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May 18, 1978 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1978-05-18

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The Michigan Daily-Thursday, May 18, 1978-Page 5
Detroit Rep's 'Lost in the Stars'

By JOSHUA PECK
In the center of a somewhat rundown,
lower-middle-class section of Detroit is
a building, replete with proudly blazing
marquee, that constitutes something of
a surprise in this frugal age - the
Detroit Repertory Theater.
At a time when many Americans, and
Detroiters in particular, are without a
Lost in the Stars
by Maxwell Anderson and Kurt Weill
Detroit Repertor , Theatre -

Leader ...........
Linda ........ ..
James Jarvia ....
Edward Jarvis...
Stephan Kumalo.
Absalom Kumalo .
Arthur Jarvis.....
John Kumalo.....
Grace Kumalo....

...........Dee Andrus
....Del Bondie
.... .William Boswell
Michael W. Campbell
...John 'V. Hardy
.WillieHidge
............Mac Lister
.......Jesse Newton
.Heidi Schneider

The company's current offering is
Lost in the Stars, Maxwell Anderson
and Kurt Weill's musical about, of all
topics, South Africa. The show follows
the Reverend Stephen Kumalo, played
strongly by John Hardy, as he tries to
save his son from execution for a mur-
der committed in the course of robbery.
Though the play is set well before the
implementation of officially sanctioned
apartheid, racial tension is the most
prominent characteristic. The theme is
expounded upon in a musical number
wherein the black and white cast mem-
bers chant-sing their anxiety about
each others' power across a darkened
gulf of stage.
ANDERSON'S BOOK does not make
a moral decision simple for his audien-
ce. A scene early on shows us Edward
Jarvis, a white, liberal; flouting the
national taboo by speaking publicly,
and in a friendly fashion, to his black
friend Kumalo. It is Jarvis whom
Kumalo eventually kills in the heat of
the crime. That it is a friend to the
blacks whom the youth has killed
makes the whites' anger all the more
sympathetic.

William Boswell as the dead man's
father does a fair job with an incredible
(that's in-credible) part. In a scene of
reconciliation so far-fetched as to be
unmoving, Jarvis comes to Kumalo to
offer his friendship and remorse in
their mutual loss.
The chorus is used as conscience,
Mi chigan DAILY
dramatic ' filler and for emphasis in
ways that are strongly reminiscent of
Greek drama. Its members are,=.for the
most part, forceful and trained singers.
They handle Weill's dissonant and
multi-rhythmic score with aplomb, but
more important, they fill the credibility
gaps which threaten to mar the
evening's emotional impact.
WHEN A director is given a smallish

Bruce E. Milian, director, set designer;Kelly Smith,
musical director; Dick Smith, /ighting designer;
Marianna Hoad, costume designer
job, one has to look hard to find a semi-
professional troupe that can afford to
turn out even a single quality produc-
tion. And yet DRT evidently is able to
do it several times a year.

stage and a large cast, one would ex-
pect to see efficient use of each square
foot of precious floor space. Yet Bruce
Millan has created an often inap-
propriately-cramped situation by
assigning a third of the stage to the
starkly outlined church of the pastor
Kumalo. If Divine presence had been
an issue here, such a decision might
have been warranted, but it is the
idiocy and intransigence of men, not
gods, that makes the play a tragedy.
What Lost in the Stars leaves us with
is a heightened sensitivity to the sour-
ces and motivations of the foulness that
is prejudice. We are given the oppor-
tunity to be objective about a human
pitfall, as the book sagely sets the story
half a world away. Perhaps, given this
objective look, we can handle our
domestic foibles more wisely.
A few more words about the company
as a whole: it is deliberately and
calculatedly racially integrated. That
may seem commonplace now, but when
the DRT got started 32 years ago, they
were quite an unpopular crew, oc-
casionally finding themselves thrown
out of theaters for their liberal at-
titudes.
For their efforts in these positive
directions, progressive Ann Arborites
might wish to reward DRT with their
attendance and dollars. They will be
richly recompensed.
SPRING
ARTS STAFF
ARTS EDITOR
OwenGleiberman
ARTSSTAFF: Michael Baadke, BillBarbour, Susan
Barry, Karen Bornstein, Patricia Fabrizio, Douglas
Heller, Paula Hunter, Matthew Ktetter, Peter Manis,
Joshua Peck, Stephen Pickover, Christopher Potter,
Jefrey Selhst, Anne Sharp Eric Smith, R. J. Smith,
Kerry Thompson, Tim Yagle
WHERE DO I MAIL MY
RESUMES? sInterntioal' S pg. COP. DIRECTOY
1 listing ore thon 700 lmading U..ondOvereams Cor- I
porotions; complete.n .s ond addre.,stordiect
Send 55- . + t pstgthond
I (DOicoxn4foEanNtyNrdr77
I ntenational Resume Seice
P. .O. Bon64M, TENNENT, N.J. 07763

