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October 06, 1971 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-10-06

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Page Two


Wednesday, October 6, 1971

Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY Wednesday, October 6, 1971

Power Center opening: Gala,.

gowns and




The Grass Harp:
actors not ready
for Broadway
The new Power Center for the Performing
Arts is not completely finished. There are
still some areas which lack carpeting, the
stage is not completely finished, and neither
is The Grass Harp, the Professional The-
ater Program's gala premiere production.
This is indeed unfortunate, for the cast
that .was acquired for this production is
known the world over, and despite their
well-known names, they can't pull it off.
The Grass Harp, as rewritten from Tru-
man Capote's novella of the same name and
adapted for the stage by Kenward Elmslie,
is the story of two maiden sisters, Dolly
and Verena Talbo (Barbara Cook and Ruth
Ford), who live with their nephew Collin
(Russ Thacker). When Verena brings Dr.
Morris Ritz (Max Showalter) home to bottle
Dolly's dropsy cure, the hassles begin.
Dolly, Collin and Catherine Creek (Carol
Brice) run away to live in a tree, where
they are joined by Judge Cool (Wesley
Addy) and Maude Riordan (Christine Sta-
bile). Maude is Collin's "special girl" and
eventually there is a relationship develop-
ing between Judge Cool and Dolly. The
five are joined in their tree by Babylove
(Celeste Holm) and her brood of infants.
The story itself is fun but fantasy, and the
music is well written. Unfortunately, at
times during the first act the orchestra
completely overwhelms the performers, and
whatever they are singing is heard only by
the wings.
All the actors are hampered by this, with
one exception. Carol Brice has a fine voice
and singlehandedly carries the show. Her
voice is never overpowered by the orches-
tra, nor does she ever overpower the other
singers-a difficult feat indeed.
Celeste Holm, billed as the star of the

-Daily-David Margolick

Inside scene
mixes stories
stars, stares
Keeping time with the chim-
ing of the bells in Burton Tow-
er, the belles of Ann Arbor
strolled into last night's gala
inaugural ceremonies at the
Power Center for the Perform-
ing Arts. Lush and lavish were
the guests and lush and lavish
their surroundings for the pre-
miere of Truman Capote's play
The Grass Harp.
"Good evening, welcome to
PowerCenter, we hope you en-
joythe play," usher Allen Rams-
by greeted the guests. "That's
my line," chuckled Ramsby, one
of a cotillion of ushers attired
as befits the very best of En-
glish undertakers.
Gossip occupied the crowd.
People walked through the Cen-
ter, staring at one another and
the building itself, and stopping
from time to time to stare at
themselves in the mirror-fin-
ished windows.
Those who came to the cen-
ter last night were no hoi poloi
-among the group were such
notables as President Robben
Fleming, former Regent Eugene
Power (R-Ann Arbor), actress
Helen Hayes, author Truman
Capote, Gov. William Milliken
andnumerous University offic-
ials and representatives.
The pre-play gossip last night
revolved mostly about the build-
ing and its opening rather than
the performance of the Grass
There will be informal ques-
tion and answer sessions with
the following people today at
10 a.m.:
Nancy Hanks and W a lte r
Kerr will be at Mendelssohn
Theater and Julius Rudel will
be at the studio of Josef Blatt
in the music school.
"Look at the windows! they're
mirrors," one glittery g u e s t
chirped at her escort.
"Power? Wasn't that the Re-
gent who resigned?" "...Uhuh,"
This particular exchange ran
through many conversations but
it seemed more a reminiscence
than an indictment or a smudge
on a bright and glistening eve-
Former Regent Power, whose
family donated $3 million of the
$3.5 million construction costs,
seemed relieved that opening
night had finally arrived. "It's
the culmination of a long strug-
gle," he said. Power seemed to
pale before The Daily reporters
and then complained that "ac-
tually, this lobby is noisy."
The Michigan Daily, edited an4 man-
aged by students at the University of
Michigan. News phone: 764-0552.-Second
Class postage paid at Ann Arbor, Mich-
igan, 420 Maynard Street, Ann Arbor,
Michigan 48104. Published daily Tues-
day through Sunday morning Univer-
sity year. Subscription rates: $10 by
carrier, $11 by mail.
Summer Session published Tuesday
through Saturday morning. Subscrip-
tion rates: $5 by carrier; $6 by mail.

