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March 04, 1983 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-03-04
Note:
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Live'
waves
The 1940 s Radio Hoaur
Professional Theatre Program
Power Center
8 p.m. Friday-Sunday, March 4-6,
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, March
and 8 p.m. Sunday, March 6.
By Coleen Egan

audience clap
designated times.

or laugh at the

2 p.m.
4-5, 2

T HE IDEA OF using radio for pur-
poses other than commercial or
military was out of the question before
1920. That year, the election returns in
which Harding defeated Cox for the
United States presidency were broad-
cast to an audience near 1,000. Home
radio sets immediately became the
popular time to buy and people played
with them until they tired of just trying
to receive a signal from far away. They
wanted to be entertained.
Radio soon became the entertain-
ment medium through endorsements
and advertising, with dramatic presen-
tations and its own star system. It made
big bands and individual musicians
famous and presented dramatic news
coverage. It also put America in tough
with personalities that were larger than
life.
The 1940s Radio Hour, a Broadway
musical-comedy written by Walton
Jones, recreates what home audiences
never saw and places the audience in
touch with radio's most sparkling era
at the Power Center March 4-6.
Radio Hour reproduces a live radio
broadcast at Christmas time in 1942
complete with a give-away contest and
a stage manager who requests that the
Father
figure
The Father
Professional Theatre Program
Trueblood Arena, Frieze Building
105 S. State
8 p.m., Monday, March 7-Sunday,
March 13
By Julie Bernstein
E ACH YEAR hundreds of aspiring,
anxious, ready-to-perform actors
and actresses can be found hanging
around the Frieze building waiting for
audition sign-up sheets to be posted.
The major auditioning pool here at
Michigan is as diverse as they come -
ranging from high school majorettes to
biology students to theater majors at
the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The latter group includes many
students working toward a Master of
Fine Arts degree in a newly-developed
three-year acting program. The.
training involved revolves around daily,

Performers imitating stars such as
Frank Sinatra and Frankie Vallee in
hair style, costume, song, and stance
remind the audience of the, popular
music and star performers that
remained the most important elements
of radio programming. And the comedy
routines in the show hint at the essential
part they played in the lives of people in
the nation trying hard to forget their
economic woes.
Dancers do the jitterbug, the studio'
orchestra plays songs made famous by
Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Artie
Shaw, and others, and singers croon
tunes such as "I'll Never Smile Again,"
"I Got It Bad,"and "I'll Be Seeing You."
In addition to the entertainment of
the era, Radio Hour also captures the
patriotism and sentimentality of
American life during World War II
when radio played a major role in
disseminating the propaganda which
would unite the nation against the
enemies.
The advertisers who helped the net-
work shape radio into the most enter-
taining selling medium of the time are
not forgotten either. The show attempts
to convey the corny fun of commercials
about products popular during the '30s
and '40s, including Chiquita Banana,
Eskimo Pie, and Pepsi Cola.
With all the ingredients, Radio Hour
theater audience is led to believe it is
actually sitting in the Algonquin room-
of the Hotel Astor in New York City's
Times Square. They are an active part
of the popular "Mutual Manhattan
Variety Calvalcade" program being
broadcast by WOV.
The show comes to Ann Arbor
following a successful two-month run in
Dallas which helped spark the current
eight-month national tour. It first
opened on Broadway in 1979.
The 1940s Radio Hour swings with the

Troub le
boy
Trouble in Paradise
Randy Newman
Warner Bros.
By Michael Baadke
T'M DIFFERENT, and I don't care
who knows it, Randy Newman
sings. Well, that's getting to the point in
record time, and in Mr. Newman's case
it's about as accurate as yo" can get.
His sentiments are echoed by a super-
bly over-sweet chorus featuring Linda
Ronstadt, Wendy Waldman and Jen-
nifer Warnes: when Randy sings "Ain't
gonna play no goddamn game," they
blushingly respond with "gosh darn
game."
Trouble In Paradise.
Ronstadt and friends aren't the only
stars to show up on Newman's latest
effort: Bob Seger and Don Henley con-
tribute vocally to a little rock-n-roll
weirdness entitled "Take Me Back."
Lindsey Buckingham and Christine
McVie sing along with Randy when he
claims "I Love L.A."
But the best guest shot is easily Paul
Simon's co-lead vocals on "The Blues,"
playing straight man to Newman's set-
up. "Wait, until you hear this sap,"
Newman implies, as he reels off an in-
tro chock-full of personal disasters at-
tributed to Simon. And with perfectly
over-wrought pathos, Simon begins to
warble, When I was nine years old /

