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October 08, 1990 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-08

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'The Michigan Daily

Monday, October 8, 1990

Page 7




Plot is flat in
Each time that I have seen shows
about drag performers, I couldn't
help feeling that things are suddenly
not as they appear. I tried to figure
out who was cross-dressed and once I
saw them out of drag the picture of
the performer's alter ego remained a
permanent and essential part of my
impression of the character. Al-
S0ough this is the intention of direc-
tor and choreographer Jim Posante in
Tom Simonds' musical comedy
Drag, I left the theater feeling
somewhat cheated of that dual im-
pression of the main character.
Drag is the predictable yet
acutely funny account of Stanley
(David Moore), alias Beneatha
Sheets, a highly impressionable gay
kmale impersonator who wishes to
Mcape from a past wracked with un-
successful relationships. The play
opens as Stanley's best friend Judy
hands him a "Dear John" note from
his lover written on a bar napkin.
Stanley tries to play it off as no big
deal, but he is obviously hurt.
But as fate would have it, when
he goes to the zoo he meets George,
feigns a casual liking, yet falls in
ve instantly. As the two men
spend progressively more time to-
gether, George begins to feel threat-
ened by Stanley's overwhelming af-
fection and flees. Soon after, George
asks Stanley for another chance and a
fresh start. Stanley immediately ac-
Although the plot is simple, Si-
monds' musical numbers add gen-
uine artistic dimension. Several of
i pieces that take place in the club,
Sam's Golden Rainbow, directly re-
flect Stanley's personal life. This
juxtaposition of club performances
with the outside world not only add
levity to the sad situations, but it
also enhances the difficulty of Stan-
ley and George's breakup.
Velma La Velma's (Rob
Reiniche) "Little Bit of Beauty" is
gso especially entertaining. In it he
ings about the importance of appre-
ciating the virtues, many or few, of
every living creature. His visual aid,
a growing phallic cactus, is hysteri-
cal. Trixie De Luxx's (Edwin J.
Dobski) flamboyant romps and ram-
blings provide an intriguing contrast
to Stanley's waxing philosophical
about love.
Despite these strong perfor-

mances, others lack the refinement
which would strengthen Drag's im-
pact. The ensembles are not well
synchronized, and in the opening
number, "It's a Drag," the players
display minimal facial expression
and their movements are not nearly
as garish as they could be.
Stanley's apprehensive stage
presence deters the most from my
appreciation of Drag. The minute
Stanley dons a dress, his stilted
manner and nervousy stagnant stares
are shocking. Stanley tells George
how free he feels as Beneatha, yet he
seems to feel ridiculous wearing a
wig, heels and foam breasts. Conse-
quently, I have difficulty understand-
ing why Stanley is the featured per-
former at Sam's.
Although this show does not
suspend my disbelief, Simonds'
script is funny and incisive. His
lyrics are clever, and the music
memorable and particularly enjoy-
able. Seeing Drag in the '90s, after
the popularity of Torch Song Tril-
ogy, La Cage aux Folles, an d
Cabaret may seem an exercise in re-
dundance. Yet the show, which Si-
monds wrote before both Torch
Song and La Cage, actually focuses
upon several pertinent issues during
a time when homosexuality was not
as readily accepted into the realm of
the performing arts.
Performance Network will con-
tinue showing Simonds' thought
provoking musical through this
weekend. Contact 663-0681 for in-
-Ilene Bush
Dancers fuse
hotand cold
A dance company with a split
personality is a perplexing phe-
nomenon in which one troupe can
produce work with original themes
and flawless execution, yet within
the same show is able to turn around
and perform at an amateurish level
with no motivation to speak of.
How does this strange phenomenon
occur? I examined this question with
a prime example: Night of Fusion,
performed by Jazz Dance Theatre this
I entered the theater with a feeling
of hopefulness and apprehension and
hundreds of questions ran through
my mind. Would the dancers over-
whelm me with their finesse and
grace? Would it be two hours of

