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May 21, 1976 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-05-21

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Arts & Entertainment eTHEMCGn da LMay 1,1976
'MM An orgy of Pan-lana

MM's Peter Pan
Dinner theatre at its best is delicious, and at its worst is good for either an
after-dinner nap or indigestion. Mardy Medder's production of Peter Pan, at the
University Club this weekend, gives nobody a chance to sleep, yet gives enough
time for the stomach to settle. The food leaves no possibility for heartburn.
Energized and driven by Captain Hook's Pirates and Peter's Lost Boys, the
show is exciting, colorful and tlots of fun. It had its weak and slow moment, but
these were quickly forgotten by an audience who "believed."
Set sparsely in-the-rotnd, this production moves smoothly from scene to scene,
enrapturing the kids in the crowd while entertaining the parents.
The production itself was filled with movement, not all of which made sense.
Often, the company failed to take advantage of the stage in the center of things,
close to the audience. Occasionally, though, this possibility was realized in genuine
contact and communiiration with the happy spectators.
The mood was spirited, for the most part, and some of the entrances and exits
through the crOwil were strong and surprising. Unfortunately, Peter Pan and the kids
did not actually fly through the Ander-
son Room of the Union, but their usage
of small, strategi-ally placed trampolines
gave enough of an impression to satisfy.
As fir as the actin went, some of the
characters left a bit to be desired Prime
among them was Peter himself, in the [ 9
gliS'e of Sa111y Iublit. Tlopped in an
alarning latinsmn blond wig, she ware
the expresions of a comedienne with
bad timng.
Many of I cir's maninerisnm and mu
gings were notsense and cuntra to the
lovable and free Ereryboy of Never-
never Land. It is rare that Slightly Soiled
of the Iost Bofy gang tops Peter Pan in
populnrit ', but Iirel Janiszewski did
just that
The oy- were spontaneous and gen-
erally fun, with Ibhby Stitber and Bruce
Judge coming off spec-tcuarly as the
runaway-proise ruffians just down the
street. Thir wit and energy were much
The group that pulled the production
through was the Pirate mob. Too numer-
ons to mention, they have to be experi-
enced to be appreciated. Together they
are the Kekstone Kos of the sea, and I
found myself waiting for their every
inurderous apperaice.
Chief aoing lbthem, of course, was Paul
Silvertsen as ('aptai Hook. Coming on
like a storm-tossed Doatiild Sutherland,
this cultured anti-Villain struck glee into
the hearts of all.
Father's wife, Roberta Owen, came
off as the pereculy Victorian mother who
would have raised the properly restrain-
ed Darling children. Most fetching of
the flying kids was Michael (Nick Cha-
pekis, Jr.) as the confused and some-
what awe-struck youngster
Tiger Lilys Indians were all there, and
they whooped around, but generallyx
served as foils for the hilarious pirates
and the smart-alecky Lost Boys. Al- Peter Pan (Mary Martin) and Captain
See PETER, Page 7 of Martin's most famous plays, the rol

