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October 13, 1988 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-10-13

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily
Toeing
the Line
*1

Thursday, October 13, 1988

Page 7
Poetic power
Giovanni dons strong attitude

34 Legs.
Add Up
to One
Singular

Sen

sation

The cast of the University's Musical Theatre Department get their kicks in at a recent
rehearsal for this weekend's production of A Chorus Line.,

BY MARGIE HEINLEN
THERE seems to be a "serious and
heavy-handed" stigma attached to
"women's issues." Well, cut it out.
Women's issues can be entertaining
without being reduced to fashion-
able banter.
Poet Nikki Giovanni will read
from past works and address "Race,
Gender and Class" for the Michigan
Student Assembly's women's is-
sues lecture series.
Sacred Cows... And Other Edi-
bles released this year adds to her
collections of essays, poems,
reflections Some of her past works
include All I Gotta Do,Women and
the Men and Black Feeling , Black
Talk, Black Judgement. As the ti-
tles suggest, her topics are wide
ranging - from poverty to Pop
Tarts, insects to ineffectual Black
leaders, ministry to men who walk.
picket lines against abortion ... and;
to women.
"Nothing is easy; nothing is sa-
cred. Somehow, you and I the ordi-
nary grunts who get up in the
morning, go to work, make a little
less than we owe... will lay down at
night, say our prayers to a God we
are not sure is listening and close
our eyes to the howling of sacred
cows on their way to the slaughter-
house. We may not know the truth
but we've learned to. question the
suspect. And after all, isn't that a
beginning?" - Sacred Cows
MSA women's issues commit-
tee is sponsoring Giovanni as part
of a continued effort to raise
consciousness of women, and men,
about women. Chris Fulton of
MSA said of the series, "We wanted
to raise awareness of women in all
work fields and all political orienta-
tions. They're not all political or
necessarily even radical. We want to
attract different crowds with different

interests."
Fulton added, "We want to be
non-partisan and depoliticize some
of these events so they can be for
everyone. People need to be edu-
cated about issues, like proposal A,
for medicaid.funded abortions, Our
main goal is simply education."
So much of who Giovanni is and
how she sees the world moves her
untainted prose and verse. All out-
side stimuli are distilled by her
As the titles suggest,
(Giovanni's) topics are
wide ranging - from
poverty to Pop Tarts,
insects to ineffectual
Black leaders, ministry to
men who walk picket
lines against abortion ...
and to women.
confidence, so that her comes out
clear and strong. And sometimes
even a bit belligerent. But it is
definitely her own.
Giovanni's extremely cynical,
highly punctuated, uninhibited po-
etry shouts of outrage and delight.
Giovanni calls all women,
Blacks ... and people to... think and
take a good look around. Some
things just need to be said every
now and again.
"My grandmother, Louven a
Watson, used to baffle me when she
used to say, I'll be glad when you
get off Fools Hill.' I never used to
know what she meant. I certainly.db
now." - Sacred Cows
Raw empowerment, tougher than
love confidence-it's great stuff try
a little for yourself.

BY BETH COLQUITT

I saw A Chorus Line on Broadway
two years ago. I was surprised be-
cause it was visually very unspec-
tacular. 17 dancers lined up on a
stage. That was all. No background,
no set. Yet those 17 dancers man-
aged to convey an emotional depth
rarely seen in musicals which rely
=heavily on a fancy set and props (for
=example, Andrew Lloyd Webber's
'Starlight Express). The characters
drawn in the book by Nicholas
Dante and James Kirkwood were so
vivid on stage that they drew me
completely into their world.
But it's not just my experience.
A Chorus Line holds the enviable
title of the longest running Broad-
way show in history, and few musi-
cals can boast of the credits that A
Chorus Line has received in its 13
years on Broadway. It has won 10
Tony awards, a Pulitzer Prize for
Drama, and the New York Drama
Critics Circle Award for Best Musi-
cal (1975-76).
For those of you who haven't
seen it on Broadway, A Chorus Line
will run in Ann Arbor for four
nights this weekend at Lydia
Mendelssohn Theatre, performed by
the School of Music's Musical The-
atre Program.
A Chorus Line is ostensibly
about an audition. 17 young dancers
are desperate for a role in the chorus
of a new musical. Only eight will be
chosen. According to Director Tim
"Millett, "The basic premise for A
Chorus Line is a job interview, and,
as in every job interview, there is a
feelng of great expectation and hope
as well as a distinct possibility for
failure for each and every one of the
dancers at the audition."
Millett knows from experience.
WEEKEND

