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November 16, 1992 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-11-16

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*The Michigan Daily

Monday, November 16,1992


OyamO revives the life of 'Lady Lester'

by Jessie Halladay
Toe-tapping jazz combines with captivating drama
to make the Department of Theatre and Drama's pro-
duction of "The Resurrection of Lady ILester" a wonder-
ful play which chronicles the life of jazz great Lester
Young. The play, written by IUJniversity professor
Oyamn), introduces the audience to Young on the night
of his death and details the memories of his life through
a series of flashbacks.
"Lady Lester" is definitely not a musical. Characters
don't just break out into song at the stupidest moments.
In fact, they don't break into song at all. Instead, it is a
biography of a musician's life. It is most accomplished

when it integrates the music ii iuch a way hiat the m Ii -
sic does not tell the story but :resses its importance.
Director Kate Mendeloif did an excellent job with
this production. 'he transitions from scene to scene
flowed smoothly with no awkward breaks or abrupt
changes. The simple set - a car was creatively con-
structed out of musical instrument eases, with a cymbal
as a steering wheel - facilitated a lot of well-executed
movement. Choreographed by 1 iuda Spriggs, the da nce
scenes were surprisingly lively and upbeat.
The musicians, who were present on stage at all
times, brought consistency to the perlk rmance. They
played almost continually throughout the performance

behind a scrim,, providinig exactly the right touches kt
the atmosphere. ILHowever, the band blended in after
awhile. But just when you stopped thinking about them,
they came on with a jumping number that reminded you
of their vital presence.
As Lester Young, Charles Jackson was superb. An
assistant professor in the Theatre and lDrama depart-
ment, he convincingly stepped in and out of the various
The Resurrection
of Lady Lester
Mencle lssohn Th cater
Novemher 12, 1992
stages of Young's life. Jackson was the backbone of the
play, as all the other characters played of of his emo-
tions. Ilis performance enriched tJyam(.)'s already
strong text.
.lackson wras iupported by a strong cast of charac-
ters. While all [ormances were terrific, there were a
couple of standouts. Kenya Payne added comic relief
with her vital portrayal of Sarah, one of Young's many
mistresses. As Lady lDay, Elise Bryant gave a stunning
perlormance of Billie ILoliday's "God Bless the Child."
11er vocal similarity to this legendary jazz singer added
a convincing note to the play. )espite the fact that these
two women were on-stage for a limited time, they left a
lasting impression.
The play is about more than just one man's passion
fbr music. It is about the struggles of African Ameri-
cans. While set in the early 1900s, many of the situa-
tions carry over to today. OyamO brought the emotions
and politics of the jazz world to the stage in a way that
resurrected the life of one of the most well-known sax-
ophone players of his time.

Billie Holiday (Elise Bryant) takes us back to the golden days of jazz with "God Bless the Child."

Lester Young (Charles Jackson) and his sax.


vursohlget started
on that


The Sound of Music
The Russian pianist-turned-
conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy
will direct the Royal Philharmonic
Orchestra of England in an
international program tonight.
Mainstream German repertoire
will be represented by
Mendelssohn's ever-populur
excerpts from "A Midsummer
Night's Dream" (including the
infamous wedding march). Also to
be included is "Tintagel," by Sir
Arnold Bax, an English arch-
reactionary and Master of the
Kin's Musick. Bax's works have
a individual, regional sound which
is comparable to other 20th-
century Romantic composers such
as Vaughn Williams or Sibelius.
'he final work on the concert is
lDmitri S hostakovich 's devastatin'
Symphony No. 1(. The RPO will
perfto-m tonight at hill Audito-
rium, at 8 p.m. T[ickets are S18 to
$45. Call 764-2538.
Venice, Venice
Stop by the UMMA and take a
look at the exhibition of Carlo
Naya photographs if you haven't
already. These original 19th-

century prints take a look at the
city of Venice. Naya's views of
the Italian city of love will be gone'
after November 29. While you're
there, you might want to hang
around the lobby and play with the:
Tiffany exhibit. Call 764-0395.
Literary secrets
Give a hoot, read a book. What
do you think of Donna Tartt? Is
she a literary genius or just a
commercial ized, overdone,
protomininalist, pretentious
money-grubbing, unoriginal media
creation who's lucky enough to be."
friends with a couple of funous
authors. You be the judge. Buy he
controversial debut novel "The
Secret Il istory" at Borders belore
it moves to ,lacobson's.





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your final acknowl-
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latest in the Rainer Werner
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'theater. This stylized gangster
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again on Tuesday at 9:05 p.m. Call

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there are a lot of people I would like
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With dissertations and
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