the Michigan Daily
Thursday, November 30, 1989
Carpenter to practice
Ian Knauer and Patrick J. Beller play in Noel Coward's Present ""id"""t
Laughter. The past is sure to take a sardonic, yet subtle, beating.
Cowardly wit in
BY JAY PEKALA
To mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Noel Coward's comedy Present
Laughter, University Productions is tackling the British wit's sardonic
look at entertainment and entertaining in the stylish 1930s as part of the
School of Music's Power Series 1989-90. University professor Philip
Kerr directs the production; in the past few seasons, he has brought The
Taming of the Shrew, The Skin of Our Teeth, and last year's Midsummer
Night's Dream to the Power Center. The cast includes students from both
the theater and musical theater programs.
Describing the play, Kerr says, "Present Laughter is one of Coward's
brisk and sophisticated light comedies. The play centers around a middle-
aged idol and his household of friends, ex-wives, debutantes, and
eccentrics. As he plans his next triumphant tour, managers and budding
playwrights descend on him in a dizzying spiral of intrigue and
complications." Kerr is not new to the Present Laughter script, either,
having performed it numerous times.
The design team of Gary Decker, Tracy Eck, and John Gutowski have
combined forces to create the glamorous set, lights, and costumes of the
wealthy group of British highbrows in the late '30s. Each has worked
meticulously to provide the students with a historically accurate world in
which to perform. Decker's spacious library set is richly cluttered with
furniture, books, photographs, and other knick-knacks that add to the
lived-in look. Eck's lighting'ranges from creating early morning sun
through four double-story windows to casting the dim glow of small
incandescent sconces along a staircase. Gutowski's costumes wrap his
actors in double-breasted pinstripes, silk robes, overcoats, skirt suits, and
sequined evening gowns.
What remains to be seen is how well the young cast can handle
Coward's eloquent play of words and manners.
PR ESENT LAUGHTER starts tonight at the Power Center at 8p.m. and
plays tomorrow and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are
$10 and $7; student seating is $5 with I.D. Tickets can be purchased at
the ticket office in the Michigan League.
BY MARK SWARTZ
With her second album, State of the
Heart, flying high on the Country
charts, Mary Chapin Carpenter
seems destined to be one of the
more successful of the new wave of
young songwriters. Carpenter per-
forms at the Ark tonight. FYI: She is
not related to Harry Chapin or the
Daily: A lot of the songs on State
of the Heart have a strong narrative
quality. "This Shirt" and "Goodbye
Again" could be short stories. Where
do you get the ideas for your songs?
Mary Chapin Carpenter: I tend to
write from experience. A lot of them
are stories about people I know or
myself. I feel free to exploit the
lives of my friends. I try to be delib-
erate and accurate. The truer the song
rings to me, the more satisfied I'm
going to be with it. Songwriting is
sort of hard. I can't really pick apart
a song and say this came this place
and that came from that place. It's
more a process of turning it into a
story and not overanalyzing it.
D: What can a song do that a story
MCC- A song is a vehicle to tell a
story as is a novel or a short story.
With songs, there's music too, and
that to me is what accentuates a
Mary Chapin Carpenter, who will perform at the Ark tonight, is an apt storyteller, proving that musical notes
don't invalidate words.
mood or emphasizes a feeling that
I'm trying to express.
D: And the type of music you play,
that kind of country or folk or what-
ever seems particularly suited for
MCC: I guess, but there's lots of the Ark?
story songs in rock and roll, too. MCC: Actually, it'll be my second,
D: True. Chuck Berry is a great sto- although the first time was so many
ryteller. years ago that I don't even remember
MCC: Sure! what year it was. It was on a night
D: Is this your first time playing at See CARPENTER, page 7
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