arts & entertainment
The Michigan Daily--Saturday, April 7, 1979--Page I
Town: A bit off
By JOSHUA PECK
From its opening in 1944 to its second
The New York Times. It has been
described as innovative, droll, witty,
and last revival in 1963, On The Town and clever. So far as I have been able to
has had nary a nasty word said about it determine, no critic has ever called the
in that maker and breaker of theater, Bernstein-Comden-Green collaboration
a rousing Success
BY NINA SHISHKOFF
Never has the Gilbert and Sullivan
Society given a better performance H.M.S. Pinafore
than the opening night of their latest W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
production, HMS Pinafore. Never? tydia Mendelssohn
Well, hardly ever. It is also rare that- Aprils-8 and 12-14
Lydia Mendelssohn Theater boasts
such an enthusiastic, thunderously ap- Ralph Rackstraw ............ David Parks
plauding audience, but this time the Josephine ................Kathy Simpson
plaudng adiene, bu thi tim the Captain Corcoran............. Mark Kramer
usually competent G & S society had Buttercup................Julie Tanguay
something extra to add to their unifor- Sir Joseph Porter ........... Beverly Pooley
mly good singing and striking set Director, Cher Sussman
design: The Good Ship Pinafore, an
operetta with which it is practically
impossible to go wrong, because if it's
good, it's excellent.
Subtitled "The Lass That Loved A Sailor," it is about exactly that. The lass is
Josephine, the captain's daughter, and the lowly sailor is Ralph, and despite their
different-stations in life, the plucky pair have fallen in love. Complications develop
when Josephine's father attempts to push the union between his daughter and Sir
Joseph Porter, the acerbic ruler of the Queen's Navy.
Newcomers to the society, Kathy Simpson and David Parks, play the lead roles
of the lovers. Simpson is pleasant, though her voice is not as full as the difficult
singing part demands, but Parks is a truly remarkable vocalist: The potentially
soupy "A Maiden Fair To See" positively.sparkled in his rendition.
Veteran Ann Arbor stage performer Beverly Pooley was a sublime Sir Joseph.
Every line he pronounced dripped with the appropriate thick condescension.
Director Cher Sussman steers the Pinafore briskly: No scene drags and none of
Gilbert's questionable puns are allowed to sink the moment. Though the
choreography is often a bit sloppy, the cast members moved about expertly,
gracefully effecting the challenging scene transitions.
Not only is the orchestra livelier than usual, but the supporting cast, including
Mark Kramer and H. Lee Vahlsing as the good Captain Corcoran and Evil Dick
Deadeye, and the charming Julie Tanguay as Buttercup, adds depth and richness
to the production.
It is a longstanding tradition to encore the rousing "Never Mind the Why and
Wherefore" at the eginning of the second act, and the cast is prepared. For each
succeeding encore - and there were five on Thursday night - they devised in-
creasingly wacky routines, ending with Sir Joseph exploding part of the set.
Traditional encores or not, the audience enthusiasm was genuine. All of them
would certainly say that, for those unfamiliar with the joys of Gilbert and Sullivan,
this is the production to see.
Roxy Music returns
to wow Masonic fans
a creaky, prehistoric behemoth before.
But seen through a pair of 1979 eyes
with even slightly sophisticated vision,
it is nothing more than that.
Bernstein's songs are the show's
greatest attribute, which is saying very
little. The best numbers, "New York,
New York" and "Lonely Town," rank
with the worst of the composer's later
hit, West Side Story.
ONCE UPON a time, Betty Comden's
and Adolph Green's contribution to the
show was racy and bright. No longer.
One is reduced to laughing at lines that,
in any finer context, would not even
bring a smile: A fat old dowager of a
voice teacher titters, "Sex and art don't
mix . . . If they did, I'd have gone
straight to the top."
