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April 14, 1981 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-04-14

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Tuesday, April 14, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

The truth about patent leather

Daily Photo by DAVID HARRIS
PAT METHENY (above) set his fans yelping in ecstasy Sunday night during
his Hill Auditorium concert. The guitarist showed a devotion for over-
orchestrating his pieces, but still showed himself to be one of the more in-
teresting instrumentalists in the music scene today-
Crwd l f Mpthe
op lp pnew music of Metheny

There's something special about cat-
ching a show before it hits New York; I
spend days happily crowing to myself,
hah hah, I beat you to this one, Walter
Kerr. And for theatre aficionados, it's
worth the trip to suburban Detroit's
Birmingham Theatre to see Do Black
Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect
Up? at $12-$14 a head. No doubt about it,
this musical is going to make it big.
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really
Reflect Up? parodies parochial schools
like Grease spoofs the 50s. Neither of
these musicals is a devoutly factual
representation of their sources, but it
doesn't matter because they're fun.
With the rest of the world looking
gloomy, it's great to escape for a few
hours, guilt-free.
THIS SHOW certainly won't offend
any former parochial school students;
in fact, they'll probably guffaw the
most. The script by John Powers, a
humorist who has published several
best-selling books about growing up
Catholic, is chock-full of hilarious
horror stories Powers learned from
nuns and priests during his grammar
school days.
(Tough-cookie nun Sister Lee tells the
girls during the "big sex lecture":
"You have to realize that boys have
only two basic drives: sex and hunger.
As soon as they take care of one they

take care of the other. And that's why
so many rapes occur near restauran-
And then there are the jokes about
"publics," the term used to describe
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
Birmingham Theatre, Birmingham, MI
Now playing Tuesday-Sunday thru June 7
Sook bh John I'owers. Music and Lirics by
Jaames Quinn and Alaric Juans
Eddie Ryan..............................Scott Ellis
Becky Bakowski.....................Tracy Dodrill
Sister Lee Marina MacNeal
Father O'Reilly .... .. Wally Engelhardt
Direc ted !)Mike Nn aain
non-parochial school students, and the
drive to raise money to buy pagan
babies - what would growing up be
without these pastimes?
THIS SORT OF humor is the meat of
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really

Reflect Up?, although it has a focal
point in the character of Eddie Ryan.
The play traces Eddie and his kiddie
cronies from the second grade to the
senior prom. Eddie is the chronic louse;
a straight-D student and a follower with
only one passion in his life - the smart
and virtuous (much to Eddie's chagrin)
Becky, who daydreams of being a nun.
But such is the way of Catholic girls, or
as Eddie's buddy, Mike, puts it:
"They're like whiffleballs. They just
don't go very far."
Eddie is surrounded by a crazy group
of personalities: Felix the Filth Fiend
Lindor, who got thrown out of the Cub
Scouts for tying an obscene knot;
Virginia Lear, the tomboy who later
decides that it's "much nicer" to be a
girl; the virtuous Mary Kenny, and fat-
ty Louie Schlang. All the characters
were played by the most exuberant
bunch of Chicago actors and actresses
ever imported. They created an in-
credible ensemble spirit - a feeling
that comes only when a cast has worked
together for a long time. And these kids
are good, from Chloe Webb as Virginia
with her plastic face, to Timmy Fauvell
as tub-o-lard Louis, who's as hot as
Elvis when he rocks out in "Doo-Waa,
This sort of show shouhd be goopy or
vapid, but it isn't with these kids as the
stars. Their development from age 8 to

18 is surprisingly believable - all they
needed was acne.
THE SCORE BY James Quinn and
Alaric Jans is pretty forgettable stuff,
although it does include a good mix of
songs from the pop-influenced "It's the
Nuns" to the plaintive but humorous,
"How Far is Too Far," the 8th grade
girls' query about sex, and Becky's
ballad "God Loves (Little Fat Girls
Too)." Ronna Kaye's choreography is
deliberately a little klutzy to capture
the kid-like ambiance.
The only slightly faltering aspect of
the production was the casting of Scott
Ellis as Eddie. Ellis looks like such a
nice boy. No one could ever believe that
a kid with a face like that could ever
flunk math. Eddie's supposed to be
such a goof-off but Ellis doesn't convey
enough primal schmuckiness in him.
Ellen Crawford is an enchantingly
wizened Sister Lee, the nun who stands
scarcely fifty inches high, but is wise to
the world. And Wally Engelhardt is
Father O'Reilly, the corpulent but kind
priest who tells stories about the
horrors of masturbation in an impec-
cable Irish brogue.
Let Reagan strip the National En-
dowment for the Arts of its last
greasepencil. As long as people are in
need of escape, shows like Do Black
Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect
Up? will always be welcome.

