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February 15, 1988 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-02-15

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The Michigan Daily-Monday, February 15, 1988-Page 9

In recent years, the Power Series
has gained a great deal of favorable
exposure for presenting diverse,
thought-provoking productions.
Certainly this weekend's "Zappa!"
not only added to the recognition of
the series, but also to that of the
faculty and students of the Dance de-
A primary objective of the con-
cert was to illustrate the acerbic so-
cial commentary that remains a ma-
jor theme in the music of Frank
Zappa. The medium of modern dance
proved distinctively effective in ex-
pressing his ideas.
The presentation demonstrated
several approaches to choreography.
Linda Spriggs' vivid expository
work "...Cure for all ills," portrayed
the urban street scene as both
altruistic and discordant. The charac-
ters represent different strata of soci-
ety alternately in conflict and in
With "Heels," Jessica Fogel ac-
tively challenged the traditional role
of women. The socialized weakness
and innate strength of women is de-
picted in juxtaposition via the child-
like gestures, executed with vigor.
Initially, the women are shown as
automatons, ending the piece by
flinging their pumps rebelliously
across the stage.
The sinuous choreography of Pe-
ter Sparling is showcased in several
pieces. "Minuet," a lyrical variation
on the 18th century dance genre, was
finely and precisely consummated.
The composition, set to music from
the album "Francesco Zappa," makes
a mockery of the snob appeal and
inflated self-importance often appar-
ent in the community of classical
music appreciation.
"Jazz from Hell," Bill DeYoung's
choreographic effort was full of ex-
pansive, emotional movement.
Comprised of seven parts, the piece
exhibited a wide range of moods,
from the continuously mobile
"Introit" to the sultry duet "Fever".
Also worthy of mention is the
striking costume and set design of
John Schak, a recipient of a grant
from the Rackham School of Gradu-
ate Studies. The sparsely impressive
set serves as an eloquently dramatic
backdrop for the performers. The
costume design is particularly stun-
ning. The unitards are painted with a
day-glo Haring-esque motif in one
piece and in another, they are ran-
domly slashed and dyed in muted
The lighting, designed by Mary
Cole, supervisor of staging and
lighting for the Dance department,
accentuated the dancers and the set
fantastically. The various colors of
the overhead lights created an effect
as the stark,. fluorescent rods that
extended from the floor to the ceil-
"Zappa!" was immensely enjoy-
able and entertaining. The time and
hard work that was devoted by the
faculty and students of the Dance de-
partment is visible in this endeavor.
The intensity of the music and the
creativity of the dancers formed an
extravagant melange of energy and
interpretation that deserves great es-








The lights went down ... Four
actors stole onto the stark round
stage of the Trueblood Theatre, and
the lights came up. The characters,
each in their own individual spot-
light, began to chant and sang the
song of the Black slave in the first
notes, the first words, the first
rhythms of Samm-Art Williams'
Directed by Assistant Theatre
Professor Charles Jackson and pro-
duced this weekend by the Black
Theatre Workshop, Home is the
story of a southern Black man, Ce-
phus Miles, who travels north dur-
ing the Great Migration. It spins an
unbelievable tale that portrays the
degradation of dislocated southern
Blacks when faced with the reality of
the northern "promised land."
Steve Dixon played Cephus from
ages 16 to 40, moving through all
the ages with surprising ease. At the
opening of the play, Cephus' body
language screamed of adolescence,
yet as the storyline continued,
Dixon's movements matured to
match Cephus' age. In addition,
Dixon portrayed a magnificent range
of emotions as Cephus.
Robin Murphy played Cephus'
childhood sweetheart, Patti Mae
Wells. The play depicts Patti Mae as
a religious girl - she won't have
sex with Cephus until he is "saved".
Yet Home also allowed Patti
Mae periodically to step out of her
propriety. Notably, one scene de-
picted Cephus' erotic dream of Patti
Mae while he was in prison. Here

Murphy, under a blazing red spot-
light, bumped and grinded above
Cephus with an intensity far beyond
the Patti Mae seen throughout the
rest of the play. Murphy moved be-
tween these emotions deftly, com-
plimenting the character with her
fine performance.
Devon Cadwell played every other
male character in the play but Ce-
phus. He gave his most outstanding
performance as the Broadway Slick
who invited Cephus to his demise.
With just a pair of aviator-mirrored
sunglasses, and a complete
personality overhaul, Cadwell
jumped from the drawl of Cross-
roads, North Carolina to the fast
talk, rap-beat of the city. He reprised
the character often throughout the
play, always coming back to the
pounding refrain of "the subway
rolls" as a metaphor for city life.
Michelle Wilson moved through

a myriad of characters and brings
each one to life with talented preci-
sion. She and Cadwell both carried
off lines of impressionistic poetry,
usually as a duet; Wilson's projec-
tion filled the audience with her
message and power. Wilson breathed
into her character the pride and in-
dignation of the Black woman, con-
stantly playing the devil's advocate
to Cephus. As the city-seductress
Wilson squared off with Cephus, de-
clared, "Where there is no money,
there is no love," turned briskly on
her heel and moved out.
Charles Jackson and his produc-
tion team presented Home as sim-
ply as possible. Randall Zieback's
stage was sparse with only a few
moveable boxes. It was open to in-
terpretation and allows the play to
create the backdrops needed for the
scenes to succeed. Accordingly, Sara
Bettinger's costuming decisions

succeeded in their simplicity.
Charles Jackson debuted as a di-
rector in Ann Arbor with this
beautiful production. His staging
was never forced, and his actors were
prepared and comfortable in their
roles. The good staging, fine light-
ing, and an overall consistent pro-
duction showed a depth of under-
standing of the entire production that

only a sound director can achieve.
The fast action and impressionistic
storyline of the play provided many
loopholes where the production
might have missed its mark, but ev-
ery scene came to the audience as an
artistic entity in itself, as well as a
contribution to the whole message
that was Home.
-Kate Stilley,

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Bands needed for
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March 9, 10
Finals March 12
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