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December 06, 1981 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-12-06

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ARTS

W he Michigan Daily

Sunday, December 6, 1981

Page 7

Best of Broadway not so good

! y Gail Negbaur
1 0 ITS CREDIT, Mornings at Seven
- captures the essence of what it
must have been like to live in a small
mid-western town in 1922. Unfor-
tWnately, except for a few glimpses of
good acting, The Best of Broadway's
production is not a "best" at all.
The playwright Paul Osborn began
writing when he was at the University
in 1925. He has said the characters in
Mornings at Seven are based on people
he. knew in Kalamazoo. But the per-
sonalities are so typical it is not very in
teresting to watch what happens in
their lives.

The play centers on the mundane an-
tics of four elderly sisters, their three
husbands, one sister's son and his
girlfriend. The only major action in the
first act is that the son, Homer, a forty-
year old bachelor, brings his girlfriend
of 2 years home for the first time.
During the rest of the act, and most of
the play, Osborn simply lets the
audience look in on the sisters' gossip
and rivalries.
The play and the acting improve after
the first intermission, basically
because sonething dramatic finally
happens. Two of the husbands leave
their wives for a whole day, to find out
the meaning of the profound question

"Where am I." Then sisten Cora
decides to get a new house for her
husband and herself to get away from
her live-in sister. Everyone gets excited
and at one point literally run around the
stage after each other.
Mornings has its moments, but for
the most part it is just an extremely
long play. The cast is mediocre at its
best. The only two who are able to take
their characters away from being
stereotypes are Paul Collins as Homer
and Kathryn Eames as sister Esther.
Eames portrays Esther as the wise
sister who still listens to all of her
family's chattering earnestly. She goes

as far as defending them to her husband
by saying, "I have a good time with my
sisters, I don't care how ignorant they
are."
The truth is out; here is Osborn's
message to the audience. We are meant
to have a good time and enjoy watching
the craziness of the sisters. With a bet-
ter group of actors it is possible that
this message could come through.
Mornings at Seven will continue with
both a matinee and an evening perfor-
mance on Sunday, at the Power Center.

WHEN THE LADY NEEDS MORE THAN
JUST DECORATION

TV Dinner' is the tubes

By James Clinton
T HE WHOLE Art Theatre's produc-
tion of TV Dinner, currently ap-
pearing at the Canterbury Loft, preten-
ds to examine the effect television has
on our lives. Actually, this three-part
drama by Werner Krieglstein is a
naive portrait of the media.
The first act is the worst of the three,
which is saying a great deal since the
entire play is an unmitigated disaster.
We are implored by the author, in a
preface, to view it in the context of a
painting, a mere excuse for the fact
that there is no dialogue, no dramatic
tension and acting more closely
associated with an elementary school
class in improvisation.
The second act focuses on a man in a
room about to eat dinner alone. On
'Succeed'

second glance, one notices that he's in
the company of his television set. A
lengthy discourse follows, where he
eschews the television for it's inability
to maintain a relationship with the
viewer. The personalization of the elec-
tric box is the belabored metaphor
here. It is taken to imponderable and
embarrassing lengths, in the effort to
show how frequently the TV takes on
the form of a living entity and exceeds
it's position as mere diversion.
The final piece is about a woman who
watches cartoons and munches cereal,
while soldiers come into her living
room and murder a small boy. Needless
to say, she is so engrossed in Bugs Bun-
ny she doesn't even glance up from the
idiot box to observe the violence en-
folding around her. Enough said?
0. K. We watch too much television.
This is hardly a new complaint, and has
successful

been satirized more effectively many
times before. One of the glaring
deficiencies in this play is its in-
congrously heavy-handed approach to
the subject. One presumes this route is
taken to remind us of the imminent
peril of taking the tube too seriously
(which, ironically, is what this play
does). Symbolism is reduced to the
most puerile length, replete with a
cradle on the sparce stage and an inex-
plicable cross mounted at the back.
In all fairness, the entire mess is vir-
tually without a redeeming feature. It
would seem appropriate as one of Dan
Ackroyd's Bad Theatre Productions or
a National Lampoon parody.

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sophomore showcase

All by itself, $49 is a

By Gail Negbaur
FTER TWENTY-FIVE years of
sophomore shows, one has rarely'
seen a UAC musical with good singing,
a well-rehearsed cast, and a male
chorus that can dance well. Under the
direction of Michael Kaufman, How to
Succeed in Business Without Really
Trying is delightful entertainment.
How to Succeed . . . is a satirical
comedy that looks at what goes on
behind the doors of a large corporation.
The show teaches us that anyone with
aimbition can make it to the top of the
American business world.
Pierrepont Finch (Greg Watt) sees
that there is more to life than washing,
windows, so by carefully following his
9%booklet on success, he enters the World
Wide Wicket Company. Although he
Smust start in the mail room, with a little
ingenuity and cunning, Finch soon rises
to the position of vice-president. Along
the way the boss' nephew Frump tries
to stop him, Rosemary the secretary
tries to marry him and the boss'
girlfriend tries to seduce him. Even-
tually Finch makes it through, and
ANN A RBOR

proves that there is still hope for the
ambitious and lucky in the world of high
finance.
Greg Watt's superb voice, Michael
Kaufman's directing, and the
choreography by Kaufman and Ruth
Klotzer combine to make this produc-
tion a success. But without the talent of
Gayle Cohen (Rosemary), Todd Hooley
(Frump), and the supporting cast, the
show would not be nearly as polished
and enjoyable as it is.
The technical demands of the script
prove, however, to be difficult to han-
dle. In the first act alone there are fif-
teen scenes and almost all require some
scenery changes. Although Jon Davis'
three level set works well in many of
the scenes, the actors must often carry
tables, chairs, and other props on stage
This leads to some confusion and long
pauses between scenes.
Todd Hooley makes Budd Frump. the
coniving, wicked nephew of the boss so
perfectly pathetic that one cannot help
feeling sorry for Frump by the end.
Charles Nelson Reilly, who played this
role in the original production in 1961,
could not have done it better.

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