In their debut Ann Arbor performan-
ce,- the new and improved Pat Metheny
Group provided a surprisingly gutsy,
unpredictable set that delighted their
large Hill Auditorium audience.
27-year-old Metheny has been gar-
nering critical acclaim for the past five
years now for his skills as a guitarist,
and even more for his ground-breaking
achievements as a composer.
Collaborating primarily with keyboar-
*dist, Lyle Mays, Metheny has
developed an exclusively instrumental
reportoire, incorporating both
traditional and modern jazz influences
as well as those of rock, pop, and blues.
THIS UNUSUAL style has earned
him an admirable, though precarious
place in American music. Metheny has
been criticized for being too gimmicky
and mainstream for the purists, and too
esoteric for the mass market. It's a
strange place to be, but Pat doesn't
seem to mind.
Metheny's studio albums reflect his
multifarious styles and techniques, and
feature the group in all its im-
provisational glory. Yet taken as a
Whole,, these more polished recordings
lack the bite, and the vitality that make
for an exciting stage show.
Rolling Stone magazine's David
Palmer described Metheny's sound as
comparable to "wind blowing through
the trees," which is fine when the
material is background, but insufficient
orstage where it's more fun to watch
t 4e wind knock over the trees.
Me,theny's meandering music is com-
parable in tone to the Dave Brubeck
Quartet - light, inoffensive, essen-
tially static - traits which could entail
a less than stimulating live appearan-
show found the group exuberant. They
performed the older standards as well
as untitled new pieces with appealing
spontaneity. Although the set began
with an unmemorable version of
Meheny's stand-by, "Phase Dance,"
rmuch of the remaining concert featured
dramatic solos and duets, daring ex-
perimentation, and lively variations of
hisstudio works.
Drummer Dan Gottlieb, an old
classmate of Metheny's from the
;university of Miami, seemed genuinely
r challenged by Nana Vasconcelos, a
highly respected Brazilian per-
oyssionist who has recently joined the
band; the two played off of each other
with captivating energy. Steve Rodby

also a newcomer, couldn't seem to
dominate his acoustic bass enough, and
stole many pieces with his dazzling
solos. Mays and Metheny acted to
weave these instruments together,
providing the body of the compositions
at their beginnings, fading out, and
coming back for the finales.
The primary shortcoming of the en-
semble, was over-orchestration.
Metheny drew enthusiastic applause by
announcing that he plans to incorporate
more and more synthesizer into his
works - he used it extensively Sunday
night - but it seemed to overwhelm
and water down many of his otherwise
vibrant works. Metheny's guitar itself,
the focal point of the ensemble, often
served only to depress the rhythms.
THE CONCERT's climax seemed to
occur when neither Mays nor Methenv
were involved, such as a precious few
minutes of a Gottlieb drum and
vasconcelos, bongo duet with Rodby
furiously plucking his acoustic bass.
The emotion at this moment was at a
high point, but the addition of Mays'
synthesizer, and then Metheny's elec-
tric guitar, merely doused the intensity.
Frankly, Mays would be better off
refining his piano playing (his
specialty) and tossing his synthesizer
overboard. It's inclusion, and at times
exploitation, only added needless form
to a band respected for its substance.
The audience at Sunday night's show
which was presented by Eclipse Jazz,
responded with a fury of excitement to
every piece, and when Metheny
finished "San Lorenzo," the band's
standard showstopper, the pleased fans
leaped to their feet and brought the
quintet back for an encore.
We can expect to hear - and see - a
lot more from Pat Metheny in the
coming years, like it or not. With six
albums to his credit in as many years,
all of which have created considerable
reaction from his peers and observers,
Metheny has established himself as one
of the most prolific innovators in the
game. He seems determined to avoid
the ruts that burden other fusion ar-
tists, displaying a healthy musical
curoosity that has yet to grow stale or
mechanical. And with inspired back-up
musicians such as Vasconcelos and
Rodby along for the ride, the Pat
Metheny group appears to have a
bright future. If they can capture the
energy displayed last night on a new
live recording, they'd probably have
their most successful album to date.

