'Sound of Music' still sweet,
By MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO
The hills are alive with the sound
of ... Marie Osmond? Yes, Marie is
the latest in the trend of '70s pop stars
hitting the stage, and is headlining the
national tour of "The Sound of Music,"
playing Detroit's Fisher Theatre
The Sound of Music
March 10, 1994
through March 27. And much to
everyone's chagrin, the perky country-
pop star brings a little life to the old
Rodgers and Hammerstein musical,
making it bearable and even at times
It is a syrupy story, undoubtedly
Rodgers and Hammerstein's most
tearful musical. And it has more depth
than "Chokelahoma" and "South
Pathetic," the other old-fashioned
American-as-apple-pie musicals for
which the pair is famous. You know
the songs - "My Favorite Things,"
the title song, "Climb Every
Mountain," "DoReMi," "Edelweiss,"
- and you'll want to sing along (just
like the woman behind me did).
Maria Rainer (Osmond) is a
Postulant at the Nonnberg Abbey with
a penchant for song. And she's too
fond of climbing mountains. But the
Mother Abbess (Claudia Cummings)
looks on her fondly, and not wanting
her to rush into a life of poverty,
chastity and obedience, sends her to
be a governess for the von Trapp
family. Captain von Trapp (Laurence
Guittard) runs his house like amilitary
base, and Maria dubs it her challenge
to bring music into the lives and hearts
of the seven children. The Captain is
(conveniently) a widower, and Maria
unconsciously brings something else
into his heart.
Basing it on the real-life story of
the Trapp Family Singers, the love/
family motif is underscored and
threatened by the historical period.
The Nazis have invaded Austria, and
the von Trapps will not comply.
Eventually they are forced into exile.
Most people's most vivid
memories of "The Sound of Music"
are of the Academy Award-winning
film version (five of them, including
Picture), starring the effervescent Julie
Andrews. But it all began as a stage
musical, with the airy Mary Martin,
and won seven Tony Awards.
Osmond lacks the lightness of
Andrews and Martin, but endows the
role of the Austrian nun-turned-
governess with a certain earthy charm.
Her youthful face is picture-perfect:
vitality dances behind her dark eyes,
and when she smiles, sparks fly. She
does marvelously with the songs
considering her limited vocal range
- most notably "The Lonely
Goatherd" and "My Favorite Things
- but her approach needs some fine
tuning. She hits too many notes too
hard, especially when two notes are
more than a third apart; she needs to
ease into those jumps rather than
Her acting suggests training at the
Soap Opera Institute of Technology.
Osmond's Maria always appears to
be on the verge of some colossal
emotional breakdown. She has a
lovely speaking voice, and it is a
shame to hear it quiver with such
melodrama. This overacting only
works in one scene - when the
Mother Abbess orders a frightened
Maria to confront her feelings for the
Captain -and is obtrusive elsewhere.
But Osmond is at her best when
she is with the kids. And after all, the
little darlings are the focus of the
show. (Rodgers and Hammerstein are
renowned for their habit of creating
drama by bringing in hoards of
children.) Her Maria clicks with the
seven kids quite well,and her maternal
instincts come flooding out.
For what little he does actually
sing, Laurence Guittard sings the
Baron well; his "Edelweiss" was
particularly nice. But one must wonder
where his British accent came from
because: number one, no one else in
the show has an accent and number
two, he's Austrian.
The kids are as good as they can be
expected to be. Vanessa Dorman is a
lovely Liesl, and makes the most of
"Sixteen Going on Seventeen" with
an equally charming Rolf (Richard H.
Blake). And Lisbeth Zelle will steal
your heart as little Gretl.
Getting back to the grown-ups,
John Tillotson steals the show as the
kooky Max, the eternal uncle who
never hesitates to invite himself into
the von Trapp household, especially
for meals. Claudia Cummings does
thejob with "Climb Every Mountain,"
though her operatic training detracts
from the sheer drama of the song.
The sets are about par for a road
tour- better than your middle school
production but nowhere near as
spectacular as they could be. The
interior of the von Trapp household
was nicely done save the peach-mint-
gold color combination. And the show
could do without the painted
background. When the family braves
the mountains in the end, with the
nuns reprising "Climb Every
Mountain," it is supposed to be awe-
inspiring. But when you see that
they're climbing a painted backdrop,
it loses something.
The production is rather stiffly
directed by the lyricist's son, James
Hammerstein. He needs to give a little
bit more freedom to all the actors -
especially Osmond andGuittard, who
seem stifled by their characterizations
and therefore have little chemistry.
Once you get past the initial shock
of seeing Osmond's name on the
marquee (and that horrid picture of
her and her guitar on the front of the
playbill), the show will charm its way
into your heart. It's not a fabulous
show, or by any means a fabulous
production; it's just ... sweet.
Marie Osmond stars in "The Sound of Music." But don't let that scare you.
T1HE SOUND OF MUSIC plays- Boulevard, Detroit). Tickets range
through March 27 at the Fisher from $25 to $47.50. For specific
Theatre (301] West Grand days and times. call 872-1000.
'Naked' forces viewers to take closer look at life
By SARAH STEWART
Film is fantasy, to some directors.
But not to director, Mike Leigh.
"Naked," his newest film, is realism
Written and directed by Mike Leigh;
with David Thewlis, Katrin Cartlidge
and Lesley Sharp.
at its best, showing life at its worst. It
forces its viewers to look twice at
everything, including themselves. The
characters of "Naked" imply that
everybody has something to hide and
that even Johnny (David Thewlis),
the central character, might be
someone you know.