WE TURN THEN, to the current
Musket production, which bears an ex-
pectable mix of pleasures and
problems. At times, it takes on its un-
meritorious material nobly. At others,
it rolls unhappily with the punches the
book delivers, and frantically scram-
bles in an attempt to make it all seem
Brian Cook, Scott Kaiser, and Joe
Urla are Gabey, Ozzie, and Chip, the
three sailors with 24 hours to rollick
away in the "Big Apple." Cook ekes out
a performance that is the best of the lot,
conveying with elan his compulsive
desire to meet his dream girl (Susan
Titus). Cook, too, possesses just about
the best untrained voice I've ever
heard; without smooth transitions bet-
ween registers or any vibrato to speak
of, Cook wafts out a warm and torchy
"Lonely Town," and an energetic
"Lucky to be Me," complete with
pleasantly hammy touches.
SCOTT KAISER has funny bits in
chasing his victim, Ellen Sandweiss,
around, but as Chip, Joe Urla is just Joe
Urla. Two out of three ain't bad,
The ladies all have their strong poin-
ts. Ellen Sandweiss gets funnier every
time she shows her face on stage, and
here she delightfully mismanages both
her affairs to great comic advantage.
Karen Keckler, saddled with the bonus
task of pulling Urla along, fares won-
derfully well as the man-crazy cabbie,
though the moronic weight of "I Can
Cook Too" does its best to make her
SUE TITUS has not one, but two ad-
versaries within the production: script
and choreography. In "Miss Turnstiles'
Song," Titus must prance and pirouette
for some five minutes about absolutely
nothing. Are we really to believe that
the joy of being crowned the subway
queen can keep her hoofing for that
long? The number could conceivably
have been funny had it laughed at itself,
but; like too far much of the show, there
is nothing even remotely tongue-in-
PART OF THE fun of "big city
shows" (Guys and Dolls, West Side
Story, Annie) is seeing the artistic
Music: Leonard Bernstein
Book & Lyrics:
Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Chip ......... ............... Joe Urla
Ozzie........... ...........Scott Kaiser
Gabey.......... ............Brian Cook
Hildy............ .. Karen Keckler
Claire........... .. Ellen Sandweiss
ivy ....Susan Titus
Madame Dilly................Pat Rector
Pitkin W. Bridgework ..............David Clark
Lucy Schmeeler ............... Mary Spengler
James Martin, director; Jan Schleiger,
rhoreoxrapher: Leif Bjanland,
instrumenta ldirector; Richard Frielund.
set designer; R. Craig Wolf, lighting.
treatment of New York's hustle, bustle,
and busy-ness. In this particular,
Schlieger's work was not bad. It is
Richard Frielund's abominably
vacuous sets that play the culprit. A
prime example is the Nedick's set, the
front of a hot dog stand that sits not in
the Mojave Desert, as Friedlund seems
to think, but in the busiest intersection
in the world. A barren stage, then, is not
. On The Town is an unsubtly fraemen-
ted show. Never does a strong scene's
momentum have a chance to carry off a
succeeding, weaker scene. Partially at
fault for the disjointed feeling is a sort
of a subplot inflicted on the mainraction
by the authors. A gradually growing
Scott Kaiser, Brian Cook, and Joe Urla are the three sailors who cut utp the
town during shore leave in New York City in Musket's production of "On The
Town." The show plays this afternoon at two and again this evening at eight.
contingent of incensed New York
natives chases the three sailors madly
about for a series of mischievous deeds
the lads have perpetrated. Certainly
some business was necessary to cover
set changed, but why lifeless
foolishness like this? Ruthie Egler does
her Granny Clampett best to spice up
her part as the leader of the mob, but
she could no more succeed than turn
wine into water, or more exactly, bring
the dead to life.
That director James Martin thinks
little of the musical comedy genre is'too
often evident. The disjointed sensation
was in part the fault of his inattention to
continuity in individual-characters and
the production's spirit as a whole. His
Inspector General in February was
fine, though, as has been his dramatic
work. All he needs to do, clearly, is
avoid styles for which he has a respect.
