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April 04, 1981 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-04-04

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The Michigan Daily

Saturday, April 4, 1981

Page 5


' re

If e'er a musical needed a sense of cast
togetherness (or "ensemble," as they call it in the
trade), Grease does. A virtually plotless piece of
uff, this grabbag of Fifties music, dance, and
yle 'would not have a leg to stand on without a
tight ensemble bolstered by plenty of spirit. The
Musket production, playing at Power Center
through Sunday does project a shiny veneer of en-
thusiasm that gets it through its weak spots - of
which there are quite a few - more or less un-
scratched. Slick choreography, exceptionally fine
singing, and an amusing clutter of Pink Ladies
(the girl gang members) all contribute to what
turns out to be by far the best of the last four
Musket shows, lapses notwithstanding.
The so-called plot focuses on Danny and Sandy,
s the tens of millions of unfortunates who subjec-
ted.themselves to the movie version must know.
Essentially, the story boils down to: Boy gets girl,
loses, girl, gets girl, loses girl, gets girl. You can
imagine that there's got to be something going on
besides storytelling if the thing is to fill two hours
Without losing its audience.

THERE IS. Doug Foreman, who has proven his
sense of humor far better-suited to directing
(which he does here) than to acting (which he has
done elsewhere), knows that the material he's
working with it utterly ridiculous. With a few ex-
ceptions, he keeps his cast busy laughing at the
silliness of it all, rather than to sell it as "genuine"
- the way the cast of last spring's Godspell tried
to do, to name just one embarrassing example.
Most of the big production numbers seem to be
spoofing themselves, the singers and dancers
carrying on to such an extreme degree that the
numbers become a shared joke between audience
and players.
However, the satire breaks down from time to
time, most nastily in the opening scene of the
second act. For what seems like half an hour,
bodies wander aimlessly about the stage in
something resembling dance, and occasionally
open their mouths to bellow something resembling
song. Only moments before rigor mortis is about
to set in, a droll treatment of "Beauty School
Dropout" miraculously revives the victim.
That kind of unevenness does mar the show in a
few other places, but thankfully does not disrupt

ase' preti
the festivities anywhere else nearly as badly.
THE MUSKET ritual known as the battle of the
band, which entails a struggle for audibility bet-
ween the orchestra and the actors, is less of a
problem in "Grease" than usual. That may be
because the vocal abilities of virtually everyone
who matters are so surprisingly well developed.
Douglas Sills, a Musket veteran, plays Danny
with a pleasingly oafishness in the second act that
is mystifyingly missed from the first. In his songs,
though, Sills has no problem; he is all cocky,
swaggering self-confidence - qualities his gruff
and lusty singing voice nicely match.
Toni Wilen, Ann Arbor's (sexier) answer to
Olivia Newton-John, is charming as Sandy, the
"good" girl who wants rather badly to be bad. She
is quite convincing in both her virginal incarnation
and in her vampish persona of the final scene.
Furthermore, she sings almost well anough to
mask the fact that she cannot dance a whit.
The backbone of the show, though, is provided
by the marvelous antics of the Pink Ladies, who
execute Karen Ganiard's choreography in disar-
ming unity. The trickiest harmonies of the score
are theirs as well, and the girls belt them out with


alie aUuilg
Arts Staff

impeccable tunefulness.
THERE IS no outstanding thespianship among
the Ladies, but Sidney Mesh is a dancer of
professional stature who deserves an opportunity
to prove it.
Among Danny's boys, Craig Brennan as the
ganglingly hyperkinetic Doody is the most colorful
cartoon character of all. He adds some needed
goofiness to an otherwise dreary "Greased Light-
ning," among other crowdpleasers.
Grease is a far cry from first-class entertain-
ment; there are those energy-less pauses (among
them, endless scene changes), and a couple of ut-
terly sappy characterizations - Barb Fritz's
(Patty) and Tony Bordo's (Teen Angel) among
But Musket's production does do most of what it
must do - shake, rattle, roll, enthuse, and most of
all, convey a burning fascination with the fun-
ctions of the human genitalia. All things con-
sidered, I'd recommend it hands down over the
Robert Stigwood monstrosity that goes by the
same name.

