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November 27, 1991 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-27

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The Michigan Daily Wednesday, November 27, 1991 Page 5
Pere Ubu ex.st tres Kool
Celbrate good times with avant-garde Cleveland
noizemakers who were (almost) too hip for Dave

by Greg Baise
As if you needed more proof, here's
another example of how terminally
out-of-it a major label can be: stal-
wart new wave vanguardians Pere
Ubu were invited to be on Late
Night with David Letterman, but
since the band's latest album,
Worlds in Collision, wasn't selling
in quantities comparable to, say, the
Scorpions, Mercury Records wasn't
about to cover the expenses.
Luckily, lots of musicians aren't so
Pixies play Le
Trompe card
Eyeballs, aliens and scientific
formulas ... Yup, the Pixies,
Boston's sonic guitar pop
alterna-teen heroes are up to
* their old tricks again. After last
year's mediocre Bossanova, Kim
Deal, Black Francis & co. were
looking like the winners of 1990's
I coulda been a contender"
award. But along came Trompe
,Le Monde, the little disc that
could (and did). The first three
songs (the title track, "Planet
Of Sound" and "Alec Eiffel")
alone are worth the price of

exasperated sighs.
The president of Mercury has
since been fired, but Thomas feels
that it's too late for Mercury to
salvage its relationship with the
members of the band. They will
continue to work with Fontana, the
Phonogram subsidiary in London
that licenses Ubu to the world, and
they will start work on a new al-
bum as soon as they finish their tour
opening for the Pixies.
This two-month tour, which ar-
rives in Royal Oak on Sunday,
i~x~ ?>

said. "It limits to some degree what
we do, but on the other hand it's
nothing we can't deal with."
Pere Ubu came from Cleveland,
first uniting on classic pieces of
American secretly historical rock
like "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" and
"Final Solution" in the mid-'70s.
With these early works, Ubu in-
jected American rock with the pos-
sibility of creating challenging mu-
sic, carrying on the traditions of
American musical geniuses like Don
Van Vliet, Brian Wilson and Van
Dyke Parks.
Guess who failed to accept the
challenge, for the most part? And
guess who lost some idealism? "We
were the small generational gap
that was meant to build a brave new
world that had been discovered by
those pioneers of the late-sixties,
and suggested by people like Can,
but all that, of course, short cir-
cuited," Thomas claimed, before
launching into some punk rock revi-
sionism that would shock you more
than waking up to find your "Sid
Lives" T-shirt ripped to shreds.
The post-apocalyptic fallout of
Pere Ubu's influence is still being
felt, though: in covers by Living
Colour, in that theremin in the
Pixies' "Velouria," in the appear-
ance of Eric Drew Feldman (Ubu's
most recent acquisition) on the lat-
est Pixies' record, in Bob Mould's
erstwhile rhythm section (Tony
Maimone plays bass for Ubu as
well, and Anton Fier was a one-time
Ubu drummer). The members of
Pere Ubu are as inimitable as they
are influential, and the sound of
Ubu's world colliding with the
world of the 120 Minutes crowd is
bound to be a unique, lovely sound.
PERE UBU opens for THE PIXIES at
7:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Royal
Oak Music Theater. Tickets are
$19.50 (p.e.s.c) at all TicketMaster

Pish-Tush (Scott Jussila), Nanki-Poo (Jeffrey Lentz) and Pooh-Bah (Robert F-errier) sing "Young man, despair"
in Act I of the Michigan Opera Theatre's production of The Mikado, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
G&S's The Mikado is well
performed but stereotypical

The Mikado
Fisher Theater
November 15, 1991


:,n _;

terminally idiotic, and people like
Lou Reed, Vernon Reid and Perry
Farrell reached into their bank ac-
counts and donated to the aid of Pere
Ubu by making a September appear-
ance, which was a success.
"After we made it clear to
(Mercury) that we were going to go
ahead with them or without them,
they actively tried to stop us," said
David Thomas, the lead singer for
Pere Ubu. "Higher-ups in corpora-
tions have this tendency to believe
that their dictates have the effect of
law, and if you are insane enough to
disagree with them, they become in-
sensed," theorized Thomas between

should be even better than the
Letterman appearance for Pere
Ubu's acceptance as a dorm-room
name, if not a household one. "Most
of the people have never heard of us
before, but we seem to be winning
them over," Thomas said.
Besides the size of the venues, the
fact that Ubu is the opening band
differentiates this tour from Ubu
shows of the past. Other than the
sporadic one-off gig and a brief tour
of Europe opening for Kool and the
Gang, Pere Ubu is used to headlin-
ing, and the band always uses that
time well. "Obviously, we're used
to playing twice as long," Thomas

