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November 20, 1980 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-11-20

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The Michigan Daily-Thursday, November 20, 1980-Page 7

R. C. company
shines~1 iply



The truth about.Sunday Funnies

Local theatre buffs are spreading
rumors about Residential College (RC)
dfana productions-such as "It's some
of the best theatre in town." The
Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by the
RC/Brecht Co. played to sold -out
audiences for a much-too-short two
weekends this summer while the Extra
lCiunchy Theatre's (mostly RC/Brecht
folks) political comedy, We Can't Pay,
We Won't Pay was lamentably
overlooked. With the RC Players
evening of one acts, Moliere's The
Imaginary Cukold and Chekhov's The
Proposal, the group shows every in-
dication of keeping the RC's growing
dramatic reputation intact. What the
dozen or so mostly freshperson actors
lack in polish, they make up in vitality
and perspiration. And at the end of an
hour they leave an audience panting for
A major reason for the evening's suc-
cess is the company's choice of plays.
Moliere's farce, with its running sight
gags and clever rhyming, is a perfect
vehicle for them. The characters are so
stock and so serious about themselves
that they are outrageously laughable..
They swoon a bit, hold street signs in .
front of their faces to escape detection,
land wildly brandish foils and broad
swords which they drop at the slightest
growl of animosity. The storyline is
sheer puffery-you see Gorgibus wants
his daughter Celie to marry a wealthy
man but Celie wants to wed Lelie who
thinks Celie has left him for Sganarelle
who is really married to Martine, -but
she has the hots for Lelie .. . You get
the picture. It's a seventeenth century
cartoon. The moral's as heavy and in-
strictive as "never believe what you
DIRECTOR HILARY Cohen has staged
the comedy in the style of Moliere's
day. A short dance sequence precedes,
the dialogue-the characters pirouette
across the stage, halting to
acknowledge their future partners in a
manner suggestive of the action to
follow. In the scene change between
The Imaginary Cuckold and The
Proposal the cast shifts a few pieces of
scenery, gives a vest here and a coat
there to the Chekov players, and the
seventeenth century French street is

transformed into a Russian drawing
Anton Chekhov's comic one-act play,
The Proposal, was the weaker of the
two productions, but not by much. The
Moliere play had the advantage of a
large cast and visual humor to keep the
snappy pacing up, while the
Chekhovian drawing-room comedy
relied more on deftness with dialogue.
But it's a howler. Ivan Lomaff asks his
neighbor Stepen Chabukov if he may
ask Stepen's daughter Natalya to
marry him. He's a hypochondrical
nebish. One wonders what Natalya
could possibly see in this twit of a man
whose nildest oddity is a problem with
his left side-when he gets upset it sud-
denly stiffens and whatever is in his
hands goes flying scross the room.
Before he can even propose to Natalya,
they engage in a hilarious catfight over
a piece of property which both of their
families claim to own. This is all too
much for Ivan. Stepen and Natalya
even think he's dead for a while. But of
course everything ends on a joyful note.
Even Ivan admits it. "Hey, I'm hap-
py," he says. And then he grabs his
ankle and exclaims "Ow, my foot's
BUT IF The Proposal occasionally
misses a beat, the presence of Grace
Morand as Natalya makes up for it.
Morand has a face as mobile as silly
"putty. In repose her face wears a sunny
smile. When aroused she summons up a
number of hilariously fearsome looks.
She has a certain depth and poise that
her fellow performers lack. She runs
through a whirlwind of emotions in fif-
teen minutes, twisting a guffaw out of
the audience at every step.
Jenny Shikes' set is a marvelous
piece . of invention. With the
rearrangement of a few simple set
pieces, the "Street of Fools" becomes a
set of couches, chairs and bookcases.
And costumer Beth Balousec has
cleaned out the RC closets to outfit the
cast in sausage curls and lace.
The RC Players are an exuberant if
unpolished group. But if their
adolescence is this proficient just wait
until they have a term of two more of

