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January 28, 1973 - Image 3

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Michigan Daily, 1973-01-28

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Sunday, January 28, 1973

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Three

Sunday, January 28, 1973 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Three

God-spells out
Bible to music

By ALVIN CHARLES KATZ'
Godspell, a musical based upon
the Gospel according to S t.
Matthew, directed by L a r r y
Whitely, musical arrangements
by Stephen Schwartz, conceiv-
ed by John-Michael Tebelak,
presented by the University's
Professional Theatre Program
January 27, 28 at Power Cent-
er. Cast: Tom DeMastri, Kate
Draper, Mary-Pat Green, Mich-
ael Hoit, Sherry Landrum, Sid
Marshall, Melanie Mayron, Su-
san Morse, Jeremy Sage, Jef-
fery Winner.
Godspell, the latest offering in
the Professional Theatre Pro-
gram series, opened Saturday af-
ternoon before a full house at the
Power Center, and had a brief
love affair with the audience dur-
ing its two and one half hour
duration.
A sort of synthesis of Jesus
Christ Superstar and Hair, God-
spell is based (rather loosely) on
the Gospel according to St. Mat-
thew. Begetter John-Tebelak
takes this fundamental body of
religious material and turns it
into a slapstick clown show. The
result is a real rarity - piety
without solemnity. Everything is
presented with the' reverence
due it, and conceived so disarm-
ingly that not even the most de-
vout Christians could take of-
fense.
The ten member cast performs
on a set which consists of little
more than three planks, t w o
=sawhorses, and some wire fence.
After an incongruous beginning
which attempts to portray t h e
Tower of Babel by having t h e
cast quote 'such philosopher-heav-
ies, as Socrates, Martin Buber,

Thomas Aquinas and Buckminist-
er Fuller, first individually and
then simultaneously, the show
gets off the ground as Jesus 4p-
pears in clown makeup and joins
John and the cast in "Prepare
Ye the Way of the Lord," the
first of many songs based di-
rectly on the Gospel. The cast.
proceeds to trot out every trick
in the clown's bag to act out
such parables as the Woman
Taken in Adultry and the Prodi-
gal Son. Interlaced with these
are countless biblical precepts
(Love thy neighbor, Turn t h e
other cheek,' Blessed are t h e
meek) and some good comic imi-
tations, ranging from R i c h a r d
Nixon to John Wayne to Groucho
Marx to the Wicked Witch of the
West. Jesus presides over all the
festivities, leading the disciples
down the road to good clean liv-
ing.
At the heart of Godspell a r e
Stephen Schwartz's music and ly-

rics, a wonderfully eclectic com-
bination of rock, jazz, gospel,
and show tunes. What is amaz-
ing is how well all these go to-
gether. "All For The Best," a
charming soft shoe, is followed
by "All Good Gifts," a moving
gospel number. Schwartz seems
to have found a wining c o m-
bination of frivolity and rever-
ence, and the wide divergence of
musical styles allows the play to
retain the vitality of its begin-
ning throughout.
The production was first-rate,
with some exceptionally creative
lighting designed by Spencer
Mosse and wonderfully innocent
and functional costumes by Su-
san Tsu. The show was truly a
group effort on the part of the.
cast, all of whom seemed to
exude a real enthusiasm for their
roles, as well as quite a bit of
talent. Godspell uses interchange-
able roles, which means that at
different performances, certain
players play different parts. In
Saturday afternoon's perform-
ance, I particularly enjoyed Tom
DeMastri as Jesus and Melanie
Mayron, both of whom shone
above a generally strong ,cast.
Sid Marshall, Graham Hubbel
and Dale Rehfeld were also par-
ticularly good. r-
Perhaps what I like b e s t
about Godspell are its warmth
and childlike innocence, and its
sense of humor. The only time
Godspell becomes strained 'is
when it starts to take itself too
seriously. As a joyous, festive
celebration of Christian g r a c e,
the play works beautifully with
its contagious love thy neighbor
type attitudes. As a statement of
Christian doctrine, it falls flat.
For a few uncomfortable minut-
es during the play's portrayal of
Judas's betrayal and the cruci-
fixion, the play loses its sense of
humor, and becomes "kitsch";
before the end, however, God-
spell rediscovers the magic in-
gredient, and with almost s u r-
prising ease portrays the descent
from the cross and the Resurrec-
tion, beautifully accomplished as
the cast carries the martyred
Christ back onto the stage in
joyous song.
Godspell is really a lovely lit-
tle show. It is one of the more
refreshing and entertaining mu-
sical events to come to Ann Ar-
bor in a while, and anyone lucky
enough to get tickets for one of
the four performances will have
difficulty not enjoying the show.

