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December 02, 1979 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-12-02

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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, December 2, 1979-Page 7

Simon-ized show not so sweet

In performing comedy, especially
that of Neil Simon, good timing is a
must. Unfortunately, the 1979 Soph
Show production of Sweet Charity star-
ted off at a snail's pace and never
picked up, causing this musical comedy
to limp to its overdue final number.
The Soph Show is a yearly endeavor
designed to give talented freshmen and
sophomores a chance to act, direct, and
produce a show. Sweet Charity has all
the ingredients of a good choice-up-
beat music featuring the well-known hit
"Big Spender," a large cast complete
with a company.of sleazy dance hall
girls, and a light script sprinkled with
humorous one-liners. But, somehow
this production lacked the usual Soph
Show vitality needed to make it work.
lead role of Charity Hope Valentine,
was sadly miscast. Although she was
obviously trying very hard, she lacked

the vocal and dancing talents necessary
to bring life to her many numbers. She
picked up well on a few lines, but
overall seemed too self-conscious. She
failed to project the gutsy yet
vulnerable qualities of the dance hall
girl with a heart of gold who's always
unlucky in love.
If there's one thing almost as
disastrous in comedy as bad timing, it
is anticipating the audience's laughter.
Director David Goldstick had his actors
point funny lines straight at the audien-
ce and in case that wasn't enough,
pauses were added to make sure that
there was a realization there had been a
joke. The actors rarely spoke their lines
to one another, but instead talked at one
another and the listeners. Granted, Neil
Simon plays are not character studies
or involved exposes on relationships,
but this directing technique caused the
interactions to sound hollow and insin-
cere, while losing much of the humanity
of Charity's various predicaments.

There was a glimmer of hope as
Charity's fellow dancers at the Fan
Dango Club appeared in their brightly
tacky costumes exhibiting the wonders
of sequins. But, the girls projected a
sense of boredom which was all too in-
fectious. Donna Rutt, as statuesque
platinum blonde Helena, huskily
delivered some funny lines, but blended
into the group as the girls went into a
series of tired bumps and grinds.
AS VITTORIO VIDAL, the movie star
who befriends Charity, Douglas Sills
was appropriately cool with his rolling
R's and patent-leather hair. He
possessed the strongest voice in the
company on his song, "This is Too
Many Tomorrows." Robert Stromberg,
as Marvin the dance hall"loser, and
Karen Brasch, as a waitress, hostess
and various other roles, were the only
members of the chorus who possessed
any personality.
The orchestra had some nice jazzy in-

terludes as the cast and crew went into
their many scene changes-but poor
organization added to the time lag.
However, therewere few songs where
the orchestra and singers worked
together. Charity's big number, "If
They Could See Me Now," was perfor-
med haltingly with singer and in=
struments out of synchronization.
Mitchell Cohn added some interest to
the second act as Oscar, the sweet but
shy type who falls for Charity while
they are stuck in an elevator. But, his
relationship with Charity possessed no
sparks and gave the audience no par-
ticular reason to care when he, too,
finally leaves Charity.
As is often the case at a Soph Show,
the audience at Sweet Charity was
loaded with friends and relatives and
they enjoyed the play. But, hopefully
this production will not stand as a good
example of the kind of work that talen-
ted theatre students are capable of

Now Accepting Applications for
Summer Internships 190
Liberal Arts Students who will be Seniors Fall Term
1980, are encouraged to apply.
Applications and Information available in 1223 Angell Hall
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Residency brief but bouyant

Tickets at Burton
Weekdays 9-4:30,

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Sat. 9-12. Phone (313) 665-3717

