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November 10, 1979 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-11-10

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The Michigan Daily-Saturday, November 10, 1979--Page 5

.Jo Yaffe on
tags of a tower
sfage of a Gra'
e sammer of 1
followed the
sometimes see
consecutive n
Dead album,
however, she
records since
from them),

ad contest



could use re-routing

Yaffe, deadophile I
TIE HERZFELD were people I saw only at Dead concer-
ce crawled between the ts and yet I considered them my frien-
ing policeman to rush the ds. I knew that if I needed something,
teful Dead concert. In the they would come to my rescue. And I'd
973, she and 10 friends do the same for them." Sumrher sprees
band in a Winnebago, in Winnebagos were paid for by friends
eing them in concert five with money gained in various ways.
ights. She owns every Like the musicians, the Dead's
( true to the band, followers provided for the community.
doesn't buy the bootleg The grateful dead, discovered in a
the Dead don't profit fable Phil Lesh was reading when the
and sends each of the group was still new, are people who die
before their time. They come back as

: ' You know, life is like a
'wheel. The teeth are d.f-
ferent colors, and they all
come around again. Life
isn 't ending, just
Fepetitive. But I still don't
eat meat.'

One of the advantages in a repertory
company is that smaller parts are not
passed off as unimportant, but are
given to good actors who are playing
larger roles in other plays within the
repertory. Unfortunately, this worked
to the advantage of The Acting Com-
pany in Thursday night's production of
Broadway. Much of the acting in
smaller parts far outshone the leads
and thus produced a play highlighted by
scattered good moments.
The aim of The Acting Company is
certainly an admirable one. They are a
group of 16 well-trained actors and ac-
tresses selected from such training
programs and regional theaters as Yale
and Juilliard. They funcion under the
artistic direction of the highly respec-
ted John Houseman and have perfor-
med across the country. So, The Acting
Company is not the standard truck-in
touring group cranking out show after
show at selected stops along the route,
but they are instead a skilled company
dedicated to quality theater. Yet,
despite the presence of some obviously
very fine talent, there was a certain
something sorely lacking from Broad-
A SHOW such as Broadway requires
pizazz and a street-wise snappy air to
make it come alive. The energy level
was insufficient to bring vitality to a
show which had the potential to be lots
of fun.
Broadway was written by George
Abbott and Philip Dunning and first
produced in New York City in 1926 with
the simple story taking place at the
Paradise Nightclub in the late 1920's.
Paraded through the backstage area is
the biggest set of amiable
stereotypes ever to be brought out of
the Prohibition era. There is Steve
Krandall (Charles Shaw-Robinson) the
gangster bootlegger who's not above

shooting a man in the back, Billie
Moore (Harriet Harris) the "perpetual
virgin" chorus line danced that Steve
falls for, Roy Lane (Tom Robbins) the
hoofer ever on the lookout for that lucky
breakm Nick Verdis (Richard Ooms)
the "greasy Greek" nightclub
proprietor and of course a charmingly
assorted crew of chorus girls. However,
director Gerald Gutierrez played the
leads as dull and one-dimensional in-
stead of having fun with the types of
stage characters we all know and en-
gangster head lacked the necessary air
of cool confidence and was so ineffec-
tual that it appeared as if his henchman
should have been the ones to boss him
around. Many of his potentially electric
moments fizzled out due to a lack of
energy and his match with Harriet
Harris's simpering innocent Billie did
not contain one spark of illicit ex-
The chorus added a bright accent as
they jumped to the sound of the buzzer
calling them to do their acts in an array
of deliciously tacky costumes ranging
from kitty-cats to Spanish fltnenco dan-
cers. Lise Banes added some per-
sonality to the group as Mazie Smith,
the gum-cracking hoofer with a heart of
THE REAL stars of the show weren't
those in the lead roles but rather
Claudia Wilkens as Lil Rice, a wonder-
fully gutsy, life-worn singer, and Mat-
thew Kimbrough as "Porky" Thom-
pson, one of Steve's henchmen, who
falls for the rather ample Lil. Ms.
Wilkens' husky voice and studied
slouch made Lil the most endearing
character in the play. Porky. and Lil
formed a lively, if unlikely duo, and
shared the funniest scene in the play
when they returned from a wildly