_ __ _

Journey's '
Journey-'Captured' (Columbia)-
Journey has long been known as one of
the best live bands around and Cap-
tured generally backs up that
reputation. While Journey has never
given us more than well-done (if
meaningless) music, they really seem
to put it all together in concert. One
reason for this may be experience, sin-
ce Journey seems to tour more than
anyone else.
The thing that stands out most about
Captured is Journey's enthusiasm;
they never sound as if they are just
going through the motions. A good
example is the song "Where Were
You." Even though it is a lackluster
song on the Departure album, "Where
Were You" becomes much more ap-
pealing on Captures simply because the
energy level makes up for the song's
SINCE CAPTURED was done live,
the listener is more able to hear the in-
dividual group members. At the end of
"La Do Da," Steve Smith is featured in
a long drum solo that displays his talen-

ts well. The other members also prove
themselves to be capable technically.
Hence, one must remember that even
though Journey's music is superficial,
the group members are competent in-
strumentalists-something that
separates them from other bands of the
same genre. The only exception is lead
vocalist Steve Perry, who seems to get
more irritating with each album.
Two new tunes are introduced in Cap-
tured, "Dixie Highway" and "The Par-
ty's Over." The latter is the only track
on the album that was not done live. Un-
fortunately neither one compares
favorably to Journey's best work. Both
are distressingly boring and therefore
not worthy of further comment.
The ideal thing to do with Journey
would be to see them in concert and not
buy any of their albums. However for
those who enjoy hearing Journey's
sound on record, Captured is not a bad
buy. The double album features all of
the group's hits and then some. Now if
Journey could only spend as much time
developing their music as they do

touring-then we might really have
-Dave Ritter
the ann arbor
(bilm cooperative



7:00& 10:45-MLB 3
9:15-MLB 3
2 single feature
$3 double feature

Davis' 'Directions'

Miles Davis-'Directions' (Colum-
bia)-A rich slice of the sixties, Miles
avis' latest reissue, Directions, is far
ore successful than the earlier an-
thology, Circle in the Round. Opening
with a 1960 Gil Evans collaboration and
closing with rocking Miles from 1970,
these cuts aren't leftovers and out-
takes so much as missing links..
Many tunes show Davis' personnel
and style in the transition. For instan-
ce, Jack DeJohnette's first recordings
with Davis are in a strong rocking style,
and predate the revolutionary LPs In a
Silent Way and Britches' Brew, which
troduced jazz-rock. "Water on the
ond," dating from 1967, includes
guitarist Joe Beck-Davis, but still needs
someone like John McLaughlin, as the
guitar plays a less prominent role than
it was to enjoy later.
THE LAST TWO sides document
Davis' multi-keyboard bands in set-
tings that are alternately mysterious
and driving. Joe QZawinul, Herbie
Hancock, Chick Corea, and Keith
rrett (who had not yet developed his
coustical bias) are all featured.
HIGHLIGHTS include Gil Evans'
moody orchestration of "Song for Our
Country," two exciting takes of Joe
Zawinul's "Directions," (later to
become Weather Report's set-closing
signature), a lot of nice tenor sax by
Wayne Shorter, and Davis' masterful
arrangement of Thelonious Monk's
"Round Midnight."
One little mystery-Davis likes to
name compositions after his friends,
nd there's one included here entitled
Willie Nelson." Outside of a couple of
errors in the credits, the notes and

production are first-rate, but there's no
account of Davis hanging out in
Luckenbach. It doesn't sound like a
country tune either, but who knows?
Overall, a fine addition to any
Milesophile's collection. The mood
swings from cool to exotic to rocking,
and this set could serve as a good in-
troduction to the adventurrous decade
of the Sixties as well as many jazz
greats of the Seventies and beyond.
-Jerry Brabenec
Test Preparation
How do you prepare
for these important
Get the facts
no cost or obligation
/ 32466 Olde Franklin
SX on Farmington Hills,
Educatt0i MI 48011
(313) 851-2969
er (callcollect)
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