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April 14, 1993 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-04-14

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t

ARTS

'Bngadoon' teaches and entertains

by Melissa Rose Bernardo
The foul-smelling yet popular theatrical genre I
fondly call techno-drama appears to be making its
departure. Along with manyother theaters across the
country, the University's Musical- Theater (MT)
department has opted for a more seasoned, classic
production. Their decision to produce "Brigadoon"
is an education in musical theater history as well as
an education for its performers.
"Brigadoon" is a classic tale of fantasy and
romance, one of the first collaborations of lyricist
Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. It
is the story of a village which-magically appears for
one day in every 100 years. Two. New Yorkers,
Tommy Albright (Josh Rhodes) and Jeff Douglas
(Jason Dilly), are on a fishing trip in Scotland in the
1940s when they come upon an enchanted village
which is (mysteriously) not on the map. And the
people in this village are dressed in clothing from the.
1700s. Well, Tommy falls in love with .one of.
Brigadoon's young women (don't tell me you're
surprised), FionaMacLaren (SusanOwen).Al would
be well and good if Tommy were not engaged to
another woman in New York. Does Tommy love
Fiona enough to stay in Brigadoon and give up all
relation with the contemporary world?
Okay, so the story is predictable and hackneyed.
Why bother with yet another cheesy love story?
Director Brent Wagner, a lecturer in the MT depart-

ment, explained that "Brigadoon" was selected not
only for its appeal to an audience but also for its merit
in the academic MT program.
"Remember that the students who. are in
'Brigadoon' are training to be professional perform-
ers; they're part of a BFA program in musical
theater,"Wagner pointed out. "So what we do is pick
a variety of shows for them to present which empha-
size different aspects of the training they need to get
... as wide a variety as we can so that-the style of
music, story and dance are varied from show to
show." "Brigadoon" represents a classical era of
American musical theater known as the "Golden
Age," a productive period from 1943 to the late '60s
which included such shows as "Oklahoma!" and
"My Fair Lady."
The music of - "Brigadoon" was of particular
interest to Wagner. "We chose it because it puts a
great emphasis on choral singing, which is some-
thing we haven't done in a while.... It's got a
sensational score-oneof the best surely that's been
written for a Broadway musical.... It's very lyrical
and melodic, very lush and very rich," he said.
As both a director and a teacher, Wagner feel that
working with the students is no different from work-
ing with professional actors. "We really don't ap-
proach the rehearsals any differently than we would
with professionals," he said. "However, (as a teacher)

growth through the years."
"I's in some ways far more rewarding than-some
professional productions where you come together
at-the first rehearsal and put it together in two or three
weeks and then it's over. Her, you really are con-
tributing to their long-term education," Wagner ex-
plained.
The MT department has a history of aiming high
in their productions. The show involves intricate
choreography, demanding very strong classical bal-
let and some Scottish folk dancing. The cast totals 39
people, requiring much interaction among ensemble
members. "Achallenge is to put it on the stage. There
are a lot of crowd scenes ... and some of the dancing
is very difficult," Wagner said. He has spent much
time researching Scottish culture, developing ocy-
pationsandclans for the cast members.Additional
all but two characters speak in the Scottish dialec
"I think that we set very high standards - alf
us do, the students included - and as a result
work to achieve those standards," Wagner said.
"I think the students come away with a real
educational project as well as an exciting show to
give to the public."
BRIGADOON will be performed April 15-17 at.8
p.m. and April 18 at 2 p.m. at the Power Center.
Tickets are $14, $10, $6 students with ID, and are
available in advance at the Michigan League
Ticket Office. Call 764-0450 for information.

"Brigadoon" was one of the first collaborations of Lerner and Loewe.

I'm aware of their work

from classes and their

To be or not to be 'Ophelia'
Basement Arts play rearranges focus of Shakespeare's play

by Laura Alantas
To be or not to be certainly is the question. In Jenie
Dahlmann's "Ophelia," however, Hamlet is not the character
who grapples with this dilemma. Rather, the title character
Ophelia does.
In a re-writing of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," Dahlmann
has shifted the focus from the Danish Prince to his enigmatic"
love in an attempt to empower Ophelia and give her a voice
of her own.
"I played Ophelia this summer and realized how little she
has," said Dahlmann. "She's the mad woman. A woman
portrayed as a tragic heroine who goes crazy because of
unrequited love." This stereotypical characterization leaves
many of Ophelia's emotions and motives untouched. Be-
cause Dahlmann was not content with this portrayal of
Ophelia, she decided to create a show of her own.
Keeping the original language intact, Dahlmann simply
edited and rearranged the order of scenes within the-text to
focus the show on Ophelia. "I'm not so conceited to say that
I'm going to re-write 'Hamlet.' I've placed this show within.
a completely different space and time," said Dahlmann. The
only additions to the original text are a prologue and an
epilogue. "In the prologue and epilogue, Ophelia is in the
afterworld reflecting on her life and deciding to tell her life
story from her point of view," Dahlmann explained.
What we see from Ophelia's point of view, though, is
rather tragic. "By exaggerating the absurdity of some of the
men around her who are concerned only with themselves,
their plots and their plans, the show becomes comical. A lot