He performed in the Broadway cast
of A Chorus Line from 1980 to
1982, appearing in the role of Zach,
the company's director and choreog-
rapher. For Millett, the pressure was
not so intense when he joined the
cast of A Chorus Line: "By the
time I auditioned, it had been out for
five years. Pressure was off because
it was not a new item." He says that
his experience performing on Broad-
way was thrilling: "It was a big
growth period for me. It was my
first Broadway show."
Landing the role of Zach was a
considerable achievement, especially
for a first Broadway show. Zach,
represented by a voice in the back of
the auditorium for most of A Chorus
Line, is the only character in the
musical who is permanently apart
from the group of performers. He
emerges only to talk to his assistant
choreographer and to Cassie, an old
flame.
While auditioning all the dancers
for the chorus, interviewing each
dancer in front of all the others, he
draws out each dancer's character,
personality and feelings. Despite
their varied personalities and experi-
ence, all reveal their love for dancing
through their interviews, uniting
near the end in the beautiful ballad
"What I Did For Love."
A Chorus Line deals with many
themes, including broken families,
adolescence, and prejudice. However,
none of these themes burden the
musical.
Millett says he hopes that the
University production will not differ
from the original show. He says "I
am trying to reconstruct the original
show. If it does differ, it will be in
lighting, costume design, and set."

The University production of A
Chorus Line will use all of re-
cently-deceased Michael Bennett's
original choreography, with the ex-
ception of "Cassie's Dance."
According to Millett, "Having per-
formed it on Broadway and on tour
for so many years, I feel that Ben-
nett's choreography is as integral to
the show as the music and lyrics."
Millett explains that "on Broadway,
'Cassie's Dance' was originally de-
signed for Donna McKechnie, and it
highlighted her dancing strengths. In
our production, Cassie is a different
person, so we're choreographing her
dance to show her strengths." (When
I saw A Chorus Line on Broadway,
I was lucky enough to see Donna
McKechnie in a comeback perfor-
mance of the role that she made fa-
mous.)
The transition from actor to
director, Millett says, took several
years. While touring with the Cho-
rus Line company, he realized "that
I wanted to direct and choreograph
more than perform. Playing Zach
allowed me the opportunity to be in
the position of a director even
though it was a role and that showed
me how much I really enjoyed it."
Millett, who has been at the
University for three years, is a lec-
turer in Dance with the Musical
Theatre Program. He has over ten
years of professional experience as
an actor, including work on Broad-
way (A Chorus Line and Dreamgirls)

and television credits. At the
University, Millett has chore-
ographed A Wonderful Life, Love
Life, The Merry Widow, and On the
Town. He also directed last season's
A Funny Thing happened on the
Way to the Forum.
The music for A Chorus Line
was written by Marvin Hamlisch,
who recently performed a solo con-
cert at Hill. Some of his best known
songs from A Chorus Line include
"One" and "What I Did For Love."
Millett says of the show, "A
Chorus Line is about hope and the
ability to persevere in spite of the
odds. I believe this production
touches upon something that every-
one has felt at one time or another.
That's what makes it special to so
many, many people. It performed
everywhere because it is a show
about people, not just about per-
formers."
Performances for A CHORUS
LINE begin at 8 p.m., Thursday,
Friday and Saturday, October 13, 14,
and 15, with a 2 p.m. matinee on
Sunday, October 16. Tickets may be
purchased at the Michigan League
Ticket Office, Monday through Fri-
day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ticket
prices are $10, $7, and $5 with stu-
dent I.D. For further information,
please call 764-0450. The ticket
sellers at the League feel it necessary
to warn everyone who purchases
tickets that the original script will
be used, and thus there will be
some... uh... harsh... language.

NIKKI GIOVANNI will appear at
the Union Ballroom tonight at 8
p.m.

s October 15th
Tell your Sweetheart
with a Daily Personal Ad'
The Michigan Daily
S"-"'Classifieds .764-0557
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