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May 03, 1979 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1979-05-03

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Page 6-Thursday, May 3, 1979-The Michigan Daily
FINAL 'BROADWAY' SHOW TYPIFIES POOR SEASON:

5Your Arms' too short on talent

By JOSHUA PECK
Just before finals, when most
students, mercifully enough, were
locked in the libraries studying, the
Professional Theatre Program
unleashed the last and worst of its 1978-
79 Best of Broadway series, Your Arms
Too Short to Box With God.
It's been a rough year for Best of
Broadway subscribers. Early on, the
group opened a new production of The
Sound of Music, which would have been
fine, had the show been of a
professional caliber. It wasn't. These
seven months later, I can still remem-
ber the orchestra, whose members
either thought they were performing
the complete works of Anton Webern,
or had heard an elementary school en-
semble just before the performance,
and thought it might be fun to try it that
way for a change.
NEXT WAS California Suite, which is
not only a Neil Simon play (strikes one
and two), but is a bad Neil Simon play
(strike three). Enough said.
In the winter, things -begin to look up
a bit, as Side By Side By Sondheim, a
showcase for some of the composer-
lyricist's best work, was brought to the
Power Center stage. This is the only one
of the Broadway four that I missed, but
word was that the songs were faith-
fully and fitfully rendered.
Your Arms Too.Short to Box With God
Vinnette Carroll, Alex Bradford, and Micki
Grant
PowerCenter
April 2-22

With the final debacle, though, the
season lapsed back into the abyss it had
opened in the fall. Your Arms Too Short
to Box With God is not a terrible show,
but it is a phenomenally silly one. It
takes a potentially moving story, the
Passion, and robs it of virtually every
element of interest. Borrowing heavily
in imagery and style from the ar-
tistically superior Jesus Christ Super-
star does not help very much at all, as
the factors that artists of various
stripes have traditionally used to make
Jesus' final days evocative and
meaningful are precisely those that
have been omitted from Vinnette
Carroll's "soaring celebration in song."
Like assigning the good Lord's earthly
incarnation a character of some kind.
Here he is a mannequin, lifeless even
before the Crucifixion. He is tossed
mercilessly about, from Judas to a
split-personality Mary (one dances, the
other sings, but neither can act), to a
clump of priests who sing a powerful
three-tiered harmony, but are upstaged
first by their grotesquely grandoise
costumes and then by the lyrics they
must earnestly spout: when a
Jerusalemite accuses Jesus of heresy
or some such thing, they musically
remark, "One more witness like that,
and we'll nail this man flat." Not quite
on a par with Longfellow.
BUT I'M STRAYING from the point,
or at least what I imagine Carroll,
Bradford, and Grant wanted to be the
point. Arms Too Short is not really con-
cerned with plot, or any other such ar-
chaic vestiges of the traditional

Jesus ..........
Preacher.......
Singing Mary ..
Dancing Mary.
Judas ....

...........Elijah Giii
William-Keebler Hardy
....Gwendolyn Fleming
Q. Quinceila Swyningan
.i...Rlaph Farrington

Crown of thorns
Mary comforts Jesus while an innocent bystander looks on in the Professional
Theater Program production of "Your Arms Too Short to Box With God",
staged last month at the Power Center.

Vinette Carroll, director; Grenoldo Frazier,
musicadirector; Talley Beatty,
choreographer; William Schroder, se'
and costume desiner.
A PTP Best of Broadway production.

STARTS TOMORROW
' MON-TUE-THUR 7 & 9
FRI7& 9:25
SAT 1-3-5-7-9:25
SUN & WED 1-3-5-7-9
" ---11--*
A chilling story interwoven with
comedy..- -sex.........terror!
ELLOT T GOULD SUSANNAH YORK CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER
MLES JULIE REIKLE
oinenu wanusus anxu nn M lt ~ll
'UN"

theater. It is primarily a gospel
songfest, focusing on the wonderful (?)-
gifts the Lord has bestowed, as skim-
pily enacted in Act I. Indegd, the inter-
mission left one wondering where the
show could possibly go, as" the Lord
already had been crucified and raised
to Heaven. Act II met that difficulty
with elegant simplicity-and silliness.
The biblical time frame was simply
abandoned. For the entire second act,
the cast is back in church (as it was at
the show's beginning?, singing and
testifying through a series of six songs
that explores new frontiers of insipid-
ness.
William-Keebler Hardy is the
preacher man whose dream it is to tie
the whole mess together. A dream it
remains. But then, is organized super-
fluousness any better than complete
chaos?.

Rock 'n write
It's time to stop complaining about
those "awful Michigan Daily
rock'n'roll reviews" and start writing
them yourself! Yes, it's true - the
Daily Arts page needs some people to
start covering rock concerts and things
like that. Don't worry - you don't
really need to know anything, although
an appreciation of loud music would
certainly help.
We're also looking for people to write
about "serious" music, dance, prose,
poetry, fine arts, and theatre. Just call
the Daily at 764-0552 and ask for the Ar-
ts Editor if you're interested.

The Ann Arbor Film Coopertifve presents at Aud. A $1.50
THURSDAY, MAY 3
LAST TANGO IN PARIS
(Bernardo Bertolucci, 1973) 7 & 9:15 AUD A
MARLON BRANDO appears as a sexually aggressive expatriate who embarks
on a three-day affair with Jeanne (MARIA SCHNEIDER), a young modish
Parisienne. The affair is a purely physical, isolated experience, and the apart-
ment an island in which are examined certain aspects of human relationships.
With JEAN-PIERRE LEAuD. "A film that has made the strongest impression on
me in almost twenty years of reviewing."-Pauline Koel. Music by Oliver Nel-
son and Gato Barbieri. In English and French, with subtitles.
Tomorrow: Woody Allen's BANANAS and CASINO ROYALE

I

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