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September 22, 1984 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-09-22

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Saturday, September 22, 1984 Page 5

Three Bicyclists

in Central Park

By Dave Kopel
T O PUT ON a good play, you don't
T need an ornamented set, a com-
plicated plot, or a cast of thousands.
The Ann Arbor Civic Theater's produc-
tion of The Key Exchange is a case in
point.
The Key Exchange has only three
characters and a spartan set. The only
action is a series of vignettes of the
characters talking in a park.
All three characters are bicyclists,
who meet every so often in Central
Park. As the play opens, we meet
Michael - a young newlywed whose
wife is busy at a dance rehearsal - and
Michael's new friend Philip, who brags
about his "open" relationship with his
girlfriend.
Philip's girlfriend Lisa - also a
cyclist - enters the action a few scenes
later. Over the course of the play,
Michael's off-stage relationship with
his wife deteriorates, as does the on-
stage relationship between Philip and
Lisa. Reacting to the changing
relationships, all three of the charac-
ters go through important changes.
Playwright Kevin Wade packs a
great deal of thought into this simple
plot. Although there isn't much action
to the story, the fast pace of the plot and

the dialogue keep the audience in-
terested.
In fact, Wade's dialogue is the
highlight of the play. Fresh, energetic,
and witty, the script shows Kevin Wade
to be an outstanding young author.
Like the dialogue, the set accom-
plishes a great deal without being fan-
cy. All there is to the set is a small hill,
a bench, and a few other props. Direc-
tor Fran Gerken Foster adroitly uses
every square inch of the set, and places
the cast in dozens of interesting con-
figurations.
While the play itself and the produc-
tion are uniformly strong, the acting is
not. In several scenes, the actors recite
their lines, instead of living them. This
is particularly true in the early scenes
between Michael and Philip. The script
has several scenes requiring near-tears
emotion, but none of the actors looks
choked up convincingly.
The actors do loosen up, though, as
time goes on. Part of this is due to
Pamela Nethers' fine performance as
Lisa. Her sparkly exuberance loosens
up the rest of the cast. Thom Johnson,
as Philip, begins as one-dimensional
character, but ends up the most in-
teresting person in the play.
His arguments with Lisa about their
relationship are among the play's fun-
niest and most touching scenes. And as
Michael (Jeff Schneiter) has more and
more trouble with his wife, he becomes
more and more confident and relaxed
on stage.
All three characters communicate ef-
fectively with their bodies. For exam-
ple, when Philip and Lisa take a quick

roll in the grass together, we learn not
only of their mutual physical attrac-
tion, but of Philip's unstated dependan-
ce on Lisa - and Lisa's ambivalence
about Philip.
The Key Exchange may not be the
most memorable evening of theater you
well ever see, but at five dollars a
ticket, it's a good bargain. The Key
Exchange continues its run tonight;
Sept. 20, 21, and 22; and Oct. 4, 5, and 6.
And by the way, the Ann Arbor Civic
Theater will be having an open house
and tour tomorrow (Sunday) from 2 to 5
p.m.
- -4
£icipan
Classifieds
get
results!

Thom Johnson, Pamela Nethers, and Jeff Schneiter are Philip, Lisa, and Michael-the entire cast of 'The Key Exchange.,

Claudia Schmidt has fun at Mendelssohn

By A ndy Weine
There is a movement within folk
music that has recently supplied it with
many of its most exciting and in-
novative performers. Women's music
may have begun with Holly Near but it
has since been picked up by a host of
talented singer/songwriters - far from
the least of whom is Claudia Schmidt.
Schmidt's irresistably enjoyable
music and poetry had the audience at
'Mendelssohn Theater in jitters through
most of Thursday night's concert. For
instance, she sang on the familiar
Michigan humidity ...I would go for a
walk, but it's too much trouble to
push the air out of my way....
Everyone could laugh at "An Im-
pending Visit to Aunt Agatha's," an up-