For many musical academicians,
the transition between the classroom
and the performing stage is a difficult
one to make. Karl Burger has bridged
this gap successfully by incorporating
the patient rigor and discipline of the
classroom to spontaneous, free form
improvisation. At the conclusion of a
three-day residency in Ann Arbor,
Berger performed Friday night in the
Pendleton room in the Michigan Union
in both a solo context and as the leader
of an "orchestra" of local musicians.
As director of the Creative Music
Studio in Woodstock, he has developed
a disciplined approach to improvisation
known as "Basic Practice" that has
been utilized and expounded by free
form masters such as Cecil Taylor, An-
thony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell
among others. During the course of
workshops and lectures this week,
Berger attempted to impart his
theories and, general. attiude toward
music to ambitious local musicians,
culminating in the group performance
THE EVENING began with solo
vibraharp and piano excursions by
Berger. On vibes he provided concrete
proof of his theoretical directives; in-
corporating the full tonal range in a
style diversely energetic yet always
accurate that belied some kind of con-
stant underlying-structure.
This dramatic approach, though
sometimes sonically startling and
dissonant, was held together by an off-
the-wall discipline reminiscent of
Theolonious Monk. On piano Berger
was considerably less substantial, sub-
stituting a stream of tricky ornamen-
tation and noodling ideas in place of any
significant melodic direction. Back on
vibes Berger truly shone, integrating
the harmonic and percussive potential
of the instrument in an exciting style
that puts Gary Burton's tonal game-
playing to shame. Structuring his im-
provisation into a number of shorter
pieces rather than a single drawn-out
flow, he allowed both himself and the
audience a chance to relax in the face of
inherently demanding music.
THE SECOND HALF of the program
put Berger's theories to the real test. To
put a group of 15 presumably
unacquainted musicians through a
coherent collective improvisation is an
ambitious task, to say the least. For the
majority of the evening, the group was
extremely cautious, building gradually
into three and four note patterns,

University of Michigan
Department of Theatre and Drama


by: Steve E.Carter IFebruary 20-241
Directed by: Mel Winkler
guest artist-in-residence

Auditions: Dec.



Daily Photo by DAVID HARRIS
Karl Berger conducts a unit of Ann Arbor-area musicians in the Pendleton Room Friday evening. Berger's show was
the culmination of the European artist's three-day residency at the University.

by: S.N. Behrman

repeated behind Berger's leadership
and solo attempts. Caution was indeed
the byword here, as the majority of the
performers seemed reluctant to step
out stridently, understandably due to
the general unfamiliarity of the
situation. A notable exception was
flautist Sue Pilla who contrasted some
melodic work with a shrill, breathy ex-
tended jam that directly drew from
Berger's inspiration. The remaining
soloists seemed intimidated by
Berger's formidable presence or sim-
ple inexperience; despite the intensity
of his solo the guitar player seemed
oblivious to the rest of the group.
The only problem here was the time
limitation. But even by the end of
Friday's group performance, things
were beginning to fall together. Star-
ting with a medieval-sounding ensem-
ble playing the group slid into an up-
tempo, big band groove that elicited
some inspired sax soloing and more hot
ensemble work. As a concert, Karl
Burger's Ann Arbor performance visit
produced decidedly mixed results, but
as an educational experience (for
listener and musician alike) it was
exemplary. Next time he should come
back for a more substantial period of
time and the music that results will be
interesting on more than a purely con-
ceptual level.

F. ansin women,
animate Ark crowd
Let's have a big hand for the Bosom Buddies all-women string
The East Lansing based quartet came down to the Ark Friday
night for an evening of old-time music that was, though not spec-
tacular, adequate and well received. The group had folks up dancing
and spanking their hands together, and they showed a small but ob-
viously knowledgeable crowd that the traditional music scene up
around MSU has a very great deal to offer.
While Ann Arbor currently has no real working string bands, East
Lansing has three (Bosom Buddies, Lost World, and Hartack and
Pigsfeet), plus the regular barn dances and traditional music perfor-
mances. Ann Arbor fiddlers and banjo players are known to venture
up to Lansing to join in the jam sessions there, but the converse-with
the exception of events like Friday's concert-is seldom true.
IT WAS NOT ALWAYS the case. Ann Arbor used to be quite the
spot for square dance and string band music, but when musicians like
Craig Johnson, Martha Burns, Bill Miller, Tim Stickle, Karl Willmson,
and now Rose Sinclair move on, it is difficult to keep everything up to
Another Ann Arbor musician who left was Karrie Potter, the
mandolin and guitar player for the Bosom Buddies. She sees the
traditional music scene in Ann Arbor as having a strong backbone,
though the problem of talented individuals being lured away is very
obvious. "The reason we have a bigger base up in Lansing is because
of the Elderly Instruments," she says, pointing out that all four Bosom
See LANSING, Page 8

Directed by: M.E. Friedman

(February 6-91

Auditions: Dec. 5-7
See sign up p
sheets outside of Room 1502 in the Frieze
Building. Read all instructions carefully.


14 Geddes -

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