My daddy ran away. .. The verse is
tailor-made for Simon's best timorous
vocals, and Newman, as always, pin-
points the problem immediately:
"He's got the blues, this boy/Has really
got the blues."
Although he's best known for his
humor (evidenced in his 1977 hit, "Short
People"), some of Randy Newman's
finest compositions are serious and
sometimes tragic in nature. "Sail
Away," from the album of the same
name, will always stand as a landmark
work for him; it's a narrative of the
treachery and deceit used to convince
prospective slaves of a paradise
awaiting them in the New World.
"Christmas inCapetown," from the
new album, is a song filled with the
anger and hatred that seems to
resonate from that South African city.
The racist epithets dispensed by a white
resident seem blunted by his own con-
fusion, however: he asks, "What are we
gonna do, blow up the whole damn
country?/I don't know." The jaded
hostility and fear aren't easy to contend
with, and Newman offers no false hope
of resolution.
As the title despairingly promises,
Trouble in Paradise comes true more
than once on this album. With "Same
Girl," a portrait of love that nears
adoration carries with it the harshest
possible edge, and again there's no
escape from what is real.
Newman's compositional musician-
ship often borders on remarkable, as he
lines up lyric with melody in each song
to create a showcase for his skill. Even
in parody he is amazingly precise, as on
"Mikey's," where a bar patron
despairs, Didn't used to be this ugly
music playing all the time/Where
are we, on the moon?
His complaints are slowly drowned
i out by the pounding rhythms of syn-

thesized techno-rock virtually devoid of
melody. The funniest aspect of the song
is that after a couple of listenings even
the "ugly music" sounds good, and it's
an incredible contrast to the soundtrack
to Ragtime, for instance, which
Newman composed and conducted two
years ago.
As "different" as Newman is, his at-
tention has a tendency to wander on oc-
casion, resulting in songs like "Miami"
and "There's A Party At My House."
While they're interesting enough
musically ("Party" rocks maniacally),
the cuts seem directionless and fall
short of Newman's best. The
weaknesses are minor, though, and are
compensated by the real gems.
One of his favorite targets in the past
has been the human oblivious to reality,
and Newman zeroes in on just such a
self-aggrandizing buffoon (disguised as

himself)
fronted w
doing poo
cope with
might be
paradise,
a kinky li
cesses, thi
Hills hote
Springste
Bruce, he
said to hi
would yo
while? Th
teacher's
problem
shouting,
bag!
Newmar
his talents
can take I
ferent. Tro

JOHN PRII

MICHIGAN THEATI
FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 8:00
Reserve Seating - $8.50 8
Available at Michigan Theatre I

Radio Hour: Mike show

'40s and provides a memorable ex-
perience for the audience. "If you lived
through the '40s you are likely to well up
with teary eyes and then chuckle with
delight," wrote Richard L. Coe in the
Washington Post. "If you arrived too

classes in voice, movement, text
analysis, and acting, as well as actual
performances. The current Master of
Fine Arts production, August Strin-
dberg's play The Father, features four
second-year and three first-year MFA
students.
The Father shows Strindberg at his
finest, as the playwright'examines the
psychological conflicts and mistrusts of
a 19th century family. Gregg Henry, a
second-year MFA student, plays a
father whose attempts to send his 16-
year-old daughter away leads him into
direct opposition to his manipulative
wife.
In an effort to gain control, the wife
advances doubt of the father's pater-
nity, and soon all the complex familial
relationships come out in the open. "If
you close your eyes for a minute, you
miss something," says Michael Gold-
berg, a MFA actor who plays the family
doctor. "Every scene is vitally impor- -
tant, and if the audience wants to ex-
perience it, they'll be enthralled every
minute."
The director of The Father is master
acting teacher Radu Penciulescu. He
compares the play to a modernized
Greek tragedy with all its extraor-
dinary passion, family themes, and
social restrictions. "The Father is like
walking on thin ice, where you can feel
the ice cracking; every moment a

catastrophe can happen," explains
Radu. "A traditional play has an ex-
position, a development, and a climax;
here the play starts with the climax and
goes for two hours. It's an incredible X-
ray of a catastrophe."
Penciulescu is a man of process, not
product. His approach to such tragic
material is to avoid the common ten-
dency to make actors "comfortable
loudspeakers delivering the text,"
rather than real individuals reacting to
concrete situations.
Radu has a very distinctive style of
teaching. He defies the prevalent in-
structional method of performing a
multitude of scenes one after another;
he seeks to encourage individual ex-
ploration of the play's essential ideas
rather than presupposing how a role
should be played before the process
begins. "Nobody really knows -
there's-no pre-established role," says
the director. "The point is to explore the
subject of a project, not to define it. The
ends of a project are (accomplished) by
the process of developing the project it-
self."
To help his students approach
material focusing on values of different
times and societies, Radu had them
work on Anton Chekov's The Seagull
while rehearsing The Father. Both
plays necessitate a developed historical
awareness in order to understand both

late for that, you first will hoot and then
become ever so tender."
Special group discount tickets and
twp-for-one tickets with a student I.D.
are available at the Professional
Theatre Program ticket office.
Chekhov's Russian aristocracy and
Strindberg's puritanical attitudes.
The main thrust of Radu's teaching is
to expand his students' creative poten-
tial. "The problem is to enrich the
qualities of the (actors) . . . (so) that
they should be able to fulfill
professional-like requirements later on
- but not only that. If it should be only
that, it should be very little. They
should have horizons and prospectives
which are much farther than that. They
are dealing with the future of the
American theatre, not with the past.
"These people are not supposed to fit
frames which are established. They're
supposed to do their own frames. The
problem is to find out how many
openings you can establish for them,
not how many endings. To construct the
theatre and use everything you know
and to make a solid structure which is
supposed to be like that, is a crime
against the future of the theatre. You
have to find out as many ambiguous
and flexible forms as you can in order
to provide an eventual house for the
performances which will be invented
tomorrow."
Says Henry of his director, "He's
always willing to kick you one step fur-
ther, no matter where you go. . . or if a
scene is going well, he'll make you pur-
posely do something weird just to throw
you off balance and find it again." 2

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