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October 04, 1993 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-04

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Fifty years and still
.kickin'up its heels
Rodgers' and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" celebrates it's golden anniver-
sary this year, and it seems that almost every regional and community theater
in America is rushing to mount a production. A few months ago, the Birming-
bam Theater produced a successful production and this weekend the Ann
Arbor Civic Theater hopes that their production will be just as successful.
"Oklahoma's" plot is very similar to most other musicals created in the
1940's. A rivalry between local farmers and cowboys creates friction between
two lovers because one is (you guessed it) a farmer while the other is acowboy.
Why is everyone celebrating 50 years of "Oklahoma!" ifithas been redone
over and over with different settings and characters ("West Side Story" and
"The Fantasticks")? On March 31, 1943, the opening night performance of
"Oklahoma!" marked a new era for the musical theater. "Oklahoma!" was the
first musical in which all the dialogue was sung-through, and the music and
dance actually advanced the plot and developed the characters. "Oklahoma!"
also held the prestigious title of longest running musical in Broadway history
from 1946 to 1961.
Conrad Mason, the director of Civic Theater's production, says the show
is "a classic, and you don't change a classic." For that reason, the show will be
Onuch like the original production. Mason boasts, "all the songs and all the
dances (including the twelve minute ballet) have been included in the show -
nothing is cut because that is what the audience wants to see." Mason thinks
the show is important to the history of musical theater because, "everything in
the show, the script, music and dance are integrated beautifully."
Most theater patrons and critics agree that "Oklahoma!" is a masterpiece,
but Mason comments, "the younger generation really doesn't appreciate
musicals like 'Oklahoma!' because that is how they know the musical theater
it wasn't like that before, musicals were more like revues."
In the past few years on Broadway there haven't been many new American
usicals that were prosperous. Mason states, "the problem with Broadway
usicals these days is that there aren't any hummable songs. The shows are
more like operas, that is why Broadway has been suffering. Look at how
popular revivals have been over the past few years."
"Oklahoma!" has definitely been amajorcontributortotheevolution of the
musical theater. Without it, the musical could have died out in the 1940's and
we never would have witnessed the birth of the mega-musical and talented
composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber. Fans of the musical theater should
happily embrace "Oklahoma!" on it's 50th birthday, and the best way to
celebrate it is to relive it again.
UKL AHMA! will be per ormea at the Lydia Mende ssoin Iheater on
)ctober 6th thru the 9th at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on the 9th. Tickets
are $15-$19 with discounts available for students. Call 763-1085 for more
information and tickets.


Robert DeNiro, actor extraordinaire, is now trying his hand at directing with his latest release

DeNiro takes to the dire ctor's chair

Return of the Boom Bap
This is live, this is new, this is
S-One. DJ Premier (GangStarr),
Kid Capri (top-notch DJ) and Show-
biz (from Showbiz and A.G.) serve
up a new and slower but consistently
bumpin' musical direction for KRS
and it fits him like Spandex -this is
straight up tight. There is no over-
production, over-sampling or noise
- in fact most of the tracks have one
pan sample, one beat, abass line and
uts. It really is the "Return of the
Boom Bap."
Of course there are powerful mes-
sages, but the gist on this album is
simply flaunting the lyrical styles that
only KRS can display. Ironically, as
rap is saturated with rappers who try
to come off as "real" by speaking on
their violent practices, KRS (argu-
ably the originator of that style with
9oogie Down Production's "Crimi-
nalMinded") has come outon his first
solo album without pretense and vio-
lence or fake, wanna-be-hard raps.
He reminisces over his career, the
days when rap was real and the group
home and drops much flavor on his
bread and butter issues of religion,
politics and police. The best on the
program? It's debatable, because it's
qIl in there but ... the first track, a
classical DJ song courtesy of Premier
(he rips the track to shreds); "Outta
Here" is next-- straight-up hard, old
flava, but no yellin' - just the pure
and crisp from Chris; a couple down,
in the same vain is "Mortal Thoughts"
- rhymes like "You're full of more
junk than a sausage/ let me show you
where the real hip-hop artist is" and
incredible production and flow give it
erious kick.
Finally, the title track is self-pro-
duced and is one of the most creative,
slamminest tracks to ever grace KRS'
set. It's jumpy, ruff and simple. It
could have been produced for almost
nothing, proving thatminimalism can
knock all the crap that weak suckers
with thousands of dollars of equip-
ment produce! Overall? Some things
eever change. Buy the CD, poster,