beat song satirizing how enjoyable While lesser musicians often rely on a
visits to ill or aging relatives can be. gifted voice at the cost of instrumental
Adding to the spirit of fun, Schmidt competency, Schmidt provided a fine
sang that old Oz favorite, "If I Only Had balance of the two.
A Brain." Spirited songs like "Fanfare For
Schmidt also delivered her musical Forsythia" captured the audience with
mastery and artistic brilliance to the both vocal and instrumental beauty.
audience. This mastery was especially Schmidt's genious truly shined in the
evident when she played the dulcimer poetry she recited between songs.
and the pianolin. Rather than play songs disjointly, as if
The pianolin, a wierd relative of the from arbitrary checklist, she connected
autoharp, combines the fine plucking of tunes, providing an aesthetic con-
classical guitar with the bowed sound of tinuum that made her show flow like a
a violin. This unique instrument was a symphony.
strong musical asset for Schmidt and Her original poetry glittered with
her music. metaphors like blood-red maples and
What really caught the ear, though, old woman earth, and lines such as
was Schmidt's high, wild voice, which Even when the sky is wide-eyed as 1
resounded with a rich texture pedal through the park on my big
reminiscent of Joni Mitchell vocals. yellow bike, with bare legs, on a

September day.
Surprisingly, Schmidt sang none of
the political or social material that has
defined her reputation in past concerts.
Although her provocative material was
missed and would have improved her
performance, it is hard to ask more
from what was already an outstanding
show.
Much of the concert's appeal lay in
Schmidt's mood and energy. She
seemed to sing not by rote, but out of a
real love for music and people. She
joyfully leaped octaves with her voice,
jumped up and down on the stage like a
bubbly schoolgirl, and, waving her
hands, solicited singing accom-
paniment from the audience.
Many concerts seem like so much
work that the performers have to do,
but Schmidt gave the impression that
she was having as much (if not more)
fun than the audience.

i

I

r, .. .

Folk Artist Steve Goodman dies at 36

By Joseph Kraus
Good mornin , America, how are ya'?
ITH THOSE words Steve Good-
man burst onto the folk music
scene in 1969 with "City of New
Orleans," a classic ode to the life
surrounding the passenger train.
But on Thursday night he stepped
quietly off that stage when he died of
complications from bone marrow tran-
splants treating his leukemia. He was
36 years old.
Over the years, Goodman came to
Ann Arbor several times. His first stop
was at the Ark in 1970. His final perfor-
mance was a sellout show at Lydia
Mendelssohn in April.
His shows were a mixture of humor
(he describes a mandolin as "the bot-
tom four strings of a guitar upside-
down - if you can play the guitar and
you're dyslexic, there's nothing to it.),
virtuoso instrumentalism, and outstan-
ding original compositions.
For a time he even tapped into the
popular music scene, earning a con-
tract with Asylum Records. But
dedicated as he was to topical songs
and interpretations of traditional songs,
he never quite achieved the commer-
cial success that had been prophesied
for'him with "City."
One legendary story about Goodman
Itells that on the day the scouts from
Asylum signed him, he dragged them
down to a neighboring club and had
them listen to his friend, John Prine.
Prine was subsequently signed by the
label.
Within the last year, he was still
planning to continue putting out the
music that he loved. Having been drop-
ped from Asylum in the late 70s, he
forkied his own label, Red Pajamas,

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Singer/songwriter Steve Goodman was a regular at AnnArbor's Ark.

and released two albums on it.
One of those albums, Artistic Hair,
pictured on its cover a smiling Good-
man standing in front of a barber shop
with the few strands of hair left to him
after chemotherapy - he was still
smiling.
Distribution problems prevented
Goodman's final albums from being
circulated as well as they should have
been, but his diehard fans sought out
enough of them for him to make a
living. At his last Lydia Mendelssohn

show, one woman made up several t-
shirts listing the names of all his
albums, and circulated them to several
friends.
In the fifteen years of his professional
career, Goodman did live up to the
promise of his first famous song, ar-
tistically if not comercially. Remaining
a topical singer in a time when it had
become unfashionable, he continued to
ask the question."Ameria how are

you?" -
poorer at

Chicago Symphony returns to

Put a little classical in your life.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra,
under the direction of British-born con-
ductor Raymond Leppard, will be in
town tonight performing three
magnificent pieces: Overture to The
School for Scandal by Samuel Barber,

the Civic Orchestra.
Leppard has worked with the CSO
several times and the chemistry ap-
parently clicks. He's done a great deal
of recomposition of older works, but the
inclusion of Barber's piece shows that
Leppard is by no means stuck in an
aural rut.

, aaa? naaaa , v. a
- and surely, today we are "A VERY GREAT FILM.
his death "A MARVELOUS MOVIE.
-Dino LUlli, KNBC Channel 4 New.
AnnArbo
Weu
'.9a.

F

I

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