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March 29, 1990 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-03-29

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The Michigan Daily
Landscape plays to
mature audience

Thursday, March 29, 1990

by Ami Mehta
JUST as there are magazines and
there are adult magazines, there are
plays and there are adult plays.
Although its title doesn't allude to a
higher level, In A Northern Land-
scape can be classified as an emo-
tionally-charged adult drama of love
and destruction.
The actors in this University

e st
For close to one
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Players production, however, are
barely adults themselves. The cast of
nine is composed of students por-
traying the brilliant yet brutal story
of a 1920s rural Minnesota family
that has been destroyed by a taboo
love affair between two of the sib-
lings. This liaison causes the de-
struction of the rest of the family as
well as the community.
This unique plot is only one of
the several dimensions of the play.
The story line is somewhat intricate.
The several complex layers are re-
vealed on a set which is contrast-
ingly stark and simple. Playwright
Timothy Mason's original script in-
corporates a series of flashbacks as
well as poetic language to re-enact
the illicit passion and shocking re-
sponse to the forbidden love affair.
"This manner in which it is told is
very strong. It shows not only
flashbacks but relived memories
making the play very theatrical,"
says director Barry Goldman.
As an assistant professor of the-
ater and drama, Goldman proposed
that the Players perform this particu-
lar production because it would ex-
pose the student body to a different
subject matter and it would tie in re-
gionally to Michigan. He says he
feels In A Northern Landscape and
the theater in which it is to be per-
formed is an appropriate choice.
With its small capacity, the True-
blood Theatre creates the intimate
environment that is vital to the plot.
Another dimension that broadens
the depth of the play is the lighting,
sculpted by Tony award-winning de-
signer Richard Nelson. Also a Uni-
versity professor, Nelson worked
with his students to produce the
proper setting for the play. "This is
an evocative play including the past
and present, reality and memory. The
lighting helps to establish all of

Pa e 5
Gilbert and Sullivan
revived in pastiche
by Sherrill L. Bennett
WVILLIAM S. Gilbert and Arthur S. Sullivan were an unlikely pair.
"Temperamentally, they were very different men," says tenor Geoffrey
Shovelton, once a member of the now-extinct D'Oyly Carte opera
company. Shovelton will be joined by five others from the old company
for a grab bag performance, The Bestof Gilbert and Sullivan, at the r
Michigan Theater tonight. "Gilbert was slightly aloof, had an acerbic t it
and made enemies quite easily," Shovelton says. "Sullivan was much mpore
easygoing and much more popular and likeable."
After their first collaborative effort, the long-forgotten opera Thespjs,
neither artist imagined their relationship to be a lasting one. But the
performer Richard D'Oyly Carte had other plans. "D'Oyly Carte brought
Gilbert and Sullivan together and gave them an opportunity to work
together," Shovelton says. After their first successful effort with Trial by
Jury, D'Oyly Carte saw potential in the duo. "He realized that this wawa
gold mine," Shovelton says. "These two chaps had a unique talent ,
That unique talent, the combination of dry British humor perfectly set
to delightful tunes, still keeps audiences hungry for G&S comic operetta.
That is why members from the old troupe, including Shovelton, baritones
Kenneth Sanford and Alistair Donkin, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Daniels;
soprano Sandra Dugdale and accompanist David Mackie are back by *
"popular demandry," as Shovelton puts it. The six performers in evening
dress will perform signature tunes from the G&S operas Princess Ida,,;
Trial by Jury, lolanthe, The Mikado, IIMS Pinafore, Gondoliers and.
The Pirates of Penzance. "For G&S enthusiasts, this is an opportunity to
taste a little of 12 operas," Shovelton says. This format provides a broatler
sampling and, at the same time, a more intimate look at the composers.
"One of the things that has kept this group together is an agreement,
about the philosophy of performing Gilbert and Sullivan," Shovelton #
says. "We are traditionally oriented." The group's aim is to accurately
reproduce the original intentions of the composer and lyricist. "Gilbert was
very, very precise in his attention to detail. We are trying to carry that n.
Other directors sometimes bring non-Gilbertian humor to their
productions, but one of the libretto's main objectives is to create definite
characters and let them tell a definite story. Anything that obscures
characters or a story is an incidental that shouldn't be there," Shovelton"{
One aspect of Gilbert and Sullivan that Shovelton says he particularly
enjoys, audience reaction, continues to reunite him with the work of the
two operatic icons: "If I can justify my privileged existence as a performer,
it is by way of the enjoyment it seems to give audiences," he says. The
Gilbert and Sullivan production fills Shovelton's schedule for the next two
weeks, but he is a well-rounded performer who assumes many different.
roles from the operatic repertoire: "From Puccini to Verdi to Rossini to
Gilbert and Sullivan; it all fills the diary and so it goes."


Looking somewhat like a scene from A Clockwork Orange, members of
the University Players perform In A Northern Landscape, a play for adults

V ..

these situations," says Nelson. Hav-
ing designed lighting all over the
world, he claims there is no real
difference between working in ballet,
opera or theater. Although different
styles may be used, lighting has one
purpose - to add intangible aspects
to a production that the actors cannot
create. "It not only illuminates
people but illuminates the text," said
Nelson regarding the play.
In A Northern Landscape, a tale
of lust, forbidden relations and mys-

tery, paints a picture of a situation
not so common to modern theater.
Its various dimensions come to-
gether to create a balanced theatrical
piece for mature audiences only.
being performed tonight through
Saturday and April 5-7 at 8 p.m. and
April ] and 8 at 2 p.m. Shows are in
the Trueblood Theatre in the Frieze
Buildin; tickets are $7, $5 for stu-


Lincoln's Minutes
in the Michigan Daily

TH E BEST OF GILBERT AND SULLIVAN will be performed at 8 p.m.
tonight at the Michigan Theater. Tickets are available at the box office
for $16; Student rush $8.




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