Gone With The Wind's contributions to

the current Showboat cast, are regret-
fully unsurprising in their portrayals of
Cap'n Andy and Queenie. Tucker knows
that the very sound of his voice breeds
images of mindlessly munching dessert
in front of a television set, and he lets
that not altogether unpleasant
association carry his performance off.
He has to, because his dancing abilities
won't do the trick.
Ms. McQueen's most famous work
thus far has been behind a microphone
in the famous Zanuck movie as Prissy,
and on the Jack Benny Show on the
radio. There is good reason for that too;
her voice is simply too small to fill a
theater. Perhaps it hasn't always been,
but the woman was born 68 years ago,
and age takes its toll on a voice. What's
surprising is that McQueen is delight-
fully spry and certainly outdances her
younger co-star.
SHOWBOAT HAS so many charac-
ters prancing in and out of the spotlight
that it is difficult to distinguish major
pieces of plot from minor ones, but the
main hero and heroine would seem to
be Gaylord Ravenal (Tom McKinney),
a dashing river gambler, and Magnolia

(Pamela Kalt), lovely daughter to the
Cap'n (oh, that apostrophe). The two
meet one day, star together in the
showboat entertainment shortly
thereafter, marry three weeks after
that, and some twenty years later (hold
onto your hats) split up, the financial
woes of the valiant Gaylord having him
convinced that he can no longer serve
as a worthy husband to the ever-true
Magnolia or as a proper father to their
daughter.
VOCALLY, the cast is generally quite
strong, with McKinney's operatic
background making for the most
pleasing sound of all., Outstanding for
bringing her character most convin-
cingly to light via unique vocal style is
Adrienne Angel, as Julie, the actress of

mixed-racial heritage. She has a char-
ming sassiness that shines through
"Bill," her second-act torch song.
Would that the script had allowed her to
make more of her acting talents as
well.,
Robert Mosley plays Joe in as ham-
my a fashion as one could imagine, but
Stone Widney's staging of the various
renditions of his big number, "Ol' Man
River," virtually invite Mosley to show
off. The low notes of the verse sound
especially soothing and wistful as the
actor mulls over Nature's melancholy
ways.
Many moments in the show are in-
tended to be amusing, but most are
drawn from mimicking the
melodramatic style of the day. It's been
done before, and better, so it's not sur-
prising that the-mockery usually falls
flat. Michael Rhone, though, in the role
of "Rubberface," not only dances up a
storm, but does a wonderfully lazy
drawl as the lazy stagehand. His
mugging and rambunctious slow-
wittedness are comic highlights of the
sort that could have served his fellow
actors well.

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, October 7, 1979-Page7
PEIIIELENIC
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Prices 20-30% below re
OCT.9,01E11-1O m-pm
M. Union Ballroom
" A 11proceeds donated to Women's Crisis Center of Anin Arbor
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ELIO PETRI'S 1971
INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN
UNDER SUSPICION
Sophisticated suspense and masterful direction combine to create this highly
cinematic, captivating thriller. The chief of the government's political intel-
ligence unit murders his girlfriend and plants evidence leading to himself.
Believing he is immune to prosecution, he conducts the investigation with
relish.
Mon: THE MISTRESS (Free at 8:00 only)
Tues: Bergman's THE SEVENTH SEAL.

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Dances 'fares

By KATHE TELINGATOR
His movements suggested neither a
sense of urgency nor listlessness. Slow
and controlled, he turned, he bent, he
stretched. A stick held in his hands
neither led nor followed his movemen-
ts, but was merely an extension of
them. Crack! The sound of the stick hit-
ting the wooden floor-the silence was
broken? the show had begun.
The sound was startling and the
opening had, effectively caught the
audience's attention; however, the rest
of Willie Feuer and Susan Matheke's
"Dances for 2," their Dance School
debut, had some difficultymaintaining
it.
Overall the pairs' duets were their
more successful pieces. "Moonsuite,"
choreographed by Feuer, could easily
be described as etheral. Danced to a
medley of "Blue Moon," "By the Light
of the Silvery Moon," and "Moonlight
and Shadows," the audience could not
help but get as swept up by the mood as
the dancers were getting with one
another. With a little blue lighting and
some white transparent costumes ad-
ded, the illusion was inescapable. The

