Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

October 28, 1979 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-28
This is a tabloid page

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

Page 6-Sunday. October 28, 1979-The Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, Oc

The making of a musical

A T FIRST GLANCE, it looks like
any of the other thousand-odd
rehearsals that transpire over
the school year. The director, a native
Oklahoman with a lingering Sooner
twang, is calling for a little restraint on
the part of one of her comic players.
Other performers mill about, gossiping
quietly. The rehearsal pianist flips
ahead a few pages in the score to read
over a particularly difficult passage.
But one look at the script lying on the
piano reveals a curious anomaly. The
cover describes the play as the "Fall
Rehersal" version. The average cover
of, say, a Rodgers and Hammerstein
text likely wouldn't contain a
suggestion that the words were in any
way tentative; nor would it be permit-
ted to leave the printer's office with the
word "rehearsal" missing an 'a.' But
then, this script was hastily typed only
weeks before by an amateur clerical.
.The place: The Musket office within
UAC. The authors: University un-
dergraduates Andy Kurtzman (words),
William Holab (music) and Scott
Eyerly (both). The play: In the Dark,
the first original musical Musket has
unleashed in nearly a decade,
scheduled to open at the Power Center
on Nov. 16.
Since the authors began work on their
script,; well over two years ago, it has
Joshua Peck reviews theater for
the Daily A rits Page.

After a two-year grind, three student
authors unveil Musket's first original show
in a decade.
By Joshua Peck

seen several plots, dozens of revisions,
and a handful of songs that audiences
will never hear. At first, the
playwrights were worried that all their
tinkering with the show was somehow
out-of-the-ordinary. Just in time to save
their sanity, Eyerly happened adross
the book Sondheim and Company,
which tells of the often frantic work
habits of composer Stephen Sondheim
and his colleagues. "We didn't know it
was like that." recalls Eyerly. Their
minds at ease, the threesome was able
to get back to the dirty business of
rearranging the fruits of their work.
Eyerly and Kurtzman were
sophomores when then-Musket
producer Jim Stern came to thenrwith
a proposal that they author a show for
possible production by the student
company. Holab, also a sophomore,
joined them soon after, completing.
what had started to look like a musical
Chicago Mafia: Stern and all three

authors had been acquaintances at New
Trier West High School in suburban
Northfield, Ill. (Leslie Winick, now the
show's associate producer, is yet
another New Trier graduate.) .
Shortly after they began considering
ideas for the show, they hit upon the
central motif of ghosts, who would be
invisible to the other characters but, of
course, not to the audience. The ghosts
are one of their few early notions that
remained more or less intact
throughout the show's endless revisions
- although, even here, considerable
adjustments were made: At one point,
the.show pictured 15 ghosts on stage,
each of whom was to remain austerely
silent throughout. The number has now
been trimmed to a tidy five, each quite
vocal and delightfully perverse. Among
them are a gleefully incestuous set of
twins, their adulterous parents, and an
uncle who takes pleasure in black-
mailing them all.

The original conception boasted even
more macabre treats. Through talks
with various parties in and outside the
theatre department, the authors heard
comments to the effect that serious and
even grisly subject matterhad been un-
justly ignored in musical theater. A few
people even suggested death and
suicide as possible topics for treatment
in a musical. The draft that came out of
those early suggestions was killed by
the Musket staffers who looked it over.
Although none of the authors appear
very bitter about that initial rejection,
they must have been miffed when, not
long after they'd returned to the
proverbial drawing board, Stephen
Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, brought a
splash of throat-slitting gore to the
Broadway stage.
Holab, Kurtzman and Eyerly all saw
and loved Sweeney Todd, but ever since
Musket declined 'to produce their
earlier effort, they have strived toward
bringing less of a sinister dimension to
the work. The result is doubly suc-
cessful: Not only are the ghostly
presences presented with a lighter
touch, but a couple of mortals - whose
clumsy and rocky romance is central to
the story - rival for the audience's at-
OR ONLY THE second time in
history, Musket has adequate
space in which to prepare a
See THE ATR, Page 7

household word as the re-
cently scrutinized Wonder-
bread, and these days he
spartCs at least as much controversy.
Since the country's foremost single
consumer advocate has begun to direct
his outrage away from the dangers of
the Corvair and toward such diverse
issues as college entrance
examinations, the noise level of sirens,
and, lately and most emphatically,
cooperatives, the opportunity for
judgments and gossip has grown. So it's
not surprising that for the past year or
so headlines have. queried, "Is Ralph
Nader Obsolete?" while the Capitol Hill
politicos have debated over cocktails
whether the man who once posed for a
Newsweek cover in a suit of armor is
now washed up.
Nader has both devotees and adver-
saries eager to broadcast their respec-
tive views on whether he is still the
citizens' citizen. In a recent- Rolling
Stone interview, political columnists
Alexander Cockburn and James
Ridgeway wrote, "Nader is still the
nation's most articulate and effective
campaigner against the excesses of big
business and government." At the
same time, many Washington reporters
and politicians are saying just the op-
posite. "Ralph Nader?.," said one
Washington resident. "Oh, all the
papers are saying he's burnt out." Last
year, when Nader requested an ap-
pearance on NBC's Tomorrow show,
host Tom Snyder refused, saying he
was "yesterday's news."
The attacks came especially fast and
furious early last year, when the House
o Representatives rejected one of
Nader's pet projects, a bill to set up a
consumer protection agency. The
nation's leading consumer champion
can no longer do his job in Washington,
people said. Is Ralph Nader slipping, or
are the times changing around him?.
Whatever the case, the question now is
Elisa Isaacson is associate editor
of the Sunday Magazine.

