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May 20, 1977 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-05-20

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Page Five

I Anesthetized 'Anastasia'
Awakens in angst-filled Act II

AS THE CURTAIN ROSE on the opening Act
of The Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's production
of Marcelle Murette's Anastasia in the Mendels-
sohn Theatre 'Wednesday night the inevitable
first impression was one of disappointment. On-
stage three awkward, mechanical caricatures
stumbled through, dialogue and nervously pre-
calculated movements in an effort to impersonate
three shrewd, intelligent and even rather aestheti-
cally-inclined characters.
Basically the plot concerned the efforts of an
enterprising Russian prince and his associates,
an artist and a banker, to produce a reasonably
convincing facsimile of the princess Anastasia,
daughter of the last czar of Russia, Nicholas II.
The czar's family had been murdered by the
Bolsheviks but a rumor persisted that the young-
est daughter had somehow escaped and, after
attempting suicide, had been committed to an
PRINCE BOUNINE, more concerned about
cashing in on the legacy a convincing imposter
might accrue than in actually discovering any
truth in the rumor, discovers a poor woman who
accurately fits the description and whose mind
had become so completely dissheveled from her
institutionalization that she herself isn't thorough-
ly convinced of her true identity. She is tutored
by Bounine and friends in the finer points of royal
behavior and then sent out to meet her critics
for the final test. Somewhere along the line she
begins to remember facts that her tutors had
not supplied and the true source of her identity
becomes more complicated.
Bill Cross as Prince Bounine and Leo MacNa-
mara and Don Prieur as Chernov and Petrovin
gave stiff, unconvincing performances of the
master minds behind the plot. Rather than cre-
ating solid, imposing figures they over-played
their individual characteristics and settled into
cliches. Disagreement was bellowed out and
irony was delivered in unnaturally high-pitched
tones. When questioning the princess they bat-
tered her head from side to side awkwardly,

eliciting uncomfortaile giggles from the audi-
A CONFRONTATION in authority betwveen Boo-
nine and Counsellor Drivinitz (Josep'h Medrano)
was staged belly to belly, with the contestants
exchanging glares which attempted to gain in
intensity as they raised with each round above
the opponent's head. Again ~te audience's re-
sponse was laughter.
The second Act fared progressively better. The
set was lavish and beautifully designed, the work
of Alice Crawf)rd. The costumes by Eric Losey
were equally impressive. And the introduction
of Nancy Heutel as the crusty, skeptical Dow-
ager Empress seemed to affect all of the act-
ing, as if it were improving werely by the pow-
er of association.
HEUSEI, WHO WAS elegantly costumed, de-
veloped her role with personality and class. ier
Ironic tones were well-placed and effective and
the entire performance suddenly took a turn
for the dramatic. The scene where Anna (Cathe
Wright) tried desperately to convince the dow-
ager that she was he granddaughter was abso-
lutely moving. Wright's performance came alive
with warmth and conviction, and, as she re-
lived the horror of the execution, her anguish
was chilling.
The dowager empress, who acted as the cata-
lyst in the unfolding of the mystery, became the
catalyst of the drama as well, which became
rapidly intriguing.
Several of the performers in minor siles also
merit commendation. Dayton Benjamin as the
sleigh driver and Margaret Mussiales as the char-
woman were particularly convincing. And David
Marshall lent a particular charm to his portrayal
of Prince Paul.
-in all the performance was finally quite mov-
ing. As the dowager empress was grudgingly be-
ginning to acknowledge the veracity of Anna's
story she told her. "Please, if it should not be
true, don't ever tell me." This is the final senti-
ment of the audience as the play draws to a
close, and the final decision is wisely left to
the imagination.

Cat he Wright as Anastasia
Havin' A Wild Week end?

What better way is there to
celebrate Lindbergh's 50th anni-
versary flight than to rent a hot
air balloon for a leisurely lift
this weekend. Both Balloons
Ascension Unlimited (485-1526)
and Cameron Balloons' (995-
0111) are available for the thrill-
seeking type.
But if you have acrophobia,
you can always stay at home to
celebrate tonight and watch
Billy Wilder's 1957 film, The
Spirit of St. Louis (Ch. 13, 8:30)
starring Jimmy Stewart.
At the co-ops: The Invitation,
a Swiss Cannes prizewinner to-
night (And. A, 7:30 & 9:30); The
PapertChase (MLB 3, 7 & 9);
and the Peter Sellers classic
The Pink Panther (MLB 4, 7 &
9); Peter Bogdonavich's Last
Picture Show (Arch. Aud., 7:30
& 9:30)'
On Saturday, Cinema Guild
presents Wertmuller's pseudo-
sophisticated Swept Away (Arch.
Aud., 7:30 & 9:30); Cinema II
screens Middle of the World
(And, A, 7:30 & 9:30); and~ Ann
Arbor Film Co-op presents a
Roger Corman fest, featuring
the superb Bucket of Blood
(MLB 4, starting at 7) and a
Bruce Lee double bill in MLB 3
with complete shows at '7 &
Sunday's offerings i n c 1 u d e
John Ford's silent classic Steam.
boat Around the Bend in the
Arch. Aud. at 8 for free and an
experimental film program fea-
turing a f i m by Storm de
tirsch, who lectured yesterday,
starting at 7 in MLB 3..
cuts-up at thezArk, Tucker Blues
Band plays at Mr, Flood's,
Smokehouse will be smokin' at
Second Chance , M J Boogie
Band rocks at the Anchor Inn,
Reese begins a five-day engage-
ment at Detroit's Music Hall,
The Ann Arbor Classical Guitar
Society presents Maneel Lope--
Rasmainconcert-Sunday at-331.