"'FM':,A
By OWEN GLEIBERMAN
During the showcase piece in the
movie FM, a concert sequence featuring
Linda Ronstadt, I watched and listened
with unfaltering attention as Linda
grasped the mike and launched into
"Tumbling Dice." Her mouth
movements matchedevery inflection
and I saw that, yes, it was true, the ren-
dition was undeniably different from
the studio version. Despite the fact that
I was dumbstruck with disbelief, I was
forced to acknowledge that the film had
not stooped to using lip-synching, Mid-
night Special-style.
If my acute cynicism seems a bit har-
sh, I can only say that similar thoughts
would have been passing through
anyone's mind after enduring the first
forty minutes of this atrocious excuse
for ent rtainment. Having been suf-
ficiently numbed by the first half, I was
unprepared for the possibility that
anything approaching reality, i.e., live
sound, had the slightest chance of in-
truding on the premises.
THE PEOPLE who concocted this
triviality have suffered a terminal case
of era-jetlag, and it is an amusing sight
to behold. They wanted so much to
make a 60's movie, or at least to foster
an attitude that recalled the glorious
decade when anyone attempting to
stifle creativity or the willfulness to
pursue one's own thing was promptly
lumped in a class with the devil him-
self. Alas, FM, just as the rock & roll
music that is its subject, is firmly
rooted in the 70's, and nothing is about
to change any of that. As one who

film to
gained something resembling social
consciousness in roughly 1973, my sym-
pathies for FM's philosophical dilem-
ma are, to put it mildly, limited.
What is delightful is the way in which
the movie absolutely flounders as it
tries to straddle ideals. It overflows
with profound distaste for The
Establishment, and yet what could be
more overtly commercial than the 70's
rock industry or the radio stations that
carry its cloyingly over-produced soun-
ds into our living rooms? If the
prominent 60's "philosophy" of drop-
ping out was based on something less
than a clearly-articulated set of ideals,
at least some of the era's patrons prac-
ticed (or altogether refrained from
such) as they preached.
IN FM, WHEN head disc jockey Jeff
Dugan (Michael Brandon) of Los
Angeles radio station WSKY harangues
with the evil, money-minded business
manager over whether to program an
ad for the army, the outraged"DJ
claims, "I'm not against making
money." Right. Just as long as you
don't want to make too much money,
sir, because then you're a loathsome,
vile, establishment pig! The idea is to
be a part of the system, but not to the
point that it becomes crass.
A storyline involving the raging con-
flict between a station's adorable DJs
and the inhuman businessmen who just
want more commercials is rather old
and predictable, but saying so is a bit
like claiming that Laverne and Shirley
is not the major cultural achievement
of the twentieth century. It's true, but

tune out
why bother?
ASIDE FROM its thematic
quagmire, FM's style doesn't fare
much better. I found it immensely in-
triguing that the movie was a blatant
rip-off of Joan Micklin Silver's Between
the Lines, intriguing because the latter
was such a forgettable piece of pop-
garbage, and it seemed wholly incon-
ceivable that anyone would want to
make a movie remotely resembling it.
The characters are supposed to be a
wild and wacky assortment of idiosyn-
cratic DJs, each with his or her own
cuh-razy schtick on the air. Only two
out of the lot make the grade. Martin
See STATIC-FILLED, Page 6

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