video and maxi-singles. Then go to
the concert.
-Dustin Howes
Breaking Things
Cruz Records
Formed from the ashes of Califor-
nia punk band The Descendents, All
have been weaving their intricate
melodies since 1988. They've released
seven full-length albums and have
constantly toured throughout the
world. They are truly one of the hard-
est working bands in music.
All's effort has paid off with their
latest release "Breaking Things." As
the name implies, the album explores
the consequences of broken relation-
ships, broken promises, broken bod-
ies and broken laws. But instead of
sulking aboutlifeinaconfusing world,
All delivers a sense of hope through
their quirkypop sensibilities and ques-
tioning, sometimes humorous, lyrics.
The first track, "Original Me," is
the strongest song on the album. The
guitars assault the senses while the
lyrics examine the attempt to find an
original identity in a society where
similarity is more often accepted. All
also has a less profound and more
playful side. "Strip Bar" conveys a
complete story in nine seconds: "I
went to the strip bar/ tried to grab her
by the world/butabig guybeatmeup
/ and threw me out the backdoor / of
the strip bar." This is simple, to the
point and enjoyable to listen to. "Hori-
zontal" dives into the problem of bro-
ken beds with the classic line "Let's
shake and sweat / break the bed /
ready on your mark get set 1 It's a
horizontal party it's a party for two
In these days of monstrous rock
operas like Guns'N Roses' "Novem-
ber Rain,"it's cool to see a band still
making short, direct pop songs. All's
brand of pop-punk conveys more feel-
ing in under three minutes than Axl
and crew can in nine. While Axl's
busy whining about needing some-
body, All will continue to deliver
insightful and intelligent music.
-Matt Carlson

Producer: So tell me Bob, why aren't you
doing this film with Marty?
DeNiro: Well, for one thing, Marty is busy
doing that turn-of-the-century, New York period
A Bronx Tale
Directed by Robert DeNiro; screenplay by Chazz
Palminteri; starring Robert DeNiro and Chazz
piece. Besides, I want to get behind the camera.
Producer: So tell me about the story?
DeNiro: Well it's an Italian spin on Happy
Days. Think of "A Bronx Tale" as Star Wars
without deep space cooked in olive oil.
Producer: What? Come on Bob, you're mak-
ing me nervous with this weird shit. Look at
Marty. Look how successful he's been with his
violent Italian films. The public wants Capone,
not Fellini.
DeNiro: Relax Pete. The story is good. It's an
exploration of good and evil in the mind of a
young, Sicilian-American boy named Calogero
growing up in the fifties. He's got two role mod-

els. His father, played by me, who wears a uni-
form, drives a bus and lives a life of virtue. And
there's Sonny played by Chazz Palminteri. He's
the neighborhood's number one Machiavelli-re-
citing wiseguy. The whole story is largely bio-
graphical based on Chazz's life. And don't worry,
it packs enough punch. We've got guns and burn-
ing cars.
Producer: Tell me 'bout some of the charac-
DeNiro: We've got some real gems, Pete, in
the cast of guys that hang around Sonny's bar.
There's JoJo the Whale, Frankie Coffeecake and
Tony Toupe, whose face looks like a piece of veal
that got smacked with the cleaver too much, to
name a few.
Producer: I didn't get a chance to read Chazz's
screenplay. It's a gangster flick, right?
DeNiro: No actually it's more of a love story.
Calogero meets this beautiful Black girl played by
newcomer Taral Hicks. He's caught between pas-
sion and loyalty to his brethren who don't like the
Blacks encroaching on their Bronx neighborhood.
Producer: What about the actual technical as-
pects? You've been talking to Marty - you know
what you're doing, right?
DeNiro: Hell, yeah I know what I'm doing.