"It's not an opera at all - it's a musical, a comedy,
a big farce," explains Zale Kessler, the actor/singer
who plays Ko-Ko, one of the main characters in Gilbert
and Sullivan's The Mikado. The operetta, written in
1885, is a satire of various institutions and cultural
mannerisms of different countries, as seen through the
eyes of foreigners.
The Mikado revolves around the love between
Nanki-Poo (Jeffrey Lentz), the son of the Emperor (or
Mikado, played by Richard McKee), and lovely Yum-
Yum (Mary Callaghan Lynch), a ward of Ko-Ko. Ko-
Ko plans on marrying Yum-Yum himself, and he fights
for her as Katisha (Jocelyn Wilkes), an elderly lady of
the Mikado's court, claims him as her possession. The
lovers and contenders come to face the rigid laws of the
Mikado; their dreams are shattered as their struggles
seem to multiply endlessly.
One of the most dazzling performances was
Wilkes' Katisha - a demoness with electrical wires
attached to her head. Yum-Yum, a gentle, submissive
young woman admired for her grace and beauty, was
played by well Lynch, who sang passionate solos to her
adoring lover Nanki-Poo.
Kessler's portrayel of Ko-Ko was brilliant. He
interpreted his character as a stumbling, greedy fool.
Although his antics were hilarious throughout Act I,
they became redundant in Act II. McKee was also
fabulous as the Mikado, the ultimate figurehead of
authority. He stormed across the stage and caused puffs
of smoke to erupt each time his feet touched the stage
The performers in The Mikado, bedecked in tradi-
tional Japanese costume, greeted the audience with
faces caked in snow-white powder and eyes and
eyebrows painted heavily in black; they depicted the
perfect physical caricatures of Japanese warlords and
commoners. Perhaps, however, they weren't portraying
Japanese people at all, but rather British actors trying
to behave like the Japanese.
Aside from what is outwardly apparent in this
operetta, what messages are the actors/singers and
directors conveying to audiences? Is The Mikado a

satire of the British, the Japanese or both? According to
Scott Jussila, MOT's Young Artist Apprentice who
plays Pish-Tush, "The Mikado is a spoof on us - the
actors, the people pretending to be Japanese."
When asked if he thought the operetta was contro-
versial (The Mikado was banned in England and
protested in New York City and San Francisco), Jussila
responds, "It definitely is political. It could have been
any culture dressed up - Black, Thai, whatever. I want
to stress the unity within the diversity; that's what it
means to me."
Kessler claims (a bit defensively), "It is not at all
about Japan. It is all about the British."
But to say that The Mikado is only about the
British culture is naive. It is directly poking fun at the
Japanese and indirectly at the British. Whenever two
diverse cultures confront each other, there will always
be difficulty; one cannot tap into the mental-
ity/mannerisms of another culture unless one is from
the other culture. It is often a superficial, stereotypical
view that one perceives, because that is all the informa-
tion that is given.
If people who have never been exposed to the
Japanese culture went to see The Mikado, they would
probably perceive the Japanese as a submissive, igno-
rant, primitive people who can offer nothing but beau-
tiful fabrics, barbaric politics and automobiles. One
scene shows a row of peasants marching on stage chant-
ing, "Yamaha, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan ..."
The women are submissive, regarded for their
beauty and "educated to be married." Yum-Yum is
shown as a trade item exchanged between Nanki-Poo
and Ko-Ko; even her name implies that she is an object.
Such character names as Pish-Tush, Nanki-Poo and
Titi-Pu all could be taken as a mockery of the very dif-
ferent sounding Japanese language from the English
language, as if it should not be taken seriously along
with the rest of their people and culture.
Asians could see the opera as a mockery of their own
culture viewed through the eyes of Westerners,
outsiders to their culture. It would be insulting to see
foreigners don their clothing and act like they were
Japanese without truly understanding their culture.
The Mikado will be performed at the Fisher
Theater through December 1. Call 874-SING for per-
formance times and ticket info. -Amy Meng

