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November 20, 1977 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-11-20

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'Piano Man'

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, November 20, 1977-Page'5
Joel comes to Hill7

Daily Photo by JOHN KNOX
Director Joan makes a point
A musing Joan Rivers
'h o wsunamusing film
By JEFFREY SELBST diet what the audience will be thinking,
and then to otutra e them - But she needs

JOAN RIVERS' new film was given a
J sneak preview Friday afternoon at
Angell Hall's famous Auditorium A, the
cinema showplace. Yawn. It was called
Rabbit Test or something. It was about
this guy who gets pregnant. Hee hee.
And he's in love with this Russian or
Romanian peasant gypsy girl. So nu?
Joan Rivers was brought up, obvious-
ly, on TV. The movie reeks of TV -
stock situations, crummy background
music, and a few amusing one-line type
jokes and sight gags. But there is no
structure, and the humor is all rather
tried-and-true, or at any rate weak.
The film, as Rivers proudly told the
audience after the screening, was made
for a scant $977,000. She said that this
was accomplished due to the cutting-
out of extraneous items, such as limou-
sines and lunches at Elaine's. But this
economy was really achieved at the ex-
pense of the movie.
THE FILM looks cheap. The shots
are bad, the acting is atrocious (partic-
ularly by Alex Rocco, who played the
cousin and talked at just an incredible
speed; Doris Roberts, the mother; Joan
Prather, who played Segoynia - an
inane parti, the lighting is amateurish,
and the whole project looks like low-
budget TV f.re.
Most of the famous actors in the film
had small cameo roles, and played
themselves watch). One such was Se-
goynia's mother - Imogene Coca (and
as funny as ever). Other bit players in-
cluded Flip Wilson (the voice of God),
Paul Lynde (the "wacky" gynecolo-
gist), Alice Ghostley (his nurse), Rich-
ard Deacon (a TV newscaster), Roddy
MacDowall (Segoynia's grandmother
sic), George Gobel (the President of.
the U.S.i and Fannie Flagg (his wife).
Rivers said that all these stars worked
for scale, which would seem necessary
to keep costs down. I can see why. I
would work for the warm and wonder-
ful Joan Rivers for free.-
But the subject of the film was inane,
and the structure nearly nonexistent. It
wasn't even free-association. Few
scenes had any association with any
BUT W1lY NOT? Rivers is a terrific
stand-up comic, and she works best
without a hampering structure. Her
monologues are free-flowing, dealing
with whatever's at hand, inserting that
New York Jewish self-deprecating hu-
mor. interacting with her audiences at
every turn.
Well, she can't do that here. Her audi-
ence can't react - this is, after all,
celluloid and she can't make that
pointed, perfect outrageous comment
at the precise moment, because it was
all done months ago, on location. Thus
she tries to be spontaneous by proxy,
and it just doesn't work. That is to say,
to take certain situations and try to pre-

d11U~~~ 111LUUU6C 111. DL 1 IC
an audience to try it out on.
Which is why she came to Ann Arbor.
She needed an intelligent audience, and
presumably, one of film buffs, to help
show her where she succeeded and
where she failed.
quick throwaway shots of a church
called "Our Lady of the Perpetual Mo-
tion," and a hospital called "Christian
Science Memorial." She succeeded in
the opening shot, a sight gag in which
the film's hero, Lionel Carpenter, tur-
ns out to have been propositioning an
inflatable doll, which pops and goes
shooting around the room. She succeeds
with the entire scene in Segoynia's fam-
ily's house, where the grandfather
makes rude Italian gestures at Lionel
for telling him that Ed Sullivan is dead,
where Lionel asks to go to the bath-
room, and everyone covers their eyes
with their hands.. .
She fails in character development
(why does Segoynia leave, really? If so,
why did she come back to him?), with.
the clumsy plot development, with un-
answered questions (how is he going to
deliver this baby? In what organ did it
grow?) and with pointlessly heavy-
handed skits like the Nativity takeoff at
the end. Please.
The character of Danny was unneces-
sary and quite unfunny. The scene,
where he tries to proposition old women
at the USO is pathetic. The character of
the mother (or is that ciricature) is
near-unbelievable. Yes, yes, I know -
she's a takeoff - but even that kind of
vulture would love her own daughter,
and I don't think this vulture did.
Amusing parts also included send-ups
of (at least) Network (when the mother
screams out the window, and all the
neighbors answer in unison), Young
Frankenstein (a quote from that "doo-
doo" line, - very subtle, that), and
probably many other quotes that [
didn't catch or from movies I haven't
I think Rivers' great style is more
suitable for Saturday Night Live-type
skits than for Hollywood. And I will, de-
spite this bomb, continue to love Joan