By MIKE HARPER
Friday night at -the Power
Center, a rather sparse crowd
gathered to hear John Hartford
and Norman Blake, and if au-
dience reaction is any indication,
the fine art of country music is
doomed to an early death.
The concert was segmented
into five sets, two by each ar-
tist, and an informal "hoedown"
at t h e e n d. Unfortunately
though, this arrangement some-
how "slanted" an apparent play-
ing time advantage to Blake
who, in comparison to Hartford,
proved to be a repitious, un-
imaginative artist of little "real"
entertainment value.
Obviously the audience favor-
ite, Blake opened the show with
an old standard "Know. What It
Feels Like to Be Lonesome,"
and proceeded to prove himself
a reasonably capable, technical-
ly-proficient guitarist and an
adequate, twangy-country vocal-
ist. He was backed by banjo-
player Edward "Doctor Feel-
good" Cullis, a rather staid and
ineffectual performer whose ma-
jor purpose it would seem was
to make 'Blake's tirelessly-long
guitar runs appear even flashier
than they actually were, con-
tinuing needlessly on and on and

on.
"Weaving Way" was a typical
Blake - led instrumental. Good,
in a few spots, but flashy to the
point of musical mediocrity,
"Way suffered from too much
repetition and too little original-
ity. "Doc" Cullis took brief
command during another instru-
mental, "Blackberry Blossom,"
but his "slight" runs were equal-
ly as guilty of repetition, his
playing as equally standard coun-

on Hank Williams . ."
Three rather unusual songs
showed Hartford's versatility. A
long and winding "Hitchcock"
song, "I Would Not Be Here,"
played on the reasons behind
reasons, whereas "Don't Play
Your Records In the Sun" was
about "the ecology of phono-
graph'records," including "brok-
en ones"-Hartford constantly
repreating the phrase "just
won't play." "Six O'Clock Train

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Country music

*0 0

doomed early death?
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Daily Photo by TOM GOTTLIEB
John Hartford

te

Directing can't mouse up'
Christie-lized plot

toni ght
6:00 2 60 Minutes
4 News
9 UFO
50 Star Trek
56 Movie
"Grand Illusion" (37)
6:30 4 NBC News
7:00 2 TV 2 Reports
4 George Pierrot-'gavel
7 Movie
"The Lions Are Free"
9 Engelbert Humperdinck
50 Lawrence Welk
7:30 4 World of Disney
8:00 2 M*A*S*H
7 FBI
9 Good Life
50 Mancni Generation-Variety
56 An American Family
8:30 2 Mannix
4 Hec Ramsey
9 Bandwagon
50 Johnny Mann's Stand
Up and Cheer
9:00 7 Movie
9 Sunday at Nine
56 Masterpiece Hheatre
50 Golden Globe Awards
9:30 2 Barnaby Jones
10:00 9 Weekend
See LISTINGS, Page 10

Rome.
Before Christ
After Fellini.

By MITCHELL ROSS
The Mousetrap, by Agatha
Christie, directed by Josh
Pachter, presented by the Jun-
ior Light Opera January 26,
27, Mendelssohn Theatre.
Agatha Christie's The Mouse-
trap, presented this weekend by
the Junior Light Opera, is no
more operatic than a tin horn,
but far more entertaining. In-
deed, it has played without in-
terval for nearly 20 years in
London, and West End impres-
sarios are not known to have any
notions of closing it down in the
near future.
The work is a "whodunit,"
very much in the old mold which
Dame Agatha has cut out for
herself over the long years of
her writing career. Mousetran
holds many twists and surpris-
es, and it certainly would not be
very nice for a reviewer to re-
veal too much of the story. Nor
would it be prudent to offer too
many criticisms of a work which
has held enough people at the
edges of their seats to prove its
worth, within its special c a t e-
gory. Suffice it to say that one
person, who has long been a fan
of hard-boiled detective fiction,
finds in "The Mouse Trap" that
surfeit of eccentricity which has
never greatly endeared him to .
the work of Agatha Christie.
In this work, five characters of
varying peculiarities are gather-
I -