My editor eyed me acorss the desk
then hit me with it: "Okay, there's this
student comedy troupe in town. Call
themselves the Sunday Funnies. Ren-
ted out the Union ballroom for Thur-
sday and Friday nights at 8; they're
selling tickets to unsuspecting people,
claim they're gonna do a show, humor
sketches and music. I want you to meet
with them. Find out what the scam is.
Now, before they pull any more funny
So, I contacted the two
kingpins-writer-directors, they like to
call themselves-of the Funnies, and
arranged a little tete-a tete at the
Brown Jug. As we munched our salads
and sandwiches, I sized them up. Steve
Kurtz-a stocky, tow-headed character
with a Groucho-esque non-stop patter
style. Tony Lempke-a tall, willowy
engineering student, behind whose
demure gold wire rims lay a wit of tem-
pered steel. I set fire to a Marlboro,
switched on the tape recorder and
broached my first question.
DAILY: So. This is your operation.
How long has it been going on?
TONY: With this cast, just since Sep-
STEVE: The Sunday Funnies've
been around before that.
DAILY: How long? Was it always
your show?
TONY: No. (To Steve) You want to
tell the story of the Sunday Funnies?
STEVE: You want to hear the whole
story? Oh boy, are you in for a treat!
Should I start? Who should we insult
that we don't like?
TONY: Now wait a second, this is
going to the media, so we won't insult
anyone. Not even anyone's intelligence.
Tom Drotai started the group. It was a
year ago, at this time in November,
when he put out an ad for writers. To
make along story short, we started out
with a group of people, and eventually
split. Steve and myself continued to
work with Tom, and the three of us
worked on the show that we eventually
put on in April. It was the same kind of
format at this one-sketches, a little bit
of music-
STEVE: Funny music-
TONY: And so, after that show, the
group that was doing "Nightlife" at
Public Access TV saw the show, and
they said, well, we love you, will you go
to bed with us, and I said yes, but first
you have to get me on your show.
STEVE: That was our first big break.
TONY: So we went on "Nightlife,"
and we were interviewed, we showed a
few of our sketches, and they liked us,
and decided they wanted to have us
write up some material for a Sunday
Funnies TV show, and they'd provide
technicalassistance. Well, "Nightlife"
went defunct, but we went ahead with it
DAILY: That was aired on cable
channel 9 last spring, I recall-they still
play it from time to time.
TONY: Tom went on to other
things-he's into mime and dance-and
he just sort of left it to us.
STEVE: We recruited mostly new ac-
TONY: And one super guy who's in
New York now-Peter Slutsker. He's in
one of the acting schools there.
STEVE: Did you see him in In the
Dark? He was the star of
that-great-and in Godspell and Guys
and Dolls.
TONY: So, after the summer, we
went on hiatus-in other words,
everyone split on me-I started contac-
ting UAC, writing proposals, and using
all my technical writing skills. We had
a meeting in-early September, and we,
as a part of UAC, were born.
STEVE: And the rest is history.
TONY: But the kind of comedy we
do-the show has a real variety. We use
stuff all the way from vaudevillian

snappy one-line type patter all the way
to off-the-wall stuff, to what we call
"human comedy," stuff that people can
relate to. If you go to the show and don't
laugh, you're probably a vegetable,
autistic or something.
STEVE: Not that we have anything
against vegetables-
TONY: And not that we don't like
autistic people.
DAILY: Did you write all the music
for the show yourself?
TONY: Steve did. Although your
songs are good, Steve, I think your
lyrics are still your strongest point.
Wait till you see it-You got to put a lot
of energy into stuff like this, there's no
doubt about it. It doesn't happy by it-
TONY: We are not club comedy. We
stress theatrical comedy, and good
stage technique.
(The waitress arrives; Tony requests
more catsup.)
STEVE: Well, I think Samuel
Beckett said it best when he wrote, "We
are born astride a grave." That's pretty
heavy, y'know.
TONY: That is pretty heavy. I was
sad, till I saw a man with no legs-
STEVE: And boy, did I laugh ...
TONY: I'm giving him all the straight
lines tonight.
STEVE: He throws 'em up, I hit 'em
DAILY: Let's get back to work here.
You've got 10 actors-I need names and
distinguishing characteristics.
TONY: I have their audition forms
right here. Linda Gross. What do you
want to know about her? Her major is
psychology. Some of her past plays
were Peter Pan, Anne Frank, Ann
Frank Meets Peter Pan-
STEVE: Godzilla Meets Peter
TONY:-Gidget, and Arsenic and Old
Lace. She can sing, she speaks
Spanish-Who's next? David
Saling-snappier, wittier kind of ac-
tor- Christy Scott, she's our Southern
belle, did a lot of musicals. . . Mike
Mueller. 1979 state champion in foren-
sics. Great singing voice. In fact, he
played Freddy in My Fair Lady. At the
auditions, we had him sing a capella,
and we joined in. Couldn't help it.
(Sings) "I have often walked.. . down
this street before . . . " Dramatic
roles-he's good at emoting-
WAITRESS: What are you guys
talking about?
STEVE: Sunday Funnies.
TONY: Comedy group on campus.
STEVE: Want to join us? Can you
write? We got a show this
weekend-you're not working then, are
WAITRESS: No, but I have rehear-
STEVE: Rehearsals? What are.you
WAITRESS: My Fair Lady. The Ann
Arbor Civic Theatre.
STEVE: Oh, my God! Right! Which
one are you?
WAITRESS: Eliza Doolittle.
TONY: I don't believe it!
STEVE: Oh, we really hit it now.
Come on, do a little scene for us. Oh,
my goodness. This is like Hollywood.
TONY: Okay, where are we at now?
Stacy Ross . . . Dave Mat-
check.. . and John Wasylyshyn. He's a
Ukranian folk dancer. . . Mark Ren-
ner. He's our token Flexie.
STEVE: We have to have one in each
show, to keep them off the clock tower.
TONY: The Gargoyle already took
care of that one. Mark does the robot
character. See, we do a parody of Star
Wars called "Store Wars" about two
shoplifters, Play-Frisbee-Oh and Obi-
Klepto-Maniac. Audrey Levin and Rich
Slack are two of our recent additions.
Richard's interested in writing.
STEVE: Not interested in shaving off
his beard, though.