Thompson in the upper chapel
at 7, $4 admission. The Ars
Musica Baroque Ensemble pre-
sents its final concert Saturday
in St. Clare's Episcopal - Beth
Emeth Temple, 2309 Packard, at
8:30, $4 admission.
ARTSCOPE: Saturday a n d
Sunday, the U-M Aartists and
Craftsmen Guild exhibits origi-
nal work at the Farmington
Country Art Fair, at the com-
munity center on Farmington
Rd., north of 10 Mile Rd.
MISCELLANY: Midnight mo-
vie, A History of the Beatles, at
the Fox Village in Ann Arbor.
The Henry Ford Museum fea-
tures an exhibit of Linbergh
memorabalia in Dearborn.
Peppard and Mary Tyler Moore
lead the bohemian life beautiful
in What's So Bad About Feeling
Good? (Sat., Ch. 9, 9 p.m.); An-
tonioni's L'Avventura (Sat., Ch.
56, 10 p.m.).

Art courses still open

Why not enroll in one of the
seventeen summer arts and
crafts courses offered by The
Collaborative, who have extend-
ed their registration deadline to
Monday, May 23?
Tuition runs $18 for each
course, and varying additional
lab fees that cover the coast of
some materials are required in
a few courses including Batik
and Bobbin Lace Making. Tui-
tion andfees are payable at the
time of registration.

AMONG THE classes offered
are: Calligraphy (lettering) and
bookmaking, C h i n e s e Brush
Painting, Quilting and Contem-
porary Quilting, Jewelry, Draw-
ing, Watercolor (available in in-
troductory and advanced sec-
tions), S c u l pt u r e, Weaving,
Leaded Glass and Photography
(both available in introductory
and advanced sections) and a
lecture-discussidh seminar that
focuses on "The Figure In Mod-
ern Art."
The Collaborative also spon-
sors monitored studio use in the
last half of the summer, July 5

through August 28. Spaces are
available in photographic dark-
rooms and open studios for ba-
tik, jewelry and leaded glass n
Tuesdays and Thursdays from
3-10 p.m. and on Sundays, 3-8
p.m. The fee for summer studio
usage is $18, registration dead-
line is June 30.
To register for classes or
studios, stop by the Guild office
on the second floor of the Mich-
igan Union or call 763-4430.
The volume of research at
the University during 1976-77
reached $75 million.

Nesmith LP exhibits mass appeal

DESPITE THE release of eight fine
albums over the last eight years, ex-
Monkee Michael Nesmith has achieved
little commercial success on his own, al-
though he has developed a cult following
of sorts. With his ninth album, entitled
From A Radio Engine To The Photon
Wing (Pacific Arts ILPA-9486), Nesmith
finally a chance to step from the sha-
dows and claim the recognition he de-
Nesmith's songs are most marked by
their originality; his soft country sound
is slightly similar to that of the Eagles,
although the comparison there is weak,
Whereas the Eagles have extremely lis-
tenable music and throw-away lyrics,
Nesmith creates more complex melodies,
and his lyrics have a definite philosophi-
cal bent. Indeed, his last album, The
Prison,almost -sank under the-weight- of

the lyrics, but From A Radio Engine has
no such problem.
Nesmith's sole hits have been "Differ-
ent Drum,' performed by Linda Ron-
stadt several years back, and "JoAnne,"
a single from his own LP, Magnetic
South. This new album has a number of,
fine tunes, all but one composed by
The side one opener, "Rio," is possibly
one of Nesmith's finest songs. The lyrics
tell of a fanciful journey to Rio de Ja-
niero, expressing every man's desire to
simply take off on a whim. The music is
smooth-rolling and beautifully compli-
ments the words, and Nesmith is accom-
panied by a nicely-arranged trio of fe-
male backing vocalists.
"RIO" NEATLY blends into the next
tune, "Casablanca Moonlight," which
takes the listener on a motor yacht cruise
as-the flight to Rio passes by overb~ead.

Nesmith's imagery is subtly strong here,
as the richness of the scene makes the
tune come alive. His almost melcancholy
vocals provide a contrast with the lush
description, and a violin performance by
Lisa Silver adds yet another intriguing
element to the song.
The music throughout the album is
well-performed, led by Nesmith's accom-
plished guitar work and Weldon Myrick's
contribution- on steel guitar and dobro.
As on the previous album, the music is
particularly well-arranged; although the
players are virtual unknowns, each adds
positively to the quality of the music.
From A Radio Engine To The Photon,
Wing is a delightful album which show-
cases Nesmith's songwriting talents to
a remarkable extent. Although his follow-
ing might be small, those who have en-
joyed Nesmith's music in the past are
certain to be content with his latest offer- -

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