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February 06, 1982 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-02-06

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ART S
The Michigan Daily Saturday, February 6, 1982 Page 5

'Dial M
By Elliot Jackson
S HOWCASE'S production of Dial M
for Murder, continuing through
February 6 at the Mendelssohn
Theatre, is an example of that less than
fortunate combination, the fairly good
production of a fairly bad play, or, at
least, a bad play for the purposes of
educational theatre, of which any
college or university theatre program
must consist. But more on this subject
later.
As far as the production itself went,
there was not much to fault, aside from
the fact that as a thriller it didn't thrill.
The first act, in which the smooth ex-
tennis player Tony Wendice reveals the
scheme of murdering his wife, seemed
to take as long, if not longer, than did
the other two acts in disposing of the
rest of the plot. On the whole, things
moved so slowly and methodically that
it was hard to muster up any sense of
breathlessness concerning the unhappy
fate of Mrs. Wendice.
Aside from this central flaw, which
was probably more the fault of the
script than of the production, there
were other aspects that would have
been less irritating had one been able to
become more absorbed in the action on
stage. As it was, however, one had the
leisure to notice things like the
atrocious attempts at English accents,
the mostly unintentional howlers (for
example, the Inspector telling Mrs.
Wendice that he had taken her latch-
key because his "blood was up") which
spoiled the mood upon occasion, and the-
adequate but mostly disappointing per-
formances, the most annoying of which
was Daniel Chace's, who plays Mrs.
Wendice's American lover, Max
Halliday.

rings u
Mr. Chace looks the part so well that
had he been called upon only to stand in
a corner and look decorative, he would
have been perfect. One cannot,
however, carry a perpetual self-
conscious sneer in one's voice and
emergetunscathed from lines like,
"Well, they say that writers will do
anything for a square meal." Perhaps
there is no way that Max Halliday can
avoid looking like a boob, given the cir-
cumstances of the play, but the actor in
the role can and must avoid playing
him like one.
This is not to say that there were no
sterling or even memorable perfor-
mances in the production. The way M.
J. Czernik played Margot Wendice
made that character the only genuine
one in a fantastic situation; one's eye
was always drawn to her whenever she
was on stage. One can only hope that in
a play worthier of her talents, she
would be just as arresting.
Gregg Henry, who plays the
diabolical Tony Wendice, was the per-
fectly engaging, even enchanting,
villain. Tony is the character that must
be convincing to carry off the perfor-
mance, and Henry was bluff, hearty,
and unnervingly cold-blooded to the
exact degree required.
With the two most important charac-
ters so well realized, success of sorts
must necessarily follow, and it did.
There were all manner of nice little
touches supplied by director James
Cramer-meaningful glances between
characters, gestures and inflections
that were absolutely appropriate to
character and situation-that seemed
so right, one was almost convinced of
the play's reality. Aside from the
above-mentioned gaffes, the production
was on the whole a slick and well-
crafted one.
Why, however, Showcase would have

[p disapproval
chosen to lavish so much time and ef- Theatre department. Not that the poin
fort on a clearly inferior play is still of educational theatre is not to succeed
open to question. Perhaps we are meant but certainly it should feel called upo
to be impressed by the Theatre to take risks, to challenge us with an
Program's flexibility, that it can bring be challenged by rich, significan
us inconsequential entertainment by drama.
indifferent playwrights, as well as It is worth noting that in the ver;
serious drama. asame theatre where Dial M is being
It's not hard to succeed with Dial M produced, it takes the Ann Arbor Civi
for Murder-in fact, it's hard not to Theatre to bring us a production o
succeed with it, and therein lies any George Bernard Shaw's Major Bar
quibble one might have with the bara.
rn n, VILAGE 375 N. MAPLE
in MAPLE VILLAGE SHPG CTR 7910
( BARGAIN $SOWS $2.50 Before PM Mon-Fri Before 3PM Sat-sun

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id
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M. J. Czernik: Margot Wendice in 'Dial 'M' For Murder.'
Can t read music,
but he can make it

By Jane Carl
MERICANS, generally, don't
realize that Flamenco guitar and
classical guitar are as different as jazz
piano and Rudolf Serkin," said Sally
Montoya, wife of the world's foremost'
Flamenco guitarist, Carlos Montoya,
who will appear in' Ann Arbor on
February 6 at Hill Auditorium.
Flamenco guitar, based on the
Spanish gypsy tradition, was largely an
undeveloped art before Carlos Montoya
conquered the concert stage as a
soloist. Originally, the principal role
belonged to a singer or dancer, the
guitar was only a chordal or rhythmical
background. Ramon Montoya, Carlos'
uncle, was the greatest accompanimen-
tal guitarist of his day. For a while,
Carlos followed the traditijn; then in
1948, he gave the first full concert
recital of Flamenco guitar music. At
the time, the task was a formidable one
because of the limited reprtoire, but
. Carlos went on to play packed houses
recital after recital.
Montoya was then invited to appear
as a soloist with orchestras, which was
impossible because he doesn't read
music and there was a total lack of
works for Flamenco guitar and or-
chestra. After 25 years, the Suite
Flamenca premiered with the St. Louis
Symphony Orchestra in 1966. Based on
four traditional Flamenco forms, Mon-

toya collaborated with Julio Estsban on
the suite, which transported pure
Flamenco music into the midst of an
orchestra.
Another work was written for
Flamenco guitar and orchestra which
Montoya was to premiere with the Cin-
cinnati Symphony, but because of a
heavy touring schedule, Montoya found
the work too difficult to memorize. The
premiere has never been rescheduled.
The program for a Montoya recital
refers to the pieces in their genetic
names because each selection is Mon-
toya's own composition derived from
the traditional Flamenco motifs. He
improvises a few basic rules into a
complete musical entity.
"Flamenco requires an approach
that is similar to jazz, but it is com-
pletely different music. It has basic
chord patterns, indicative of the form of
the work, and strict rhythms. I think
that Flamenco is more improvisational
than jazz because you start from zero,
there is no known song. The performer
must be a composer and a creator,"
said Sally Montoya.
"There is a quality of excitement in
Carlos' music which is unique," added
Montoya, who is obviously her
husband's biggest fan. Of course, he
doesn't play classical guitar, and he
doesn't read music, but as Harold
Schonberg of the New York Times once
said, "He does something much more
important, he makes music."

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The Bar-Kays - 'Night-
cruising' (Mercury)
Nightcruising shows that the Bar-
Kays are the Rich Littles of soul; they
make a living imitating other people.,
There isn't one song on this album
that sounds like it hasn't been snatched
from another performer. "Night-
cruising," "'Hit and Run," and "Traffic
Jammer" all recall Rick James with
remarkable similarity, while "Freaky
Behavior" conjures up memories of
Cameo and James' recent hit "Super
Freak". "Touch Tone" brings to mind
Foxy's "Hot Number" right down to the
repetition of the lyrics in some places.
The slow ballads, "Feels Like I'm
Falling in Love" and "Unforgettable
Dream," make you immediately think
of the Gap Band and Lionel Ritchie.
Make no mistake, these guys are ex-
cellent musicians and the Bar-Kays
have beeb around much longer than
any of the groups they imitate, which is
a shame. You can tell that they may be
trying to keep up with the times, but at

the sake of losing their own gutsy,
funky rhythms.
There will undoubtedly be a number
of hits off this album, but it will be due
to others' styles and not the Bar-Kays.
This isunfortunate because with their
talent they could be doing much more
than rehashing the current top 10 soul
hits.
-Elizabet James
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SATURDAY, FEB. 6 AT 8:3O
HILL AUDITORIUM

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