Men's Glee Club creates joyful explosion

For once, the publicity said it all..
Dubbed "An Explosion of Sound," the
performances by four college glee clubs
at Hill Auditorium Saturday night was
a welcome diversion from Ann Arbor's
usual musical fare.
I must confess that I am not exactly a
glee club aficionado. In fact, I was less
than enthused about having to miss my
local favorites at the seedy Star Bar to
hear the stilted sounds of Hill
Auditorium and "real music."
BUT I WAS quite pleasantly sur-
prised. As one might have expected, the
operative word was still

professionalism, but without the ex-
cesses one usually associates with
"serious music." The singers' technical
virtues (impressive though they were)
never became the whole point of the
performance, and given the somewhat
competitive nature of the program
(sort of a battle of the bands for glee
clubs) the singers showed maturity in
resisting the tendency to show off.
The University of Michigan Men's
Glee Club in particular, illustrated the
beauty of technical proficiency balan-
ced with personal expression. From the
moment they began with "Laudes

BLT on white bread

atque carmina" (traditional opening
hymn) their sensitivity to the dynamics
involved was amazing. Director J.
Eugene McKinly brought them from
the whisper of "Michigan Morn" to the
powerful retort of the prisoner's chorus
from Beethoven's opera, Fidelio.
The astounding thing about the per-
formance was the way the ensemble
alternated between "serious" ex-
pression and old-fashioned fun. The
former would have lapsed into boredom
without the latter's freshness and sense
of humor.
AND THE HUMOR aspect was also
aided by a subset of the glee club called
The Friars. The Friars, composed of 8
men, introduced as "the craziest guys
in the world," were refreshingly funny.
They danced, jumped, and rolled
around on the floor in an attack on the
audience's collective funny bone. They
did the hilarious "Draft Dogers Song"
and the 50s chestnut "Who Put the
The group's performance was such a
pleasant surprise that I have but a few
the ann arbor
film cooperative
7:00 & 9:00AUD. A
Spanish with subtitles

middling criticisms. The only real an-
noyance was the unflagging school
spirit near the end of the show. Such
numbers as "The Yellow and the Blue"
or the "Varsity Victors," though loved
by the audience, gave me an acute case
of the Go Blues. Also the award cer-
emonies (for scholarships, etc.) though
short, were sleep inducers.
The flaws were minor enough that the
performance was still a joy. And at the
final section, when the various clubs
performed together, the effect was
breathtaking. The other clubs (Notre
Dame, Wayne State, and Ohio State),
though not as engaging as the Univer-
sity's were all quite good. The bottom
line is that even if you aren't a big glee
club fan, and if you are willing to stret-
ch your ears a bit, you might want to try
the next performance of the Men's Glee

U-M Dept. of Thcauc &DLrtt


Jack Bruce, Bill Lordan, Robin
Trower - 'B.L.T.' (Chrysalis) -
B.L.T.. . . Bruce, Lorden and Trower?
Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato? Boring,
Ludicrous and Trite?.
The latter seems to best describe this
latest release featuring blues guitarist
Robin Trower (formerly of Procol
Harum) and bassist/vocalist Jack
Bruce (formerly of Cream).
FROM THE initial track "Into
Money," B.L.T. is not much more than
a collection of mundane tunes with a
monotonous heavy beat and truly banal
Promoters have made a big deal out
of the merger of Trower, Bruce and
drummer Bill Lordan, but for no valid
reason that I can discern. Actually, the
skills of the three musicians do not
combine very well at all. Bruce's bass
dawdles through the majority of the
tracks and at various points seems near
Trower, a pupil of Hendrix, oc-
casionally accomplished some of the
F 5th A. at liberty 761-9700
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brilliant guitar rock for which he is
noted. But, unfortunately, he doesn't
take it anymore, and most of it dies in
tiring, repetitive riffs.
TO ADD TO it, Trower,'s lead seems
incongrously separated from the bass
and percussion, causing a dissonance
that makes for uncomfortable listening.
Jack Bruce's vocals are as equally
unexciting as the other components of
the album, but as aforementioned, the
lyrics are not much to start with.
It seems that the trio has taken a very
simplistic approach to their music:
simple lyrics, simple instrumentation.
And what they have accomplished is
simply but completely boring.
Tammy Reiss

April 15-19
PTI' Ticket Office -Mich. Leagui (764 0450)

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