ed in the guest house of young
Mr. and Mrs. Giles Ralston, lo-
cated in the countryside s u r-
rounding London. It is the depth
of winter, 1952, and everyone is
snowed in.
Through various interferences
by each of the characters, a sha-
dowy mood hangs over the scene.
A police detective-sergeant, Trot-
ter, comes to the house on skis,
in order to investigate the sus-
pected'presence of a murderer
among the guests. From there,
the story is carefully orchestrat-
ed. A murder brings the first act
to a close, and the second act in-
volves a complex resolution of
the case.
There is, as I mentioned, a
heap of hocus in all this, but so
is there in nearly every success-
flil detective yarn. The acting.
in Friday night's performance
was uneven, with the most ma-
ture performances coming from
Lorel Janszewski as Mollie Ral-
ston, and director Josh Pach-
ter as Major Metcalf. Peter
McIver is promising but unpol-
ished as the homosexual, frus-
trated architect, Christopher
Wren. The audience greatly en-
joyed Lawrence Segel as Mr. Pa-
ravicini, but I, for one, am dub-
ious of Italians who talk like
Count Dracula. The rest of the
cast does not fare quite so well,
but there is little purpose here
in extensive ridicule.
Pachter's direction is adequate,
but sometimes a bit dull. He,
prefers to show his characters
frozen in space, rather than ani-
mated in thought. As often hap-
pens in productions where t h e
director takes a part for him-
self, Pachter's own character,
Metcalf, suiffers most in this par-

ticular respect, and carries on all
activity from a single corner of
the stage. This is due to a very
natural iyopia, but it, nonethe-
less, looks foolish.
In all but about three cases,
the "English" accents are deep-
ly flawed. I wonder why direc-
tors dealing with young and fair-
ly inexperienced casts find it
worthwhile to burden both actor
and audience with this brand of
hooey. The Mousetrap has very
little to do with Britain, in any
social sense, so why be so con-
cerned with preposterous pro-
nunciations?
Finally, director Pachter shows
a preoccupation with another
brand of authenticity which serv-
es little purpose. Although The
Mousetrap has frequently been
undated and Americanized," he
writes in the program notes, "we
have chosen to present it as its
first audiences saw it 20 years
ago." Now, if Pachter has some
particlar fascination with t' h e
period of the early 1950's in Eng-
land, that is his business - I
see no reason for his having to
make it his audience's. This
practice simply drains from the
vitality of the piece, and is other-
wise an encouragement to lazy
minds.
These remarks are directed to-
ward a performance that is in
many respects quite decent, and
in the understanding that this
particular production will h a v e
closed out by the time that this
review appears. Hence, none will
be driven from seeing the show
due to our criticisms, which are,
perhaps, a bit too finicky. We
wish the Junior Light Opera
well, and expect its continued
improvement.

try in an innovative sense. In
other words, musically unimagi-
native.
Dedicated to Bill Monroe,
"Uncle" would seem to be a
lyrical number, but here Blake
uses his own words in an "in-
cidental" fashion, using them on-
ly as "filler material" between
instrumental breaks. Never a
considerate instrumentalist in
any sense, Norman Blake is a
decadently - wasteful guitarist
and, as well, a crowd pleaser
for that reason alone: with his
flashy sense of music, audiences
will continue to applaud his un-
fortunate work probably until
"death" do they part .. .
Fortunately, John Hartford
was there to rightfully entertain.
Opening with a strangely - rear-
ranged, punning version of "The,
Pledge of Allegiance," Hartford
introduced a number of songs
from his two most-recent albums,
Aereo - Plain and Morning'
Bugle, as well as a variety of
tunes from the past and present.
Accompanying himself on banjo,,
guitar or fiddle, Hartford show-
ed the audience an entirely - dif-
ferent - directed artist, who de-
pended less on a desire to pro-
vide instrumental flash; rather,
he presented a more-pleasing
combination of simpler, more-
dignified music and pleasing, in-
terestingly - innovative lyrics
mixed with a warm touch of self-
humor.
Using a special lower-tuning
of F on his banjo, Hartford per-
formed "Old Joe Clark" light-
heartedly, the banjo sounding in
smooth accompaniment and com-
pliment to his deep and ragged
voice. In particular, Hartford
seemed to be entertaining him-
self mumbling private jokes
during an inspired version of his
own "Steamboat Whistle Blues."
Another Aereo - Plain song, ded-
icated to Walt Disney and the
emergence of the new Disney-
land of sorts, but country-orient-
ed, Opryland, complete with
rides - Hartford quipped at one
point, "it costs a quarter to ride

