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November 15, 1991 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-15

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ARTS

'The Michigan Daily

Friday, November 15, 1991

Page 9

Elitist theater
robs true fans
" A socialist critique of Mandy
Patinkin, Broadway and Che

Jansons carries on
Norwegian tradition
by Julie Komorn

,

by Philip Cohen
M aybe Mandy Patinkin has fol-
lowed a guerilla strategy to his en-
tertainment career. He spreads him-
self out, appears in unexpected
' places and launches surprise attacks
on the rear guard.
After his first appearance on
Broadway (as Che Guevara in Evita)
landed him a Tony Award, Patinkin
quickly ducked into the movies,
playing key supporting roles in
some period-piece-type films like
Yentl and Ragtime. From there, he
took a stab at a Spanish swordsman
in the goofy comedy The Princess
0Bride, and worked from under a
mound of makeup as the alienated
alien in Alien Nation, and spent a
good part of his screen-time with
his back to the audience as
Breathless Mahoney's lovable ac-
companist in Dick Tracy.
After Patinkin released a solo
album last year - Dress Casual -
and put on a one-month Broadway
v solo stint with the same name,
Broadway's highbrow culture-mon-
gers are trying to claim him for
their own. The New York Post's
Clive Barnes called him "the great-
est entertainer on Broadway today
- period," and Howard Kissel
blurbed the show as "the most ex-
citing time I've had in the theater in
ages." With such extravagant
screaming raves, the guerilla star's
cover may finally be blown... from
the movie buff's perspective.
Broadway is too removed, too ir-

relevant to most people's lives, and,
of course, impossibly expensive and
inaccessible. But most likely (I
don't know first hand, because he
was apparently too busy for an in-
terview with a student paper),
Patinkin would have it no other
way; he probably is, as Newsday's
theater critic said proudly,
"Basically a theater man."
And in today's USA, that usu-j
ally doesn't mean theater as it
should be - relevant material per-
formed by dedicated public servants
that has a reason for existing be-
yond the worship of fetishized aes-
thetic mythology. Instead, theater is
aloof, elite performances of mate-
rial you're supposed to recognize
(presumably from previous pom-
pous, overpriced shows), which is
most likely based on mushy liber-
alism and the assumption that ro-
mance is the most basic function of
humanity. It is furthermore per-
formed by overblown self-described
geniuses and other megalomaniacs.
This doesn't say much about
Mandy Patinkin. But then again, nei-
ther do all those rave reviews. So
it's a word of healthy skepticism,
recognizing that in a world at war,
there's no place for neutrality: the
world of aesthetic claimed by the
art of the elites.
Mandy Patinkin is a person of
extraordinary skills, an entertainer
who engages his audiences and pours
himself into his work. In a Theater
Week interview, he acknowledged
that, "To try to be an actor is a very

Among serene mountains and thick forests, the Oslo Fjord breaks into
fingers of water, forming downtown Oslo's lively harbor in the "Land of
the Midnight Sun." Street musicians play throughout the night up and
down Karl Johans Gate, the main street between the palace and the train
station.
Mouth-watering Freia chocolate and not-so-tasty fish and reindeer are
consumed at crowded outdoor caf6s, with animated Norwegians expressing
sing-songy "ja, ja's," while others, bedecked in Norwegian sweaters, hike
by with backpacks and skis.
For a small city of 450,000 inhabitants, Oslo offers much culture,
boasting 60 art galleries and museums and one of the best jazz milieus in
Scandinavia. Furthermore, Oslo is the home of the foremost Norwegian or-
chestra - one Europe's best - the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.
In the late 19th century, there was a period of cultural growth and ac-
tivity in Norway. Playwrights Henrik Ibsen and Bjornstjerne Bjornson
made their way to the literary scene, while Adolph Tidemann and Hans
Gude painted their way into the art world. In 1893, Artist Edvard Munch
created his famous painting, "The Scream," which externalizes the terror,
of a nightmare. Norwegian folk music was first published at this time,
which helped to promote an interest in the national musical idiom.
And in 1871, Norway's most famous composer, Edvard Grieg, founded
and conducted the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Still going strong, the Orchestra returns to Ann Arbor this Sunday for
its second performance under the leadership of its distinguished music di-
rector and conductor Mariss Jansons. The concert will feature a
performance by young German virtuoso Frank Peter Zimmerman in,
Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor. The
Orchestra will conclude the program with Dmitri Shostakovich's
Symphony No. 7 (also known as the Leningrad Symphony), which became a
world success in 1941. This piece is supposedly representative of the heroic
Russian resistance to the Nazi siege.
Over the last 20 years, the Orchestra has gone through tremendous artis-
tic growth. A number of outstanding conductors have been instrumental in-
this particular development: Herbert Blomstedt (1962-68), Miltiades-
Caridis (1969-75) and Okko Kamu (1975-79).
Under the inspired leadership of Jansons since 1979, the Oslo'
Philharmonic has garnered international praise for its worldwide tours,.
and its recordings having been recognized with many prestigious awards,
including four Norwegian Grammys.
Since 1982, Maestro Jansons and the Philharmonic have toured Europe
and Japan in addition to North America. They have also performed ato
prestigious festivals, including Salzburg, Edinburgh and the London'.
Proms.
Long considered one of the Soviet Union's leading conductors, they
See OSLO, Page 12