Pete - I'm tellin' ya -"A Bronx Tale" ain't no
pantomime Marty production. The camera work,
the editing ... it's more smooth, perhaps more
nostalgic than Marty's stuff.
Producer: Nostalgia. Good. "The Big Chill."
DeNiro: Pete, did the characters play with
Molotov Cocktails in "The Big Chill"?
Producer: No, I see, you're keeping it honest.
DeNiro: Yeah. It's brutal. Andthat'sprecisely
what little Calogero learns. About life's brutality.
Marty talks a lot about graying the lines between
good and evil. He says our armpit-olive oil culture
in it's existence acknowledges the arbitrary na-
ture -
Producer: Bob, you're getting a little heavy
here. This isn't that film theory shit, is it?
DeNiro: Pete, like I said, relax. I'm starring in
this picture and the characters say fuck a lot. It'll
do well.
Producer: And the critics ... Are you afraid
you're going to catch some heat from them with
your first time at bat?
DeNiro: Nah, with the crew I got around me,
not a chance. Besides, you know what a hard-on
they got for me.
BRONX IALE is playing at Showcase.

Authors join together to help homeless

For the fortunate, Fall can be a
cozy season of hot tea, warm blan-
kets, pumpkin pie and blazing fire-
places. But for others, autumn is the
unwelcome herald of winter, a season
many homeless people fear they may
not survive. Tomorrow, you can do
something to help.
The second annual "Writers Har-
vest: The National Reading" will take
place at over 200 college campuses
andbookstores nationwide. Hundreds
of authors will participate in a series
of simultaneous readings to help end
hunger. The cause has enlisted such
high-profile authors as Maya Angelou,
Mary Higgins Clark, Gwendolyn
Brooks and William Styron, among
many others.
At Michigan, fourUniversity pro-
fessors, Charles Baxter, Nicholas
Delbanco, Thylias Moss and J. Allyn
Rosser will read at Rackham to fight
Ann Arbor's homeless crisis. This is
the only reading these professor will
be giving this year.
"Writers can and should imagine
the plight of the homeless. We're all
in this problem together," said
Charles Baxter, a veteran of last
year'sreading,is very optimistic about
tomorrow night. "Last year the
amphitheatre was filled," said Baxter.

project on behalf of SOS.
In other cities, the Writers Harvest
takes different forms. Professors at
Old Dominon read to the accompani-
ment of jazz. Writers in Philadelphia
combine their literary event with a
cooking demonstration by the city's
top chefs. At Southwest Missouri
State, professors perform plays writ-
ten by homeless people.
The Ann Arbor Writers Harvest
reading is sponsored locally by
Border's BookStoreandthe Hopwood
Room. Fifty percent of the money
raised will be distributed to local
groups; the remaining proceeds will
be dividedamong three national grant

recipients: The Food Research and
Action CenterFirst Book, achildren's
literacy program; and Society of St.
Andrew's Potato Project, which dis-
tributes surplus produce.
Delbanco, director of the
University's MFA program, cites last
year's success at raising more than
$1,200 as a good reason for doing it
again. "It worked so well that it's
become a bit of a tradition," he said.
The reading showcases members
of the local literary community.
Thylias Moss and J. Allyn Rosser,
new members of the English Depart-
ment, are award-winning poets, and
Charles Baxter's most recent novel,

"Shadow Play," won substantial criti-
cal acclaim and a wide audience.
"Literary professionals have be-
come activists in their communities,
and they add a powerful collective
voice to the growing fight against
hunger," said Bill Shore, founder and
executive director of SOS. "They
recognize the need for all segments of
society to join together to fight hun-
ger, one of the country's most urgent
The Writers Harvest will be held on
Tuesday, Oct. 5th at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at Borders
and at the door. Suggested
donation: $5.


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