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June 15, 1979 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-06-15

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Page 6-Friday June 15, 1979-The Michigan Daily
'Berlin to B'way' shames Weill

By STEPHEN PICKOVER American jazz, blues and Broadway
The best aspect of the Black Sheep schlock into his work. He continued to
Repertory's Berlin to Broadway with write until his untimely death in the
Kurt Weill is the informative program, 1950's while working on a musical ver-
a treasure trove of Weill sion of Twain's Huckleberry Finn. His
trivia-collaborators, dates of original early works, Three Penny Opera, The
openings, their locations and the like Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagoney,
are all listed. This production can also Happy End, The Berlin Requiem and
boast the most inept and misguided Der Jasager to name a few, are
direction the Rdpertory Theatre has chillingly brilliant compositions. Weill'
ever seen. It practically ruins the work was a master at creating horror, a sen-
of a fairly talented cast and leaves se of foreboding and decadence
one's facial features permanently utilizing odd but haunting chord
distorted from cringing so often. progressions, especially diminished
The show itself, as the title suggests, chords.
moves from Weill's early career in
Berlin in the 1920's and early 1930's with THE DIRECTOR Owen Anderson
Brecht and Lotte Lenya, to his escape tries and often succeeds in finding
from Nazism (to France) and finally to every method possible from the songs.
America where he quickly assimilated Witness Act I, the majority of which is

Brecht-Weill collaboration and, gran-
ted, the most difficult to perform. It
opens with a selection from the Three
Penny Opera-"How to Survive."
What keeps a man alive
He lives on others
He likes to taste them first and eat
them whole if he can.
Forgets that their supposed to be his
That he himself was ever called a man.
Remember if you wish to stay alive
For once do something bad, ayou'l/ -
The cast members look as though
they were all runners-up in a Big Red
Rock Eater look-alike contest. The
mugging is silly and unbelievable and
the audience feels mirth rather than
Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill
Black Sheep Repertory Theatre
Thru July 1
Curotyn Tjon
Taom Emmott
Angelina Fiordellisi
Mathew Thornton '
David Johnson
Owen Anderson, director;
Mathew Thornton, musicaldirector
shock. Next came the "Barbara Song,"
concerning a woman's unsuccessful at-
tempt to stay perpendicular. This
would be fine, were it not for the' two
men flanking her, who resemble sacks
of potatoes. The pantomiming of songs
is taken to utter extreme with horren-
dous results. In "Pirate Jenny," a
vengeful, queer ballad, the soloist is
"aided" by her fellow singers, incom-
petent hula dancers who describe the
action with primitive hand gestures.
Brecht and Weill need no help, thank
ACT II HAS two fast-paced show
stoppers, "How Can You Tell an
American" and the "Saga of Jenny,"
both of which not only have great poten-
tial for imaginative choreography but
by their very nature demand it. In the
former, a very patriotic number, An-
derson has one of the cast enter dressed
in stereotypically American tourist

garb-Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirt,
lei, straw hat, camera, tour book and
candy bar. While amusing at first, he
draws focus away from the words and
thoughts Weill wanted to ex-
press-namely those of a land free of
oppression. In the latter, Angelina
Fiordellisi sings the solo fairly well and
sticks in some dancing-a few twirls in-
terspersed with a kick or two. Not very
exciting, though the potential and
energy are apparent.
FIORDELLISI IS definitely the most
energetic and best prepared of the five
singers. Her "Surabaya Johnny," while
a tad on the Latin side owing to her in-
flections, is well done. She would be
wise to tone down the histronics to
make her a bit more ,sympathetic. The
only one in the cast with a fluid sense of
movement, she manages to be
believable most of the time, though she
suffers from excessive mugging.
The tenor and soprano, Tom Ennott
and Carolyn Tjon, are uneven in their
performances. Emmott would do well
to learn his part. There were several
unsure entrances Wednesday night, too
many to excuse as opening night jitters.
Emmott has a sweet tenor, and while
his acting needs work, expressiveness
is evident. However, he tends to scoop
for his high notes, a tendency quite
common but not forgivable with tenors.
Tjon is both terrific and atrocious,
frequently in the same song. In "My
Ship" she is concentrating so much on
hitting her high notes that her lower
register was frequently out of pitch. She
is perky, though, in "That's Him."
The whole company forgets words
and repeats verses incorrectly.
Mathew Thornton and David Johnson
(narrator) romp through their num-
bers. Thorton's "September Song" is
nice, but his vocal placement is too far
back. Johnson has trouble with
phrasing, especially in connecting the
staccato notes in "Lost in the Stars."

Michael Schultz' 1975
Chicago locales, Motown soundtrack and vocational high school in 1964. If
all sounds like a reverse negative of American Graffiti, it's purelf intentional,
("Welcome Back Kotter") & GARRETT MORRIS ("Saturday Night Live"). In
color and by the director of Richard Pryor's WHICH WAY IS UP.
Short: DATING DO'S AND DON'S (1933)
CONRACK (Martin Rift, 1974)
JON VOIGHT, this year's winner of the Academy Award for best actor, stars
as a schoolteacher in a small Black island community. Although his efforts
to teach the youngsters about the outside world are combatted by the school
administrator (HUME CRONYN) who wants to maintain the status quo, he
succeeds in touching both the hearts and minds of the island's residents.
A heartwarming and moving film for the whole family: kids are welcome.
(t06min) 7:30 & 9:30
Aud A Angell Hall $1.50
Tomorrow: HARD TIMES (Walter Hill, 1975)

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