Johnny's from Manchester, and
the first thing he does when he gets to
London is look up Louise (Lesley
Sharp), a former girlfriend. He needs
a shave and a shower but fits in quite
well with the dark, witch-like
appearance of Sophie (Katrin
Cartlidge), Louise's roommate who
entertains him until Louise returns
from work. When Louise returns, she
asks why he's in London, is denied an
answer and spends the rest of the
evening alone in her room while
Johnny and Sophie get to know one
another with the help of Johnny's
fondness for sadism.
The next day, Sophie becomes too
much for Johnny to stand. In a
masterful scene, Leigh shows a
pathetically obsessed Sophie traipsing
close behind Johnny, back and forth
between two rooms; his frustration
seems justified, and he finally storms
out of the house. After these initial
introductions, the dynamics of the
film remain basically the same
throughout, as Johnny travels the
streets of London, imposing himself
on almost anyone he happens to meet.
At this point, any semblance of a
plot has been abandoned. But there's
obviously no room for plot in this
long spout of philosophical spewing,
sexual perversion and Johnny's bait
of comical niceness. In fact, that bait
is what keeps "Naked" fully-clothed.
In many scenes, the audience falls
into believing that this time won't be
as cruel as the last. Some of the most
probing dialogue comes from scenes
between Johnny and Brian, a future-
loving building security guard, but
then it all crumbles when Johnny and
the oft-admired woman in the building
across from Brian's provide a peep-
show for the unsuspecting guard.
Thewlis does a superb job
maintaining all aspects of Johnny
complex character and comes to
embody the nursery rhyme favorite,
"When she was good she was very,
very good, but when she was bad she
was horrid." Thewlis is just as good at
humorously reciting Johnny's beloved
trivial "facts" as he is at displaying
the cruel, perverted side of this
occasionally nice guy.
Nothing in "Naked" is pretty, as
Leigh exploits the extreme
unattractiveness of the characters with
close-ups and places them in equally
tormented settings. The sex is brutal
and wholly unromantic, and in the
context of a somewhat random subplot
involving Sophie and Jeremy (Greg
Cruttwell), their landlord, it is
disgusting; it is even more than Sophie
likes and provides a backwards reality
check for those who had forgotten, in
the course of the film, that not all
relationships thrive on violence.
Amidst the visual unpleasantries
is Johnny's preoccupation with the
end of the world but almost no clue to
what such deep thought has to do with
the scum-infested parade on screen.
It's up to the audience to figure things
out, and like it or not, "Naked"'s
truths are unavoidable.
NAKDi showing at the Ann
Arbor & 2.
We Make the Road by
Myles Horton and Paulo
Temple University Press
It's a long way from Recife, Brazil
to Brazil, Tennessee. Thepeople seem
far away from each other culturally,
spiritually and physically. And while
there is not road that connects the two
towns, two men have connected
themselves by constructing their own
thoroughfare to each other.
"We Made the Road by Walking"
is the story of two educators who
came together to "speak" a book.
Paulo Freire of Brazil and Myles
Horton of Tennessee draw strength
from their differences in character
and respect each other's radical ideas
on education. The book they speak in
turn speaks to its readers, delivering a
message of empowerment so potent
that it cannot be ignored.
The power of this book lies in its
technique. Horton and Freire, after
hearing of each other's ideas through
conferences on education and
readings, speak to each other with
such candor and respect that the reader
wants to hear more from both men. A
third party mediates their discussion
and directs questions toward both men
to give the book a focus. While the
ideas are deeply rooted in social
change and theory, the book is in no
way an academic treatise on how to
save the world. Instead, it is an
inspiring account of two men and
how they mobilized to aid their own
communities through empowerment.
Myles Horton was born the son of
a poor mountaineer in the foothills of
Tennessee. As a child, he read
voraciously until he no longer could
find books. "I was always getting in
trouble for reading in school," Horton
recalls, drawing on his own personal
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experience to critique the dogmatic
approach of education. Horton shows
that children are not taught to want to
learn to read, write and think critically.
Withoutproper stimulation, theyoung
students of today will be lost.
Myles Horton wanted to change
the destitute situation ofhis neighbors,
who lived in extreme poverty and
received little help from the federal
government. However, he did not want
to hand them anything. The
improvement of the community had
to come from the community itself,
Horton believed. In 1929, Horton
established the Highlander Folk
School in Monteagle, Tennessee to
educate community leaders on their
own problems and to help them find
their own solutions and methods of
The Highlander School became
the only place in the South where
Blacks and whites could sit together
and discuss their differences and
problems. Horton brought together
the leaders of the civil rights
movement, the labor union movement,
the anti-nuclear movement, and other
movements under one roof to discuss
community-based solutions and
collective grassroots action. All the
staff at Highlander took risks simply
in teaching, and the Highlander school
was padlocked for a time on charged
of exhibiting communist tendencies.
While Horton was working in the
South, Paulo Freire was mobilizing
the population of Brazil. Born to
middle class parents in Recife, Freire
was educated at a prestigious school
and lived better than his working-
class friends. Yet he still experienced
hunger, poverty and despair during
Freire eventually made a career
for himself as a renowned educator
and became a politician. In certain
circles, his politics had rendered him
persona non grata in Brazil. When
the government was ousted, however,
he was exiled from his home
indefinitely. Freire had to work on
changing the situation in Brazil
through his writing, from outside the
country and the community. His
theories on education were outlined
in several books, including the famous
"Pedagogy of the Oppressed," Like
Horton, he believes that change must
come from within the people's hearts
because they are the only ones who
understand their own suffering.
The conversations illustrate the
compassion and humility of both
educators better than an auto-
biography could, since it is the
interaction between the two that really
clarifies the ideas and communicates
the personalities. The book is inspiring
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