-Daily-Jim Judkis

Helen Hayes receiving an honorary degree

show, adds show and nothing else. She have a name star to attract the crowds.
alone of the actors is never heard, either The rumor in show business is that every-
in her few speaking lines or her singing. wherielshowmgosnesl is
But the star that she is, she constantly where Celeste Holm goes, Wesley Addy is
looks a star. She smiles she waves she is sure to be. The crowds and producers of
, w s s this play got no bargain with Addy. He
on stage and the audience is aware of that. can't move, he can't sing and he can't act.
Miss Holm, although a fine actress, has no . .. .
Showalter is fair in his role, but it seems
part in this production, and it is unfor- that the older men in the show have a great
tunate that the casters felt it necessary to deal of trouble coming across to the audi-
ence. Showalter in his dealings with Verena
does not come across to the audience, but
perhaps this can be attributed to Miss Ford.
Ford overacts-there is no other way to
describe it. She has, at times, difficulty
carrying a tune, and then carrying the tune
over the orchestra.
Although the same could be said of Miss
Cook's singing, by the middle of the first
act when she sings "If there's enough
love," her soprano carries over the or-
Thacker is good, although his role is
rather ill-defined in terms of his age. Is
he 16 or 21-the audience is never sure,
.4 .rya sKbut we are sure that his movements have
become more graceful than when he ap-
I 'peared in "Your Own Thing." Although at
times his voice also is drowned out by the
ry orchestra, he does display a strong voice
which carries well after his first song,
< "Dropsy Cure Weather."

During his term as Regent,
Power became the subject of
controversy when it was re-
ported in The Daily that his,
firm, University Microfilms, had
copied volumes from the Uni-
versity libraries.
And noisy the lobby certainly
was, especially after Power and
his family arrived. President
Fleming had to push his way in
through the crowd, and then,
there was an explosion of flash-
bulbs, a coalescing of curious
reporters crowding in on the
One older couple seemed par-
ticularly interested in the fes-
tivities, since their family had
previously lived on the site of
Rackham Hall, across the street
from the Power Center. Harold
Groves, Sr., said he had planted
a tree which now grows in front
of Power Center. "We're old
timers," his wife chimed in. She
added that there was once a
cemetery and a park at the site.
The Groves now live in Barton
Hills, "near the Powers."
After a while it was hard to
decide who was a celebrity and
who was just one of the beau-
tiful people. Everyone dressed'
somewhat alike, but instead of
the uniforms that customarily
stroll about campus-the jeans
and the tee-shirts-there were
dinner jackets, tails, long dress-
es fashioned distinctly out of
anything but Indian print bed-
Only three students had been
invited to the festive premiere
- University Activities Center
President Jeffrey Kaplan, '73;
Daily Editor Robert Kraftowitz,
'72 and Student Government
Council President R e b e c c a
Schenk, '73.
"This place reminds me of the
basement of Shea Stadium," re-
marked S G C Administrative

Vice-President Jay Hack, '73,
who had escorted Schenk. Hack,
attired in a chartreuse dinner
jacket with matching ruffled
shirt, appeared unruffled by the
surroundings. Schenk, clad in a
black sheath gown of high school
prom vintage commented that
the Centrt 'reminded her of
George Orwell's novel, 1984.
Kraftowitz, (ressea casually,
was accompanied by Daily Ex-
ecutive Editor Jim Beattie, '72,
who decked himself out in tails
and a top hat. Neither editor


mood." This was P r e s i d e n t
Fleming's first time inside Pow-
er Center, and he forecast that
it would serve the University
community well.
"Remind me to wear my dark
glasses," Truman Capote mused
to no one in particular and
again there was a. burst of flash
that didn't subside until he had
left to pick up the ticket that
someone had forgotten to give
him ahead of time.
"I wonder if the Associated
Press has anyone up there,"
wondered a beautiful person who
sagely noted that WWJ-TV was
But as the celebrities con-
vened in the Power Center lob-
by, a small crowd of scruffy
onlookers gathered outside to
stare at the stars. They just
stood there, ogling at the groov-
iness beyond the doorstep.
And there was no mistaking
it. Inside Power Center there
was pure unadulterated, unevis-
cerated grooviness. How often
does it happen that professors
and regents and executive offi-
cers and The Daily editor and
theStudent Government Coun-
cil President and Helen Hayes
and Truman Capote and local
business persons, all get to-
gether for a night on the town,
bedecked in formal wear?
A sort of glistening madness
" exuded from the very circular
staircase, the mirror-windows,
the' sweeping foyer, and the
madness propelled the gathered
persons towards wildly animated
outbursts to punctuate t h e i r
long cool stares.
So here they were-Ann Ar-
bor's finest. The cream of the
crop, as it were, but there were
oh so many crops that sent
their harvest to Power Center.


-Daily-Jim Judkis
Truman Capote
had a comment for The Daily
reporters but they both smiled
a lot.
President Fleming, after trav-
ersing the crowds of onlookers
presented a jovial appearance.
"I think it's an exciting build-
ing," he said. Fleming said he
was looking forward to a "won-
derful night," and noted that
"everyone's in such a happy

But there can be no doubt as to the star
of the show-whether she receives top-
billing or not. Without Miss Brice, who has
only been rehearsing with the company one
week, the show would fall on its face. Not
-Daily Jim Judkis all the beautiful and adaptible scenery, nor
the glamour of a new theatre could make
Set for 'The Grass Harp' up for not having Miss Brice. She sings,
she acts and the show is hers.



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