drudgery? If it was awful, would my
date speak to me again? Hey, he's
the one who picked that awful Chi-
nese restaurant so he can't com-
plain... Well, suffice to say my con-
centration was keenly tuned to the
task at hand.
The first number, "High Stakes,"
began with potential, but despite the
period costumes (the eight dancers
were dressed as craps shooters in
suspenders and bowlers) and lively
music by David Sanborn, the dance
came off like a high school recital.
The choreography was elementary
and the dancers' stiffness clearly
showed in their facial expressions
and movement. I settled into my seat
at Mendelssohn Theatre anticipating
a very long evening.
"Breakers," the next dance, blew
my theory. The dancers, wearing
flowing dresses in seafoam colors,
performed in graceful synchroniza-
tion with complex movement and
elegant confidence. The difference
was incredible.
From here the show got progres-
sively better. Renee Grammatico,
the company's Artistic Director, de-
fied her trite choreography in "High
Stakes" with "Magnetic Love," a
wild description of women's frustra-
tion within one-sided relationships,
and "A Strange Little Dance."
Decked out in black leather and derby
hats, Grammatico and Barbara
Hobyak gave a playful and creative
interpretation of a quirky relation-
ship in the sexy, jazz style of Bob
Fosse in "Dance."
The performance quality fluctu-
ated between some fairly dry solo
works and creative, moving interpre-
tations. "Desert Madonnas" inspired
by works of Navajo artist R.C.
Gorman contained a sophisticated
mix of languid sensuality and raw
desperation. This premiere work,
choreographed by Judy Austin, was
impressive and the dancers' talents
shone. And after waiting myself to
get to the end of Grammatico's
"Waiting," she again surprised me
with the picturesque and whimsical
"Easy Street." The dancers' garb was
similar to that in the first number -
men's vests and fedoras. However,
the style was much more polished
and the confidence and energy level
was increased considerably.
I don't know how to account for
this hot and cold performance, but
the dazzling outweighed the mediocre
by far, making for an entertaining
night. Now about that Chinese
-Elizabeth Lenhard
Save theLP!
. Daily Arts

Kottke & Co.
prove music
can be simple
Every day in the morning when
Leo Kottke gets out of bed and he
gets out of bed and he gets out of
bed, every day in the morning when
Leo Kottke gets out of bed... the
things he must be thinking. The
man's sense of humor is twisted. It
is also hilarious and he was at the
Michigan Theater Thursday night to
prove it.
But it is not just Kottke's hu-
mor, which this time around in-
cluded a tale about a fork stabbing,
that is so endearing. His fret work is
amazing and, although he claims au-
diences are divided on this one, his
vocal work is thoroughly enjoyable.
Kottke had his newest tool in
tow, a six-string bass guitar which
provided a deep, rich tone for sim-
pler, less electronic-sounding ver-
sions of tunes off his latest release,
That's What. While it seemed that
the majority of the audience was at
the theater to see Kottke's virtuosity
with his stringed instruments, his
vocal tunes were also well-received.
It is hard not to feel affinity for a
man who stands humbly on stage,
strums an acoustic guitar and la-
ments that "everybody tries, every-
body lies." The man speaks the
truth. He may speak it in vulgar
terms sometimes but that just makes
him all the more accurate.
Jazz duo Tuck and Patti began the
evening's theme of simplicity. This
guitar-and-voice combo's perfor-
mance assured that the tradition of
really good vocal jazz will be carried
on by at least some members of the
younger generation. Audience mem-
bers who were apparently at -the
show for the sole purpose of seeing
Kottke were delightfully surprised by
Tuck Andress' tricky and provocative
Hair Styling with
a Flair
- 6 Barber Stylists
Opposite Jacobson's

Mark Webster wil
be missed in Arts
M ark Webster, a 29-year-old student in the University's MFA Creative
Writing program, died at his home last Monday. We knew Mark as a
Daily Arts staffer before he went on to write articles for the Ann Arbor
News. Mark wrote mainly about music and books; at the Daily he was
considered our "folk aficionado." In his writing, he was always rigorous
in his research, enthusiastic about the subjects and thoughtful in his
words. He believed in the power of writing, not just to inform but to
move us. In both his poetry and journalism, Mark was completely
dedicated. As a graduate student with publishing experience, Mark's
opinions were highly valued. His genial sense of humor and words of
encouragement were greatly appreciated by those who knew him. We will
miss Mark's words, but most of all we will feel his absence in the Arts
office and around campus. We are grateful to have had a chance to work
with him.
-Daily Arts staff

guitar work as evidenced by their
shouts of approval. Patti Cathcart's
scat-style vocals were carried out in
the style of all the greats.
For the last two songs, Tuck and
Patti were joined on stage by ac-
claimed singer and noisemaker
Bobby McFerrin. While briefly
showcasing his ability to make all
kinds of sounds with his vocal
chords, McFerrin for the most part
abandoned his bizarre techniques and

engaged in an inspiring scat duo
with Cathcart. For an encore, Tuck,
and Patti came out looking new-agey
lovey-dovey (but it was their an-
niversary so who can blame them?}
and ran through their best-known
tune, "Takes My Breath Away."
"Don't you know, jazz takes my
breath away?" Cathcart sang. Ain't
that a fact.
-Kristin Palm


Would you like to represent the University of Michigan in the Big Ten
Bowling & Billiards Tournament?
If so, come play in the U of M Billiards Qualifying Tournament on Sunday,
October 14 in the Billiards & Games Room in the Michigan Union.
The winners in both the men's and womens' divisions will represent U of M
in the Big-Ten Tournament to be held here in Ann Arbor on October 27
and 28.
Come to the Billiards & Games Room on the second floor of the Union or
call 763-5786 for more details.





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