and a Girl With Green Eyes" was
a semi-tragic love song in an ex-
cellent country / blues sense,
featuring sedately-soulful guitar
and vocals.
Hartford ended his portion of
the evening with a "dope" song,
somplete with "a drum solo" for
all the adoring dopers in attend-
ance. The song, the delightful
"Holding," did indeed include a
drum solo of sorts - performed
by Hartford on various parts of
his head and face.
Overall, John Hartford is cer-
tainly an engaging and interest-
ing artist. A capable instrumen-
talist and a somehow - calculat-
ing vocalist, he takes country
music. and transforms it into a
growing and workable "modern"
art, rather than just replaying
its roots in the "country classics"
sense. He is never overly-ser-
ious about country & western;
rather he overcomes this ten-
dency and maintains his sense of
humor. Thus, the final result is
light-hearted and alive, never
overly flashy or wasteful in any
musical - or lyrical - sense.
Simply, good and very listen-
able music.
To conclude, if country music
is to survive, it will have to
turn to its John Hartfords for
talent and a show of imagina-
tion. Without the Hartfords, c&w
will have to count on the trivial
Norman Blakes, who see country
music as a relatively "dead"
art, depending on re-hashing tra-
ditional forms and such, with the
end result being tired, overstat-
ed songs with nothing more than
"flash" to depend on. This idea
can also be seen in the audi-
ence's warm response to Blake,
for if the audience -is willing to
let the performer get by on
flash alone; - and not imagina-
tion - then the artist has no
one to goad him on, and he too,
will be satisfied with medioc-
rity. As with any true art form,
country music certainly deserves
a better fate.

An ALBERTO GRIMALDI dPucdion
FELLNI
SATYJO'
(English Subt ites)
COLOR by Deluxe PANAViSIW
R E Umited Aritsm
TUESDAY & THURSDAY
Modern Languages Bldg.
AUD. IlIl
7:30 & 9:30 P.M.
Admission $1 .25
NEW WORLD FILM COOP

Due to overwhelming response
will be conducting new
GROUP LESSONS IN GUITAR
Beginning January 29th
Rental instrument kits are available at a
nominal charge applicable toward purchase
of the instrument. Private and group les-
sons are also available in guitar, flute, re-
corder, banjo, and drums.
For information call 769-4980
A4h dt6i I tumic tapt
336 S. STATE MON.-SAT. 9:30-9:00

.
DRAMA-Professional Theatre Program presents Godspell
at Power Center today at 3, 8.
FILM-T.V. Center Film shows Singer's Art: La Bonne Chan-
son today on Channel 4 at noon; Cinema Guild plays
Sanjine's Blood of the Condor at the Architecture Aud;
7 tonight at 7, 9:05; Cinema Guild presents the Clint
Eastwood double feature: Fistful of Dollars and The
Good, the Bad, and the Ugly at 7, 9 tonight in Aud. A
of Angell; Psych 171 Film Series play Factory tomorrow
in the UGLI Multi-purpose Room 4.

HELL, UPSIDE DOWN
Who will
survive-in
one of the
greatest escape
adventures ever!
PANAVISION@
COLOR BY DELUXE@
Soon: "SOUNDER"

I

UNDERGRADS-GRADS !
,ELI
For the hottest corned beef,
pastrami, franks . .

Free Adult Education Catalogue

NATIONAL GENERALS
V 375 N. MAPLE RD.
769-1300

FEATURE TIMES
Mon. - Fri.: 7:15 and 9:40
Sat., Sun.: 2, 3:50, 5:45, 7:45, 9:10

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call: 763-4321 or pick up: 1946 Beal Ave., North Campus
an Enriching Experience This Winter

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HILLEL- 429 Hill

CINEMA GUILD
-SUNDAY-
BLOOD OF THE CONDOR

Sun. at 6 p.m.

dmpwftrr.

-J

P-

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Dir.
and
Ann

Jorge Sanjines, 1965, Bolivia
Indian dialect. An obscure
Arbor, but extremely famous,

Spanish
film for
in South

FLIP YOUR LID ... you'll bowl 'em over on campus.
Use this easy :t and next rap session in your pad, the :<'s r
bathroom will speak for itself. If you can count, you can
paint your toilet seat or any other surface with zappy looks
from our "Paint Your Seat" kit. (Landlords can cool it,
because the paint comes off easily with paint remover.)
Each kit contains eleven different supergraphic designs
with paint-by-number color codes, carbon paper, five
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structions: $3.49 ppd.

0

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