A T 8:15 FRIDAY night the lights
went out at Hill Auditorium, and
the enthusiastic audience began the fir-
st of several standing ovations as Billy
Joel and his band appeared on the
stage. Joel responded by performing
two hours of solid music, including
three encores with the group and one
final solo selection.
He opened the set with "The Stran-
ger," the powerful title cut from his
latest album. Dressed in a gray suit and
Puma track shoes, Joel exuded pure
showmanship from his station at the
piano while his well-organized back-up
group followed just as impressively.
Complimented by a well-balanced
lighting display, the group steamed
through twenty-two songs from Joel's
four Columbia albums.
Billy Joel's compositions range from
lyrical ballads to high-energy rockers,
and all were warmly received by the
near sell-out crowd. The cheering was
loudest for his hits "Piano Man" and
"The Entertainer," and his' current
single, "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)."
Joel encouraged the audience rapport
with his onstage demeanour; looking
like Rocky in a business suit, he did a
little solo boxing, and by the end of the
concert he had shaken the hands of half
the people in the first row. He seemed
slightly awed by the tremendous recep-
tion he received, but he deserved it all.
BILLY JOEL is one of the most awe
some keyboard artist in the current
music scene this was most evident on
tunes like "Travellin' Prayer" and
"Root Beer Rag,' as he attacked the
keys with lightning speed and clean
precision. Two songs from his LP Tur-
nstiles also conveyed this quality;
"Prelude/Angry Young Man" was
marked by Joel's use of both piano and
synthesizer. "Miami 2017 is an explo-
sive song about the imminent destruc-
tion of New York; Joel moved fluidly
over the keyboard as he sang,
They sent a carrier out from Norfolk
And picked the Yankees up for free
Thesad that Queens couldstay
TIhy biew the Bronx atit
And sank Manhattan out at sea
Switching from acoustic to electric
piano, Joel performed a tender rendi-
tion of "Just The Way You Are," one of
his finest songs from The Stranger.
Saxophonist Richie Cannata's accom-
paniment was particularly impressive,
as was his performance on the blues
number "New York State of Mind."
Liberty DeVitto attacked his battery of
drums with boundless energy, but care-
fully restrained himself through the
quieter tunes. At times the volume of
the band was such that Billy Joel's
piano could not be audibly distinguish-
- - thru Novembere30
* Intaglios
1 David r. Driesbach
* gallery one
* Tues.-Sat 11-6:30 113 S. Fourth Ave I
* sun. 2-65662-914
siEm - - i--- ---.

Probing theatre's past

I' ~ IIflAVf

D RAMA AND THE theatre have
come a long way since all actors
were denounced as "Rogues and Vaga-
bonds" in the 16th century, as the PTP
production of the same name deftly il-
lustrates this weekend at the Trueblood
Theatre. Guest Artist-in-Residence
Nicholas Pennell and an actress of the
Stratford Company, Marti Maraden,
presented an evening of informal lec-
ture, monologue, dialogue and anecdote
- devised by Michael Meyer - to give
an often comic, often touching narra-
tion of the history of the theatre.
Beginning, with critics, the pair read
a series of scathing attacks on the mor-
ality of actors and playwrights, which
also commented on the nature of drama
as an essentially demoralizing venture.
-A narration of the emergence of great
playwrights from Shakespeare to Con-
greve was highlighted by a pathos-filled

reading of a blind writer's interpreta-
tion of Congreve's address, while the Music by
playwright himself was old and blindWILD B !
reflecting on his lifelong love for aWIDBL
chaste actress, Ann Bracegirdle.R df
PERHAPS the best dramatic selec-
tjon performed by Pennell and 618 CHURCH
across from the Blue Frogge
See ROGUES, Page 7
* /
1 1
The Department of Romance Languages
U in
1 1
Information Meeting -;
Monday, Nov. 21 -7:30 P.M.
Fourth Floor Commons
Modern Languages Building
Iw!!w! !!!!! w ! !'wrYIO

ed, but for the most part, the audience
was allowed to appreciate his full
THE FIRST set ended with two
popular songs from the Piano Man LP.
"The Ballad of. Billy the Kid" again
showcased Joel's keyboard virtuosity
and the power of his band. "Captain
Jack" brought the audience to its feet
once again, as Joel's emotion-charged
vocals conveyed the stark imagery of
the song. One of the encore songs,
"Only The Good Die Young," had the
crowd swaying and clapping in time to
the music, along with sporadic instan-
ces of dancing between the seats.
For the final song, "Souvenir," Billy
Joel came onstage alone and left the
audience calmed and quite content. His
concert was a staggering delight, a
credit to the performer who has earned
the self-imposed title of "the Piano
Man." Joel's prominence in the music
world continues to grow, and hopefully
it won't be long before we hear from
him again.

Billy A


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