of the tragic element comes out through the comedy of how.
Ophelia's treated by these men;" said Dahlmann. "We're
playing up the absurdity of .how the men deny her as a
person."
A significant part of the denial of Ophelia as a person
results from the expectations that society places on women.
"Tie first thing I want, to establish is that women are
supposed to play very specific, contradictory roles. A good
girl for your father. A playmate for your brother. A sexy, free
woman for your lover," explained Dahlmann. No woman
can live up to these contradictory expectations, though. How
Ophelia deals with these demands will be explored through
her relationships with the male characters, particularly Ham-
let and her father Polonius.
Ophelia's relationship with her mother Queen Gertrude
also interested Dahlmann. "At the end of the play, Ophelia
looks to her mother as a support, for a community of women
to fight against the demands of the men," said Dablmann.
"Gertrude denies her this support, though, and we see the
ramifications."
Experiencing new interpretations of Shakespeare has
always intrigued Dahlmann: "I've always loved watching
performances that take the original Shakespeare and turn. it
on its ear. These shows are fun to watch. The audience can
grasp on to it andconnect with it. The language does not even
become an issue, and the show connects to everyone's life."

'X' Night
If you haven't seen "Malcolm X"
yet, hurry up to the MichiganTheater
tomorrow night. Spike Lee shows off
his finesse with the camera as he
recounts the life of the contraversial
civil rights hero. Denzel Washington,
nominated for an Oscar, gives an en-
ergetic performance in the title role.
Lee manages to evoke shades of
"Lawrence of Arabia," "GoodFellas"
and even "Raging Bull" in this film,
which is truly his masterpiece. The
film plays tomorrow night at 8:35.
Call 668-8397.

Most musical 'Gondoliers'
by Karen Lee
Ah, those wacky, crazy guys, Gilbert and Sullivan. Leave it to them to write
a comic operetta about, among other things, the conflict between the ideologies
of class and republicanism. And not only did they make "The Gondoliers"
politically correct.(sort of), they also, according to director Mary Locker at the
Gilbert and Sullivan Society, made it the-"most musical" of any of their works.
"The Gondoliers" is about two brothers, both gondoliers, one of whom is
supposedly the baby prince that the king of Barataria hid away 20 years ago after
marrying the infant to a princess. So, while the Grand Inquisitor is trying to
figure out which one of the gondoliers is actually the king, the brothers set off-
to Barataria and proceed to turn that nation on its head by doing away with the
traditional class system and implementing one of egalitarianism.
That's the plot on a superficial-level. Underneath, said Locker, "the show is
about contrast-contrast between the Grand Inquisitor and the rest of the upper
class and the republican brothers, contrast in class relationships, contrasts
between male and female." On that note, she wanted to stress these conflicts -
of course, without bringing down the show.
While most operettas concentrate mostly on vocal technique, Locker wished
to emphasize the acting and the dialogue. "This is such a-talented group," she
said. "Not only do they have gorgeous voices, but they are also wonderful actors.,
Usually, you have a couple of really good actors and the restjust get by, but here,
each performer can really hold their own on a stage."
Locker also wanted to point out that "The Gondoliers" is Gilbert and
Sullivan's liveliest and most "musical" show, with the performance starting off
with almostahalfhourof straightmusic and dancing. In thatrespect, theoperetta
was.attractive to her for the choreographic opportunities - "for the sheer,
joyous physicality of it."
There aren't too many chances left to see it, though. "Saturday and Sunday
are almost completely sold out," said Locker, "and we'd really like to see people
in those seats. on Thursday and Friday, especially the students."
THE GONDOLIERS will be performed at the Mendelssohn- Theater, April
15-17 at 8 p.m. andApril 17 and 18 dt 2 p.m. Tickets are $8- $12. Student
seating is $5 with ID. For more info call 763-1085..

OPHELIA will be performed in the Arena Theatre in the
basement of the Frieze Building, April 15 & 16 at Sp.m.
and April 17 at 2 p.m. The show is free..

Washington

Are you artistic7
If you do pen and ink drawings or
cartoonskomic strips, Weekend
etc. needs you. For information
call Nima, Melissa, Jessie or
Aaron at 763-0379

.Biwenstod

o - FA-

SELF-SERVE
COPIES
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REG. COPIES ;c
20# White, 8.5x11
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STUDENT PARKING AT U,-M
Limited Space Available for Fal
Parking Services will again be : I
able to provide a limited amount
of parking for students this fall.-I
Permits for the 1993-94 aca-:-
demic year will be issued on a
"first come, first serve" basis.
The sale will occur the second
week of September, 1993. Asn

[seemed to be the only one :1
in the license renewal line
who wasn't getting hostile.
The guy behind me
as cussing his cowboy
yoots when I realized
ty Birkenstocks were
beautiful.
It must be the way they
cradle.your feet because .
really didn't mind waiting for
my new driver's license.
even smiled for the photo."
Milano-
Orderr
Stop by
Monda)

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