lighting movement-match
and Feuer added s4
movement to make the pi
serious.
"THE CRANE'S WALT
duet choreographed by
more or less what the titl
"Vocalise" the music so
very ill-attempted aria. It
taken seriously of course
cers moved about stretcl
tending like big birds.
The last duet was a
"Don't Rag Me," chore
Matheke. Matheke is a ve
beautiful dancer. Her mo
graceful and clear and this
to highlight her talents. He
less justice for Feuer. Th
piece, Matheke would look
Feuer's direction: she sm
involved in her movemer
meaning. Feuer too was it
movement, but to the poir
very little attention to his r
audience. There was nev
that Feuer was actually e
he was doing.
THE WEAKEST SPOTt

pretty, well
ed the music, was the solos, and the basic problem of
ome comic the solos was that the dancers chose to
ece even less do them mostly in silence.
"Breakpoint, " a solo by Matheke,
Z," the other had a background of wind sounds. As
Feuer, was they blew, she blew. The movement
e implies. In was swaying and impulsive. Matheke
unded like a incorporated gasps and sights of breath
was not to be matching her movements. It began to
as the dan- get very disturbing and really took
hing and ex- away from her interpretation. One
almost wanted to run out and stop her
piece called from dancing in fear that she was
pographed by hyperventilating. It was an interesting
ry slim, very idea, but not particularly effective in
ryemen, aey the way she meant it to be.
vpiece served Feuer's solo, "Empty Hands" also
piece sreally didn't work. Done in silence with
owever, it did Feuer in a costume which made him
iroughout the look like a gas station attendant, "Han-
longingly in ds" failed to involve the audience and
iled, she was hold their attention. His choreography
nts and their was not particularly interesting and
nvolved in his leaned more towards the movement of
nt of showing a mime than that a dancer. His motions
partner or the suggested that he was doing some par-
er any sense ticular action, but he never successfully
njoying what conveyed what it was he was doing.
Although the show provided a pot-
the concert pourri of notions, it was not a confused
one. Rather, it was one that tried many
things out, with the dancers knowing
full well that not everything can con-
I nect. Still, Matheke and Feuer offer
many interesting ideas, and one can
elta'numbers, only hope that their future concerts
!n he accomn- become more interesting.

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Bryan Bowers
By PATTI DIETZ was a good thing that Bow

wor

Aotiaharp player Bryan Bowers ranks
right up there with David Bromberg in
his ability to revive and enliven old
"roots" tunes. Bowers' survival in the
folk realm is particularly unique in a
time when many performers (notably
Bromberg) lean more and more on the
electronic mode to tell their tales. That
Bowers is able to headline three nights
at the Ark (his final performance is
tonight) performing unplugged is a
tribute to both his abilities as a
musician and a performer.
Bowers' set Friday evening was his
usual mixture of call-and-response
sing-alongs, gospel renditions, and
bluegrass tales. He admitted to the
audience that he and his music were
subject to emotional "peaks and
valleys"; this proved to be a adept
summation of his performance.
Bowers' mood swings from light-
heartedness on such tunes as "The
Scotsman" and "Four Wet Pigs" to
solemnity on "Prison Song" and "Hot
Buttered Rum"-making for a tran-
sition which is somewhat jarring, but
nonetheless effective.
That Bowers is a master of the
autoharp was demonstrated in his up-
tempo reworkings of old fiddle tunes
and in variations he performed on the
"Ode to Joy.". His playing is so
proficient that one could almost swear
one was listening to a carefully over-
dubbed tape, there's that much to be
heard.
As he was taping Friday evening, it
-
Jerome K~ern &:Oscar Hammerstein Ii's
' n I

an eager-to-sing audience. F
outreach gave his listener
choice but to enjoy him and
Long introductions to somec
made him alternately acce
exposed.
Although Bowers does not
resonant voice necessar

harps on
rs had' such cessfully deliver hisa eap
His friendly his voice does work whe
's no other panies himselft with his ac
sing along. instrumentally and ev
of his songs Bowers is a musician wh
essible and audience an intricate par
formance. He is a rarity
t posess the pleasure to watch.
y to suc-

utoharp. Both
en vocally,
1o makes his
rt of the per-
, and he is a

(or capacity)
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G trocolor A NEW WORLD PICTURE

9

ttnih. U1,12
The Society takes great pride in hosting one of America's
on the eve of its history-making first tour of Europe.

premier musical organizations,

A temptingly tasteful comedy
6 for adults who can count.

BLAKE EDWARQS'
! 0N7

Music Director Antal Dorati will conduct the orchestra in a program of works by Haydn,
Barber, Ravel, and Dvorak. Dorati,; with the group since 1977, is an internationally recognized
conductor and composer. He is principal guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic
Orchestra as well as its Conductor Laureate.
This special appearance replaces the Choral Union Series concert originally scheduled
for Saturday. October 13. Tickets for that concert will be honored for the Detroit Svmohonv

(;ir%7 ,..

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