5th A e at liberty 7614700
The Michigan Daily
Saturday, April 3, 1982
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Marial Hemingway and Patrice Donnelly: Tow athletes competing for the Olympics and for each other.
Best isn t good enough
By Richard Campbell
IT'S BEING publicized in revealing
(interviews in Playboy,Rolling Stone,
and Runner. It stars ,Mariel
Hemingway, a slightly more respec-
table version of Brooke Shields, in a
role that is a mixture of Rocky Balboa
and Marilyn Chambers. It is a movie
with enough sex to entertain non-
athletes, and enough athletics to enter-
tain everybody. It's Personal Best, and
it's playing atla theater near you.
The plot of this made-for-TV caliber
movie is simple enough. Chris Cahill is
a 19 year-old hurdler, who becomes
romantically involved with another
female athlete, Tory Skinner. With
Tory's help, Chris gets a tryout for the
university track team, and, through
diligent effort, makes the team.
Alas, troubles appear on the sports
horizon when Chris 'becomes good
enough, through the talents of the nasty
but lovable coach, to challenge Tory at
her own sport - the pentathalon. The
Personal Best takes on a lot, and
comes through with surprisingly little.
The characters of Chris and Tory are
one-dimensional, bringing depth to the
occasional scene but having no con-
sistency over the two-hours of the film.
Hemingway, and the rest of the cast,
have the hard task of showing their
growth over a four-year interval, but
the movie looks like it could take place
during one summer. Hemingway pouts
like a child at the beginning of the film,
and pouts like a child at the end.
The sexual relationship between
Cahill and Skinner is a very small part
of the movie. Though it is supposed to
show how Cahill matures, it really only
fills in the off-track sequences. In these
-scenes it is,interesti g to note that the
acting of new-comer Patrice Donnelly
is substantially better than
Hemingway's. Donnelly manages to
imply that she is really Tory Skinner,
rather than seeming completely out of
place, as Hemingway does.
The editing of the track sequences is
rather ordinary. You're not going to see
anything that you wouldn't see on Wide
World of Sports. In fact the entire
movie, except for some nudity and
strong language, wouldn't seem that
out of place on TV.f
Personal Best is a bland little film
that is going to get more than its share
of publicity because of its supposedly
breakthrough, screenplay. This is a
screenplay that drops characters in the
middle of the movie, invents corny
situations to fill in time, and generally
does nothing new or interesting. It is
definitely not one of the best. Even
Rocky III might be better.
By Carol Poneman
T HURSDAY NIGHT'S premiere of
Jesus Christ Superstar is a classic
example of innovation gone bad, taking
a production with many high points and
pulling it downward.
The main problem with the produc-
tion is its inept casting. Loren Hecht,
who plays Judas, shows a great deal of
energy in her interpretation of that
main role, but she is never very convin-
cing as the embittered yet dynamic an-
tagonist, neither through her voice,
which did not have the range necessary.
for the role, nor her acting, which was
unvaried, nor through her movements,
which were choppy. Hecht never
achieves the presence and power that
the role demands and instead becomes
only a distraction, pulling attention
away from other stronger members of
The strongest cast members appear
in the supporting roles and give the
musical its spice. Todd Edward, who
plays Annas the Priest, was both
sinister and comic as he interpreted the
character as both hunchbacked and
Pilate, who holds a more central role,
is played by Shawn Howard. In
"Pilate's Dream" he gives a quietly:
moving performance with a strong and
expressive voice. These same qualities
are featured in "Trial By Pilate" where
he remains true and forceful, never
straying from character.
Stealing the show is Herod, played by
Judy Milstein. Traditionally, Herod is
played by a male actor. But Milstein
pulls off her interpretation by adding a
key element - Humor. Crass and
flashy, "Herod'sSong" has the spark
that is lacking in much of the musical.
Milstein and her back-up chorus mem-
bers take the ragtime music, dive into it
and make it theirs.
Obviously, the role of Jesus, played
with a beautiful voice by Jon Zimmer-
man, is essential to the musical. Unfor-
tunately, Zimmerman lapses in and out
of character throughout the production.
In "The Garden of Gesthemane" and in
"Poor Jerusalem" he sings movingly
and builds up the needed emotions for
the psychologically demanding songs,
but in other scenes, like "The Temple,"
he moves out of his role as he changes
from shouting to singing. Disappoin-
tingly, whenever he shouts, a mid-
western accent comes out and Jesus is
lost in the translation. Still, Zimmer-
man plays his role well and sincerely.
The chorus is attractive and skillful
and many members are distinguishable
for their agility and athleticism.
Especially well done was "Hosanna,"
"The Temple," and "The Arrest." The
choreography, however, was
sometimes repetitive and leaned a little
too much on the standard disco influen-
Superstar is rendered less engrossing
by the constant appearance of
microphones, both as body packs, cor-
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dless mikes and regular corded mikes.
While it is necessary, with the loud rock
music of the score, to amplify the
singers, these microphones are quite an
anachronism with the biblical plot.
Jesus Christ Superstar is certainly
not an easy musical to produce. Thur-
sday's performance succeeded because
of the strong performances of many of
its players. Yet, through errors in
casting and in other key areas, Super-
star did not have that final polish of
professionalism often seen in other
MUSKET productions that would have
made it a complete success.
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The new Philip Glass album is typical
of this artist's output of the last decade.
The repetitive rhythm structures, often
soothing in their predictability, build up
throughout the course of the LP to oc-
casional heights, but when it's all over,
the listener feels denied. The decep-
tively sparse-sounding instrumentation
of each piece makes the album an ideal
studying tool - careful listening to the
music is not required, and the rhythms
reinforce one's concentration rather
than detract from it.
Yet unlike the ambient attempts of
Brian Eno and others, the music will
stand up to repeated and close
listenings. Glass was rigorously trained
as a classical musician, and his in-
tricate knowledge of modular struc-
tures shows through. His "Ensemble"
- which includes the diverse sounds of
the bass synthesizer, piccolo, and
French horn - handles the varying
rhythms remarkably well and manages
to convey the ethereal quality typical of
most of Glass's work.
While not on a par with some of his
other records when it comes to ex-
perimentally; Glassworks, succeeds by
its outward simplicity. Each piece
leads quite well into the next, reem-
phasizing various themes throughout
the work. It is a gentle, deceptively
elaborate album conducive to mental
gymnastics of complete mindlessness.
Any incompleteness felt after its con-
clusion may merely be a longing for
more. Listen to it-the simplest things
are the hardest to explain.
- Tony Corbeill
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