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April 01, 1994 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-04-01

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Is

'Heidi' fulfills its potential

By MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO
Despite the fact that it won a
Pulitzer prize, Wendy Wasserstein's
"The Heidi Chronicles" is a poorly-
written play. Not the dialogue, mind
you - Wasserstein's prose bubbles

The Heidi Chronicles
Trueblood Theatre
March 31, 1994
over with just the right combination
of sarcasm, wit and intuition to be
both humorous and heartfelt, emo-
tional and provocative. But the char-
acters are for the most part incom-
plete in their creation, and the scenes
(when put together) choppy in their
construction.
Thus the need for sterling perfor-
mances and facile direction. Fortu-
nately, the University Players, guided
by John Neville-Andrews, have just
that. With polished performances and
a few alterations by Neville-Andrews,
this production (at the Trueblood
through April 10) has given this play
a face lift, and delighted audiences in
the process.
The story revolves around Heidi

Holland (Stephanie Fybel), an art his-
torian who prefers the label "human-
ist" to the word "feminist." While
giving a lecture, Heidi's life flashes
back to various stages of her life. The
play progresses forward (through 24
years) until we see Heidi moved in to
her new apartment, sans furniture -
save for a crib, which holds the baby
she has adopted.
Each scene is smoothly written,
but the flashback structure makes for
a patchy final product. What Neville-
Andrews has done amounts to a much-
needed cut-and-paste job. He has set
the entire play in Heidi's apartment
- capitalizing on the concept of
moving being an emotional and nos-
talgic experience - bringing the
memories into the present, rather than
delving into the past as Wasserstein's
script dictates. The result is smooth
and clean, and allows the audience
the luxury of a complete emotional
experience.
Solid performances compensate
for the poorly-drawn characters.
Stephanie Fybel is both endearing
and convincing as Heidi. Heidi is
"stranded," as she calls herself in the
play - and Wasserstein has not pro-
vided for her a conceivable solution.

Fybel gives everything she has to the
role, trying desperately to fill the void
in Heidi's soul and in Heidi's charac-
ter. Fybel has matured considerably
throughout the years, and that is vis-
ible in her performance of Heidi.
Paul Molnar does well as Scoop,
and shows that underneath his obnox-
iousness, yes, he does have a heart
(and a deeply feeling one at that).
Danny Gurwin fits quite well the role
of Peter, the gay pediatrician. It would
be hard to fail with Peter, seeing that
his is the only well-drawn character,
but Gurwin capitalized on the dra-
matic potential of the role. His rage
over the illness plaguing his friends
comes across as genuine (though
throwing a doll against a wall is a bit
much), and his pain searing.
The supporting cast is quite strong.
Jennifer Davis is a fine Susan, but she
seems too eager to milk the comedy
inherent in the role. Heather Dilly as
Debbie, the feminist protester draped
in black and silver and clutching a
megaphone- is appropriately "pa-
ternal" and "caustic," and her "up and
positive" Denise proves that Dilly as
an actor is up and coming.
It seems that John Neville-
Andrews has finally found his place

is

Stephanie Fybel plays a feminist art historian in "The Heidi Chronicles," at the Trueblood Theatre through April 10. *

with this production. His two previ-
ous University shows - "Trelawny
of the 'Wells"' and "Butterfingers
Angel" - suffered from too much
space and too little guidance. How-
ever, he has come home to the
Trueblood with "Heidi."
Lighting is a welcome aid to
Neville-Andrews' memory structure,
and set pieces are handled relatively

well considering the confinements of
the Trueblood. Apart from two off-
stage crashes, a big delayed entrance
by Heidi and some line-blunders, the
evening ran smoothly.
As Heidi says at a few points in
the play, "I believe that all people
deserve to fulfill their potential." So
does "The Heidi Chronicles," and
thanks to the cast and Neville-

Andrews, it certainly has.
THE HEIDI CHRONICLES will 4
play tonight through April 10 at the.
Trueblood Theatre, Thursdays
through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and
Sundays at 2 p.m. All performances -
are sold out. Please note: A 7p.m. .
performance has been added on
Sunday April 10. Tickets are $10
($6 students). Call 764-0450. A

'Havoc' cries on behalf of women

Webern's fires still burning

By NICOLE BAKER
Remember Rosie the Riviter? Al-
though that was the predominant im-
age of women's involvement in World
War II, "Cry Havoc" portrays the
invovement of women on the front,
not the homefront.
Basement Arts presents "Cry
Havoc" this weekend in the Arena
Theatre. "Cry Havoc" is about a di-
verse and dynamic group of female
nurses during the battle of Bataan in
the Philippines, telling the story of
the war from a female perspective.
Together, they learn and grow as
they overcome the obstacles that they
encounter, which includes discover-
ing that one of them is a spy who has
been sending information to the Japa-
nese. The final obstacle they face is