"Don't cry for me, Argentina!" Ahh, Mandy, Mandy, Mandy. You broke
your promise! $29.50? Whatever happened to theater for the masses?
You could make another movie, but even Showcase tickets are six
bucks now. The only solution: a Community Access Television tour.
delicate thing; you're exposing your Michigan. If you can't hack it, t
soul." His delicacy, his precision may yet be a movie version of E
and his feeling for both audience and with Patinkin again playing C
material shine through his work - and sooner or later it'll end up
in his recordings no less than on video.
stage or on screen.
For those who admire the relent- MANDY PATINKIN IN CONCE
less quest for perfection, a some- DRESS CASUAL plays this Sun
times quirky but always original at 8 p.m. at the Michigan Thea
performance, and a lot of Broadway Tickets are $29.50 and $23.50,c
standards, Patinkin's Dress Casual student rush tickets will be av
is tailor-made - by all means rob a able for $15 at the door, starting
bank and beat it down to the p.m. Sunday.

here
vita
-he,
on
RT:
day
ter.
and
ail-
at 7

f I -

All I Want For Christmas is my money back,"

5/

All I Want For
Christmas
dir. Robert Lieberman

by Marie Jacobson

L ast year's Home Alone was a
mercurial hit. It had a fun, light-
hearted message that appealed to
kids and adults alike, with John
Hughes directing precocious little
Macaulay Culkin through the slap-
stick mayhem.
All I Want For Christmas, di-
rected by Robert Lieberman, clearly
hopes to follow in Home's lucrative
footsteps. To do so, the filmmakers
(apparently holding the belief that
"more is more") employed two pre-
cocious little kids, along with
Lauren Bacall, Leslie Nielsen and
Saturday Night Live's Kevin
Nealon, to make a feeble attempt to
tug at your heartstrings (and your
wallet).
Let me level with you: I'm no
Capra or Scorsese, but if I were di-
recting a film, I'd want to have the
basics covered - you know, maybe
toss in some dialogue that doesn't
always seem stilted, create believ-
able situations and fill my starring
roles with people who could -
now wait, go with me here, make a
willing suspension of disbelief -
actually act. But what do I know?
Here's the basic story line: Mom
Catherine (Harley Jane Kozak) and
Dad Michael (Jamey Sheridan) have
been divorced for nearly a year.
Their kids, 7-year-old Hallie (Thora
Birch) and 13-year-old Ethan (Ethan
Randall), can't bear to face a
Christmas with their parents sepa-

rated. But before they can do any-
thing to stop her, Mom becomes en-
gaged to Wall Steet bore Tony
(Nealon), whose well-meaning but
anal retentive nature doesn't score
points with the kids and their ac-
tress grandmother (Bacall). With
Santa, some scatterbrained plans,
and a whole lot of luck, Hallie and
Ethan set out to dump Tony and re-
unite Catherine and Michael.
Let's have a reality check here -
I have four little brothers and a lit-
tle sister, and although I'm sure we
love each other in our own way, we
don't sit around in Polo shirts and

Jessica McClintock dresses chattingt
about the meaning of family.
Instead of showing our affection in
sage heart-to-heart gabfests, ourt
deep expression of love is more
along the lines of "live and let1
live."{
Hallie and Ethan don't live onj
your street, and with a home out of
Architectural Digest, two servants
at their beck and call, and their own1
TVs and VCRs, I'd hazard a guess
that they don't live in your neck ofc
the woods, either.4
But the greatest problem the
film faces is clearly in the casting

department. Sure, there's Nielsen as
Saint Nick, a delightful Nealon,
who breathes life into his stereo-
typed role, and a resurrected Bacall,
who comes out smelling like roses
(her rendition of "Baby, It's Cola;
Outside" is one of the only bright
moments in the film), even in thi.
fiasco. v.
Nielsen, Nealon and Bacall, area
however, only the supporting cast.
Kozak and Sheridan are nothing spe-,
cial as parents, but at least they
aren't completely miscast. Bu-
frankly, Birch and Randall are atro-
See XMASPage12

lhe members of Amazin' Blue striKe a really adorabie pose near
Rackham Auditorium, where they'll perform tomorrow.
Shake, rock and roll
The Glee Club andAmazin' Blue
4ouble your pleasure at Rackham

by Diane Frieden
The good news is that followers
of both the Women's Glee Club and
Amazin' Blue don't have to deli-
berate between attendance at one
concert or the other this weekend.
Each musical group is taking a
different night to shake Rackham
Auditorium with its own sound and
unique flavor.
Even though the members of
both organizations like to mix up
their vocal repertoire, they have
differences in format and presen-

tation. "Musically, there's more
variety, ranging from classical to
opera to Michigan music," says Earl
Coleman, the director of the
Women's Glee Club.
Anna Callahan, musical director
and member of Amazin' Blue, says
that she and her colleagues cover
everything from "pop, jazz and
Sixties doo-wop to original pieces
written by members." Karl Kasisch-
ke, who also sings for Amazin'
Blue, adds, "We do songs that
people don't expect to hear without
See RACKHAM, Page 12

Lauren Bacall has sailed a loooong way from Key Largo, trading Bogie in for a pair of precocious brats (Thora
Birch and Ethan Randall) in the first of many schmaltzy Home Alone rip-offs, All Want For Christmas.

a

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