whether he can point his energies in a
practical direction, and prove that, no,
Nader is not obsolete.
When Nader stood on stage at the
Michigan Theatre here last week to ad-
dress a crowd of about 1,800, he looked
much like the same man whose face fir-
st became known to public in the mid-
sixties after the publication of his first
book, Unsafe At Any Speed, which itself
rendered the Corvair obsolete. Yes, his
hair is graying (he's 45) and he looked
tired that night (he had yet another
speech to give in Washington at mid-
night), but he wore the habitual three-
piece suit and tie, still carried his lanky
frame with ease, and looked out at the
audience with those same soulful eyes.
And his words had a familiar ring to
them. Nader was expounding upon the
same themes-and using many of the
same catch phraes-of corporate
monopoly and the need for citizen par-
ticipation he addressed in such books as
Corporate Power in America and
Taming the Giant Corporation. But
whereas before Nader intended his
theories to be enacted on the stage of
Capitol Hill, he came to Ann Arbor last
week to recruit the members of his
audience as participants on the home
front. Following his failure to push a
consumer protection agency bill
through Congress last year, Nader has
been turning away more and more
from the increasingly immunized

powers in Washington and pinning his
hopes for the 1980s on a grass roots
The consumer protection bill's failure
was a major catalyst in Nader's disgust
with the Washington bureaucracy. The
bill, simply enough, would have created

Ralph Nader looks
By Elisa Isaacson

nickels fror
Though the
jokes on the
quite effectiv
The consur
in the Hous
more discoui

'Nader has been turning
the increasingly immunizes
Washington and pinning hisj

1.980s on a grass roots


an Office of Consumer Representation
to act as the American consumer's at-
torney before federal agencies. Though
it would have no power to veto the
decisions of those agencies, it would be
a legitimate, government-endorsed
champion of the people. The idea was
not new or radical to Washington, as the
late Minnesota Sen. Hubert Humphrey
had formulated a similar proposal in
1959. The bill changed Congressional
hands throughout the next decade, until
Nader adopted it as his consumer agen-
cy bill in 1969. After years of rejections,
including a Senate filibuster and the
threat of presidential veto, Nader
thought he saw a savior in Jimmy Car-
ter. In 1976, Nader visited Carter in
Plains. Ga., and secured a promise that
once in the White House the candidate
would challenge corporate interests for
the benefit of the consumers. However,
when the bill came up for a vote in 1978,
Carter made a half-hearted attempt at
phoning a few Congress members to
convince them to approve it.

mood in the
austerity, ai
business seer
Nader felt C
succumbed t
the citizens' u
infeffectual. P
strategies. Si
a presidenti
push through
based const
tom-the c
Nader's dri
masses took
for the ne
displace the
voles develop
tive," a new
spire the p
says "contrc
movement is
and the consi

H ~E'S EXTREMELY reluc- Whe h
tant to use the modest House, Nade
powers of his office to sumers' right
fight," Nader said of Carter jamin Rosent
at the time. He attributes Carter's lack of grass
weak stand to corporate pressures. reason. Obs
Nader had indeed pinned many hopes Nader's failu
on the president, but it was not for lack as the consu
of effort on his own part. In fact, many become pas
observers on the M'ill charged that the Washington c
consumer champion's belligerence portunism-
brought the downfall of his own bill. nuclear pow
Apparently, Nader's frustration with shining arms
the bill's repeated rejections had with too stu
manifested itself in outright attacks on some opinion
opposing members of Congress. In an consumer bil
effort to reach the Congress members a new low in I
through their consitituencies, Nader the consume
taped localized radio messages. Calling become obsol
the anti-agency legislators everything with the tir
from "mushy liberals" to "disgusting reporters he
double-crossers," Nader urged the continued to
citizens to send Congress a message. Washington,
Here was an opportunity for the his tactics we
people-the consumers who would allies were de
benefit from the bill-to participate in Apparently
the decision-making. One of Nader's fort to go wi
citizen input plans was the "nickel decade. Witlh
campaign." He urged each person to and disgruntl
send his or her Congressperson enough as the allege
money to cover the person's own annual can be convi
share of the consumer bill's $15 million the overwhe
price tag. For the next few weeks, the porations to i:
mailbags in the three House office

Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan