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July 28, 1978 - Image 6

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1978-07-28

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Page 6-Friday, July 28, 1978-The Michigan Doily
KANSAS AT PINE KNOB:
Technolo trumps the thunder

By TIMOTHY YAGLE
With the unexpected accompaniment
of an erratic thunder and lightening
show, Kansas, the band of six near-
anonymous musicians who eagerly
pioneered rock's current hyper-
technological mania, had their fans at
Pine Knob standing and applauding af-
ter virtually every tune. Following
relative newcomer Marc Jordan, the
area was deluged by torrents of rain
and gusts of wind from an ominous
grey sky. This was seemingly oft little
consequence to Kansas' fans, however,
as nearly everyone, including those on
the soaked lawn, stuck the storm out
through the worst.
Kansas gave everyone their money's
worth, and were plainly not up to any
inventive hijinks. They greeted the
crowd by unveiling their patented logo
on a backstage curtain, and launching
authoritatively into an assortment of
tunes from early albums. The hits from
Point of No Return came early on, after
which the group returned to some older
material, including "Mysteries of
Mayhem."
KANSAS' dependency on keyboards
was obvious merely from their
elaborate stage set-up. The musicians
formed a semi-circle, framing the
keyboards of lead vocalist Steve Walsh

Doily Photo by ANDY FREEBERG
Steve Walsh, keyboardist and lead singer of Kansas, throws himself into his work during the band's Wednesday night ap-
pearance at Pine Knob.
'uu ~Cutuansoy nnmo n

and guitarist/keyboardist Kerry
Livgren. Facing each other ominously,
these two looked as if they were on the
verge of a massive pianistic duel.
Walsh was in constant motion, dan-
cing behind his keyboard, occasionally
darting out and cavorting before the
audience. By contrast, Livgren was

immobility personified. He barely
budged even during his guitar solos,
two of which came during "Carry On
Wayward Son" and "Portrait (He
Knew)."
The dynamic synthesizer that
dominated the evening's music was
hushed briefly while Steinhardt talked

about the band's history, then made the
announcement - which, of course,
drove everyone wild - that the four
Pine Knob concerts were being recor-
ded for a live LP.
The concert closed on the sweet and
soothing "Dust In the Wind" and "Por-
trait (He Knew)," followed by two long
encores.

'Sidney Brustein' shows its age

By PETER MANIS
When the Michigan Repertory Company elected to include Lorraine Han-
sberry's The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window in their 1978 schedule, they
chose to tackle an unwieldy behemoth of a play. Unfortunately, the challenge
proves to be too much for them, although the production does have its
redeeming moments.
The major problem is the play itself. It is set in Greenwich Village in 1964 and
concerns the struggle between idealism and commitment on the one hand, and
detached cynicism on the other. While dealing with this issue, Hansberry has
ThenSignIn Sidney
Brunstein's Window
By Lorraine Hansberry
Michigan Repertory '78
Power Center
Sidney Brustein ...................... Don Hart
Alton Scales,.................... Ron Parsons
Iris Parodus Brustein ........ Becky B. Prophet
Waty O'Hara ..............Daniel Jay Hurtado
Max ............... LorensDate Sass
MavisParodusBryson. . c...Carol Ann Hart
David Ragin.................John v. McCarthy
Gloria Parodus........... Lynn Ellen Musgrave
Rhonnie Washington, director; Anthony C.
Eldis, set designer; Jill Bowers, costumes;
Edward R. Thomas, lighting
incorporated a wide spectrum of topics, among them racism, homosexuality,
prostitution, and hypocrisy.
THE SCRIPT, however, contains several major flaws. First, it is too long;
one would like to see the play two or three rewrites later. Second, much of the
play's language and moral tone is markedly anachronistic. It was originally
produced in 1964, in the midst of the activism of the 1960s, and the play suffers
from an excess of smug intellectual idealism that is somewhat embarrassing
when viewed from these times of relative moral resignation.
Third, and most disconcerting, is the failure of the title role to settle upon a
single mode of speaking. The setting and situation are completely naturalistic,
yet Sidney's lines constantly shift from naturalistic dialogue to overblown,
semi-poetic oratory. Since Sidney leaves the stage for only a brief bit in Act
Three and carries the lion's share of the dialogue, this continual shifting
dominates the mood of the play, making it impossible to establish any con-
tinuous atmosphere.

ALL THIS IS not to say that the play is without its good points. Far from it
- lHansberry makes a number of astute observations about people's at-
titudes toward the topic under discussion at any giver moment. Her theme of
involvement versus cynicism is just as vital as it was in 1964. What has hap-
pened is that the audience now views this conflict from the standpoint of the
"disillusioned .70s," thus rendering the play's moral fervor simply blind
naivete. In addition, Hanberry's insights are further obscured by Sidney's
confusing language.
Given this monstrosity, Director Rhonnie Washington has failed to take the
bull by the horns and instill some order into Sidney's ramblings. Throughout the
first scene, Washington has opted for the character's oratorical side. The result
is that every line, no matter how short, is presented as a speech, complete with
overly-dramatic arm-waving, thus destrdying any semblance of continuity. The
second scene is staged in a more relaxed, natural manner, which was far more
effective; unfortunately, the pacing slowed down considerably, a fault that con-
tinued throughout most of the evening.
AS SIDNEY Brustein, Don Hart is faced with the almost impossible task of
reconciling Sidney's dichotomized manner of speech. As one might expect, he
sometimes succeeds in merging the two halves into a believable character;
more often, however, he fails. Becky Prophet, as Sidney's wife, Iris, fails en-
tirely in trying to create a convincing character. Her gestures remind one of
nothing so much as those used by most high school actresses; rather than con-
veying meaning, they seem to be symbolizing various emotions.
Among the supporting roles, we are provided with two excellent perfor-
mances by Ron Parsons as Sidney's black friend Alton Scales and Carol Hart as
Iris' sister Mavis. Both are entirely convincing and compelling, and provide us
with two sterling scenes in succession toward the end of Act Two.
THE OTHER roles vary considerably. Lynn Musgrave gives a quite com-
petent performance as Iris' younger sister Gloria, but at times seems
somewhat forced. John McCarthy is unconvincing as the gay playwright, and
for some unfathomable reason appeared to be smiling, even through the tensest
of moments. Daniel Hurtado was badly miscast as Wally O'Hara; far from
looking likea crusading reform politician, he resembled the epitome of a mem-
ber of some rubber-stamp board. In fact, one wanted to see him and Loren Bass
trade roles, although -the latter occasionally suffered from mush-mouth.
Technically, too, the show varied widely. Anthony Eldis' set was quite im-
pressive and appropriately textured. The costumes by Jill Bowers and lighting
by Edward Thomas were both lackluster, however, particularly the heavy-
handed lighting change during the dance scene in the first scene of Act Three.
Also, there were numerous execution difficulties between the stage manager
and crew.

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