Inside Mary Martin
My Heart Belongs. By Mary Martin, William Morrow and Co. N. Y., 1976,
320 pp. $8.95.
Mary Martin, grande dame of the theatre, has chosen to regale us with the
stories of her life. Not just the story, mind you, for she has been many actresses
in her time. One wonders somehow why they all look so similar. Martin, you may
remember, was not just Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, not merely Maria von
Trapp in the intensely forgettable Sound of Music, bue she was also the child
who never grew up, Peter Pan.
She writes like a child who never grew up. Consider this diadem of the literary
art from her very first chapter (one can almost picture her saying, "Golly! My
very first chapter ever!"):
"I think . . . Never Land is the way I would like real life to be: timeless,
free mischevous, filled with gaiety, tenderness and magic."
Had enough yet?
That's how the whole book goes. To say that My Heart Belongs is one of the
most vapid showbiz bios ever put to pa-
per is somewhere near stating that the
distance from here to Mars is "quite a
little trot." I don't believe this book was
ghost-written, and that's a shame. A
good ghostwriter would have said,
"Mary, don't you think your readers are
going to get just a teensy bit ill of your
frogbrained simplicities?" Mary would
then respond, "Golly, maybe you're
right" - and then the book would have
been inproved.
Because she does come off at least af-
fable. Well, not completely. After all,
she thought Ethel Merman was a swell
= - gal and she does recount, ruefully, how
Y V -she almost killed someone with a jar of
Iond's Cold Cream. ("Wasn't I a silly?"
she must have been chuckling as she
put those immortal words to parch-
Still, she is full of love for her hus-
band, who must have been a man of
endless patience; she is loyal to a fault
-to the point of inserting the name of
one of her childhood friends ito every
show she ever did (with the exception of
one or two) - the friend's name was
Bessie Mae Sue Ella Yaeger. Isn't that
adorable? Don't you just want to cry?
Books with lots of backstage gossip
usually delight me. This one left me
wondering "Why?" and "flow did we
deserve this?" There is a minimum of
backstage gossip in this book, and a
maximum of cloying stupidity. Consider
the caption of one set of pictures in the
tome - she shows us a variety of Holly-
wood stills taken of her - "me as Jean
Arthur, me as Claudette Colbert" etc.
and then, a picture or her without
makeup - "but mostly I just looked
sick." Now isn't that modest? Isn't she
a model for future generations?
Mary Martin and her husband used
took (Cyril Ritchard) stand off, in one to buy presents for all the stage crews
that made her known the world over. See MARTIN, Page 7

ie 1

'Breaks': Riding high and violent

Brando and Nicholson, two contemporary screen
heavyweights grapple valiantly with a terse, languorous-
ly violent Western, Missouri Breaks, newly opened at
the Briarwood Movies. It is hard to determine the
ultimate victor in Arthur Penn's latest venture, for
both the performances and the intensely psychotic
story are joined together so deftly.
Usually the star tends to dominate the production,.
and the combination of Brando, the legend, and Nichol-
son, the near legend, threatened to be an explosive
concurrence of superstar chemistry. Fortunately, the
combination never really gels, but only because of plot
mechanics. The two have few scenes together, wiich
strengthens the picture immeasurably; each being left

to his own characterization, instead of the dalliance
between two screen personalities. As a result, the
acting is remarkably strong: Nicholson honing off the
punky edge of his previous roles, and Brando un-
deniably subtle and purely strange in his portrayal of
the eccentric manhunter, Robert E. Lee Clayton.
The story is terse; at times excruciatingly slow.
Basically it is the romance of a horse thief, Tom Logan
(Nicholson) and the daughter of a wealthy hanging-
judge, Jane Braxton, played by an interesting and
attractive newcomer, Kathleen Lloyd. Logan is seeking
revenge for the hanging of one of his mob, and also
planning a horse heist from the Canadian Mounties,
Shortly after murdering Judge -Braxton's right-hand-
man, Logan and his gang take residence at the ranch
adjacent to Judge Braxton and his daughter. Mean-

while, Braxton has engaged the services of Mr. Clayton
(Brando) to avenge the murder.
The film opens slowly, flooding the screen with
expnsive and colorful cinematography, until Penn
explodes with the sudden and unexpected jerking of a
contorted body at the end of the rope. The action then
degenerates into a bloodlusty adventure with a good
deal of suspense and some wrenchingly bizzare action,
Violence, elegant and brilliantly gory, is a trademark
of Arthur Penn, as can be easily seen in Bonnie and
Clyde, and now his latest. But the violence is never
cheap or exploitative, it is real, human violence with
extraordinary emotional interest and impact. There
are no trappings of the trendy violent films so common
today, rather the violence, like the entire film is
carefully and brilliantly wrought.

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