The Ann Arbor Film Cooperative Presents at MLB:
Saturday, November 10
(James Bridges, 1979) 7T& 9:15 MLB3
Even if Three Mile Island had never happened, this film would have been worfh
seeing for Jane Fonda's performance as an ambitious "happy talk" television
newswoman who rises to the challenge of covering a nuclear, near
holocaust. JACK LEMON and MICHAEL DOUGLAS (the film's prdducer) are
her co-stars.
Next Tuesday: Stephen Spielberg's JAWS AT Aud. A.
Dresden Staatskapelle
Sunday, Nov. 118:30
Hill Auditorium
Student Rush Tickets available at Hill Auditorium Box Office
11:30 a.m.-12:00 noon today. $3 each-limit 2 per person.
in its 101st season

drunken brawl to reveal their newly
acquired wedding bands.
The stage was a colorful, art-deco
backstage ,dressing room, complete
with gaudy pink and organge pillars
and a winding staircase which director
Gutierrez used well in creating acting
areas on different levels. The set and
costumes had a polished look which was
unfortunately not matched often
enough by polished acting.
After the play ended, the company

returned dressed splendidly in black
and white tails and sequined flapper
dresses. To the tune of "Puttin' on the
Ritz" they proceeded to do the
equivalent of a show-stopping number
with tap-dancing, singing'and energy to
spare. If the cast had projected as
much razzle-dazzle in the course of the
play as it did during the curtain call
number, Broadway could have been
quite a rousing fun production instead
of a rather mediocre one.

,. 1

5 usicians', a birthday card. She hit-
chhiked 500 miles once to see a concert,
and another (of 27 total) was attended
even with a temperature of 1040.
Jo Yaffe is a dead head.
Her allegiance to the band began in
1967 when she was 16. In those days,
Yaffe remembers, "I wore thigh-high
boots, short skirts, and hung out with
hippies. The weirder I could get, the
better. And the Dead were sufficiently
"It was new and exciting to see this
band and recognize people there.
Sometimes I'd rent a bus with 40 or 50
people to see a concert in another city.
That was the biggest gas. A few other
(bands) were equally deviant, but they
didn't bind like the Grateful Dead."
Feeling a part of this congregation of-
fered Yaffe a sense of security she
hadn't gotten from her family or
society, and by 1970, she was a full-
fledged fanatic.
ON DECEMBER first of that year in
Boston's Music Hall, Yaffe was near
the stage,, screaming for rhythm
guitarist Bob Weir. Other fans were
throwing roses to the musicians. "Bob-
by picked one up and threw it to me,"
Jo remembers. "It was a shared glory
- because it made my day and
everyone else's who was with me."
The spirit of this situation is
precisely, Yaffe believes, what makes
the Grateful Dead different; they care
about their fans. They'll play a song if
you yell for them to do it, or sometimes
let you backstage, or throw a rose.
During the height of hippie-dom,
following the band provided an identity
within a culture that had already
rebelled against "mom and apple pie"
and fraternities and sororities.
(Ironically enough, Yaffe was elected
president of Mortar Board, the Senior
Women's Honor Society for Scholar-
ship, leadership, and Service to the
community at the University of
Massachusetts. "I was too stoned at the
time to know what was going on," she
laughs at herself.)
The functions of being a deadhead
served the same purpose as those of an
organized religion," Yaffe explains. "I
had a family, a neighborhood. There

ghosts and do good things for the living;
they symbolize a continuance of life.
IN YAFFE'S experience, the Dead
have lived up to their name. Wading
through memorabilia in her apartment,
she found old letters from the band in-
viting her to special concerts for Dead
"brothers" only. There was even a
handwritten reply concerning a check
Jo had sent for Ugly Rumors posters.
Dated July, 1974, it read: "Posters (for
which no charge) are en route to you.
Here's your check.-Thanks for the nice
letter. Caroline."
Now 28, Yaffe is working on a disser-
tation about treating the spouses of
alcoholics, though she says she would
have preferred researching the cultural
phenomenon of band followers. Like
most deadheads, Yaffe is not only
nostalgic about her years with the
Dead, but still growing with their
music. She lives alone, "in
bourgeoisie," because "when I live
with others I never get work done. And,
I want to finish here alread."
LISTENING TO one of her favorite,
albums, Live Dead, Yaffe suddenly got
excited: "Can you hear it?" she asked.
"The music spaces in and out. You have
to relax because if you set your mind on
a rhythm, you're out of it. They change
so often . .
Back to discussion of her present,
somewhat middle class lifestyle, Yaffe
says her career is important, but not an
end-all. Her ultimate living situation
reflects her hippie roots:', "I'd like a
farm in the foothills of the Berkshires
with goats and chickens."
Live Dead played on while Yaffe sat
comfortably in her chair. "You know,"
she said after a while, "life is like a
wheel. The teeth are different colors,
and they all come around again. Life
isn't ending, just repetitive. But I still
don't eat meat."


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