And Musket, for its part, should stay
away from groaning brontosauri like.
On The Town.
All Medi Company*
YOU NEVER KNOW
WHAT THEY'LL DO NEXT
April1.3 &A14 8:00pm ,.$50
TICKETS-Michigan Union Box Office
Sponsored by MI Student Assembly
Union of Students for Israel present
the award-winning film
The real story of Entebbe
UGLI Multipurpose Room
By MIKE TAYLOR
From the mechanical primitivism of
"Re-make/Re-model," which Devo
later picked up, to the bleeding organ
and anti-plastic sentiments of "In
Every Dream Home A Heartache,"
which Elvis Costello has successfully
adopted, to the detached, cool ambien-
ce of their stage show, which Talking
Heads and scores of other new bands
have imitated, Roxy Music has always
been ahead of the game.
Though they broke up on the eve of
the New Wave, their music has sur-
vived in the statements of the
generation they helped raise and in a
fractured form on solo albums by lead
singer Bryan Ferry and guitarist Phil
Manzanera. And now, after all but a.
few of the once radical New Wave ban-
ds have disintegrated or entered the-
mainstream, Roxy Music is back, and
stronger than ever.
THEIR NEW ALBUM, Manifesto, is
a bit subdued, and some will be
bothered by the subtle disco influences,
but it nevertheless contains the classy
melodies, striking lyrics, and deft in-
strumental passages we've come to ex-
pect from Roxy Music albums. More
importantly, their Thursday night con-
cert at Masonic Temple in Detroit was
nothing short of a triumph.
"I am for life around the corner that
takes you by surprise.. ." sings Ferry
at the beginning of "Manifesto." The
house lights went off without warning
shortly before 9 p.m., and a curtain was
pulled away briskly to reveal a star-
tling set. Huge, pyramid-like pillars,
tinted a yellow-green by the lights,
reached from all sides of the stage to a
point high above the spot where Ferry
would stand most of the night. Drum-
mer Paul Thompson, keyboardist
David Skinner, and bassist Gary Tibbs
were already onstage, pounding out the
rhythm that opens "Manifesto."
Guitarist Phil Manzanera and
saxophonist Andy Mackay strolled on
from the sides to play the melody parts,
and after several minutes of this, Ferry
stepped into view to sing. Of all the new
songs; "Manifesto" makes the
I am for the man who drires the hammer
To rock you 'ill the grare
His-pwer drill hocks
_.: lionil iilex away
1 Iam forthe revolutin'srcoining
I dow'fknow where she's been .
With his hair trimmed short and
slicked-back, Ferry looked like a con-
servative businessman, and danced
like one, even though his suit was made
of bright red leather. His microphone
cord was of course the same hue as his
suit. With the futuristic Greek temple
behind him, and the five other band
members staying neatly in their
positions, all the dreams about Fe rry
See ROXY, Page 8
ANN ARBOR CIVIC THEATRE
Production Dates May 31, June 1, 2 3
Power Performing Arts Theater
Performances of 8 p. m. and 3 p.m. on June 3rd only
6 Show Girls
(&.ft. or taller)
April 4, 6:7:30-10:30 p.m.
April 7: 9:30 a.m. until
April 7: 7:30 p.m. Coil
All in the Studio Room, Michigan Women's League. For info,
The cast requires all ages, we must have women and men
from ages 20 to 50.
Follies is a lovingly sentimental look at a nostalgic era of theatre "between the
wars." The music is glorious both in old fashion and contemporary styles. The
show has a feeling of reminiscence that all can shore, plus great dramatic
All styles of singing and dancing will be used (and is needed) in this show.
The dancing will include top, high kicking chorus lines, ballroom, Spanish,
etc. The singing is belt, legit, cutesy. love songs, torch songs, and talky.
Fri., April 6 and
Sat., April 7