You' re bound to enjoy Ties

by Vicki Briganti
T ake richly drawn characters
within a tight script by Michigan
playwright Kitty Dubin, who has a
keen observance for the essence of
relationships. Add director Julie
Nessen to interpret the text with a
sensitive understanding. Cast seven
completely believable, focused,
committed, controlled actors. The
result: Ties That Bind, an original
play which premiered last Friday at
the Purple Rose Theatre.
Ties That Bind illustrates the
changes that occur during different
stages in relationships. The play
centers on a middle-aged couple -
N'ick Harris (Arthur Pearson) and
Karen Bloom (Jan Radcliff).
* Karen's successful career as a psy-
chiatrist is beginning to have a
detrimental effect on their mar-
Also connected to Karen's life is
patient Elaine Wallace (Phyllis Le-
wis), an older woman who encoun-
ters problems in the lack of com-
munication from her husband, Marv
(Carl Knisely). And furthermore,
MTV 10th Anniversary:
Money for Nothing (9 p.m.,
ABC) should be a real hoot. But
will this trip down memory lane,
featuring Madonna, Michael Jack-
son and R.E.M., among others;
truly capture the irreverent spirit
that has hypnotized our entire
generation, turning our collective
consciousness into mush? Proba-
bly not.
A . ATUBERY 761.9700

the play reveals the conflicts within
the life of the Wallaces' daughter,
Andie (Annemarie Stoll).
According to Dubin, Ties That
Bind is about "relationships in the
Nineties, and the struggles men and
women are going through trying to
find the balance between being inde-
pendent and dependent ... each set of
characters goes through their own
variation of the same struggle."
The changes occur in the wo-
men's lives, as they find their own
strengths. Bind is not, however, a
woman's play. All of the characters
are dynamic. Dubin includes a con-
stant, dramatic pull between the
wants and needs of the self and the
desire to please the partner.
Karen, for example, has the op-
portunity to continue travelling to
promote her book, Close Encoun-
ters, yet she says she doesn't want to
go. "You don't want to go because
you think I don't want you to,"
Nick says. In this scene, Dubin per-
fectly captures the complexities in-
volved in decision making in an 11-
year relationship.
Dubin's realistic dialogue is also
evident in the exchanges between
Elaine and Andie Wallace. Dubin
captures the older woman's practi-
cal side, in contrast to the attitude

of her indifferent daughter, when
Elaine says, "Honey, you're a won-
derful actress, but shouldn't you
take a computer science course?"
Director Nessen and author Du-
bin agree that the play could be clas-
sified as "comedy-drama." Since the
characters are vivid and dynamic, we
are privileged to experience many
facets of their personalities. Dubin
says, "There aren't actually jokes in
the play. The comedy arises out of
the characters themselves and the
situations they are in."
Since Ties That Bind is a new,
working script, it is a result of close
collaboration between director and
writer. The play has had several
months of workshops and readings,
which Dubin describes as an
"intense process with tons of
rewrites." Nessen adds, "It's excit-
ing, because you're creating a whole
new piece of theater and, you hope, a
play that will have a life beyond
where it is now."
TIES THAT BIND will be playing at
the Purple Rose Theatre Company
in Chelsea through December 22.
Performances are Thursdays
through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and
Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For
tickets and more information, call

who what where when

Lita Ford has been around for
awhile - first with the '70s all-
girl group Runaways, and then on
her own. But she only began to enjoy
success with the album Lita a few
years back. Her duet with Ozzy,
"Close My Eyes Forever," and her
semi-hit "Kiss Me Deadly" won her
some long-overdue recognition.
Since then, she's been voted into
Circus magazine's Hall of Fame,

she's been named Best Female Gui-
tarist in Guitar and she's won Best
Female Performer for five years
straight in Metal Edge. Ford's
newest album, Dangerous Curves, is
an explosion of ferocious vocals and
intense guitars. With new LA ex-
port Tuff opening, her live show
will surely rock. Lita Ford plays
this Friday at the Ritz. Tickets are
$8 at TicketMaster (p.e.s.c).

"If your hair isn't becoming
to you you should be
coming to us."
- 7 Stylists--No waiting -
opposite Jacobson's 668-9329



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