TONY: Well, He's going to trim it.
STEVE: See, after this term, we
might do a few little things here and
there, but next term we'll have another
show, a bigger and better show
hopefully in the Mendelssohn.
TONY: In my acting experience,
which isn't super-extensive, between
comedy and drama, comedy is always
a much better feeling. When you have
people laughing, you're the king of the
world. You're the top.
STEVE: You're the Coliseum.
TONY: You're the top.
STEVE: You're the Louvre museum.
TONY: Although we have influences,
and although you could probably,

inevitably, compare us to Saturday
Night Live-
STEVE: James Joyce-
TONY: Ionesco-
STEVE: And Tolstoy-Joseph Heller
of course-
TONY: I've never read Ionesco, but
I'm told that one of my sketches was
heavily influenced by him.
STEVE: Yeah, he knows how to get
those punch lines in. People always
compare us to Saturday Night Live, and
Second City, and we say, yes, but, like-
TONY: Better. (They both nod
resolutely; Steve picks up his guitar
and the check, and they both talk off in
to the night.)

Now through January 4
Admission $2; Students/Seniors $1
Children under 12 with Adults Free.
Hours: 9:30 a. in.-5:30 p. n. luesay through Sunday.
OSA Every Monday
(ON thru Friday
announces dditions!
rr2 new menu a ..



Another Feld evenin
(Continued from Page 6)

1978 Half Time, yet another mass-
cultural pie. On a stark stage lit red,
white and blue, with a single glowing
star at its center, the company inter-
breted the archtypical Americana
themes of Morton Gould's Formations
with generous marching steps, broken
'y sudden twists and quirky gestures.
'he men took over for the "Varsity
Drill" section, forming clean, angular,
,athletic lines-even human pyramids
at one point-in a sublimely funny poke
At swaggering playing-field machismo.
IWith pumped-up chests and ex-
:pressions of pompous joke concen-
trations, they leaped and paused
solemnly for recognition like gangling
-but lithe boys at a track meet.
Megan Murphey whirled onto the
.scene to a slinky big-city musical
theme, tossing around her pom-poms
like a stripper's fans, with a coy
>Playboy 'baby-doll's sensuality. The
-dance lost its satirical energy in a bland
:'sorority Waltz" of shifting group pat-
'ternsnd more pom-pom foolery, and
in a bolder but still unexceptional series
of leaps and lifts among a trio; but it
regained strength in its final moments.
"A baton-twirling Statue of Liberty
",posed majestically center stage while,
behind her, a chorus of facelessly
'manipulated pom-poms waggled in a

succession of amusingly and inten-
tionally distracting gaffes. The ballet
concluded with more grandstanding
ensemble Americana, finally ending
with the corps frozen in a farewell
Half time is singularly uninspired
in all but its most pungently parodistic
moments, elsewhere landlocked bet-
ween humorour exploitation and
straight-ahead, relatively
unimaginative strutting patriotism.
It's a smoothly crafted work, but hardly
one of Feld's most memorable.

Special dinners feature
choice of Chopped Beef or
Fish Filet. and both include E
All-You-Can-Eat Salad Bar
Baked Potato and Warm
Roll with Butter
Fish Dinner

3354 East
Washtenaw Ave.
(Across from Arborland
Shopping Center)
On West
Stadium Blvd.
(Just North of Intersection
of Stadium and Liberty)

Cannot be used in combination
with other discounts. Applicable
taxes not included. At Partici-
pating Steakhouses.
(G)1980 Ponderosa System. Inc

OJbE 1tuilg
Arts Staff

DE TETE" at 7:10, 9:00


"A masterpiece of subtlety and eroticism."
-Andrew Sarris, Village Voice






FRI-7:30, 9:20
SAT, SUN- 1:50, 3:40, 5:40,
7:30, 9:20


5th Ave. of liberty 761-9700
"SHOGUN ASSASSIN" at 7:00, 9:35
When was the
- ~m.....lIst ti me a

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