capture by a Japanese troop.
DirectorTerry Snowday stated that
the play intrigued him from the be-
ginning because it "lends a unique
voice to war." "It illuminates the role
women play and have always played"
he said.
Snowday continued, "the fall of
the Bataan and the Philippines is also
a story that has not been told a lot. The
play is fairly accurate in following
what happened in the Philippines."
The occupation of the Philippines
by the Japanese, and the fall ofBataan
occurred in 1942, and was one of the
few military failures for the US. in
World War II. "Cry Havoc" was writ-
ten a year latter in 1943, and was
originally performed before the war
ended and the Philippines were taken

back. The timing of the play's origi-
nal production probably had an im-
pact on the politics surrounding
Bataan and the decision to retake the
Philippines.
Snowday claims that 50 years af-
ter the war, in a lot of ways things
haven't changed very much. "Some
of the issues touched on (during the
play), are the same as ones facing the
military today - issues like
homophobia, and sexual isolation."
He continued, "we focused on the
bunkbed, table and chairs, incorpo-
rating the room itself' for the set. The
walls, hidden behind the curtain are
part of the old high school, and were
used to create the bunkhouse.
Speaking on his first production at
the University, Snowday said, "It's
funny, but I'm not nervous, I have a
lot of confidence in the cast and tech-
nical staff. They have worked very
hard toward performance."
Hopefully "Cry Havoc" will en-
tertain as well as enlighten.
CRY HA VOC plays through April 2
at the Arena Theatre (1501 Frieze),
Fridays at 5 p.m. and Saturdays at
2p.m. Admission is free.
READ A R TS DAILY,

By TOM ERLEWINE
For various reasons, many com-
posers never receive their proper
credit, often getting shortchanged by
mainstream musicologists. Anton
Webern is one of these composers.
With this weekend's multimedia pro-
duction "Anton Webern - Further
Fires," longtime Ann Arbor resident
and local musical historian Arwulf
Arwulf is attempting to present
Webern's music in a logical forum so
listeners can appreciate his impor-
tance.
"He's one of the very first people
in the 20th Century to come up with
music that is totally unique," explained
Arwulf, "even though it was based in
earlier forms. You could follow the
tradition back through Arnold
Schoenberg and then back to Gustav
Mahler. You can stop at Wagner for a
second and then you get back to
Beethoven then back to Johann
Sebastian Bach.
"But it even goes back further
than that; it goes back to the 15th
Century church modes. We take the
progression back as far as we can and
we follow as close to the present as
close as we can through people like
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Anthony
Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell, mod-

ern jazz musicians. It's a continuum,
that's the whole point of this thing."
Webern's music has often been
criticized as being unapproachable,
but Arwulf believes that criticism is
'What we're here to do
is to promote all of this
music and literature
and also to acquaint
people with music
that's been passed by
because it's not the
same kind of a popular
formula that people are
accustomed to.'
-Arwulf Arwulf, on the
music of Anton Webern
unfair. "Further Fires" will be very
accessible for listeners who are unfa-
miliar with contemporary compos-
ers.
"I think most people would be
surprised after hearing about him,
actually hearing his music people
would be surprised at how cool it is,"
Arwulf explained.
"He wrote little musical haikus;
they're like little ice sculptures.
They're really beautiful and I've tried
to focus on that. I'm playing other
musical examples by people who are

brightly
really challenging but exciting and
fun; there's nothing in here that's
going to be unpleasant. What we're
here to do is to promote all of this
music and literature and also to ac-
quaint people with music that's been
passed by because it's not the same.
kind of a popular formula that people
are accustomed to."
Since Webern's body of work is
relatively small and he was accidently
killed at the end of World War II, he;
has been somewhat ignored by main-
stream listeners, even though they,
have unknowingly assimilated his
style into their various styles of mu-
sic. "The mainstream ironically draws
from this musical tradition," explained
Arwulf. "All of the sci-fi movies from
the 1950s - a lot of that stuff if you
just don't watch the movie, ifyoujust
have the soundtrack and listen to the,
music, they're using a lot of this kind.-
of music because it's strange-sound-
ing to Western ears. But it's really sad
because that's the way it's treated."
Fortunately, a production liken
"Further Fires" can help restore
Webern to his proper place in the
history of music.
ANTON WEBERN - FURTHER
FIRES will be presented at the
Performance Network tonight and
Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10
and $7 for students. After the
performance at 11 p.m. there will
be a free showing of several modemn
jazz videos, featuring Ornette
Coleman and Sun Ra.

University of Michigan
School of Music
Thursday-Sunday, March 31-April 3 and April 7-10
The Heidi Chronicles
by Wendy Wasserstein; Theatre & Drama Production
Tickets: $10, students $6 (764-0450)
Trueblood Theatre; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.
Friday, April 1
Creative Arts Orchestra
Ed Sarath, director
Eclectic improvised music featuring diverse instrumentation
Rackham Auditorium, 8 p.m., free
The Bear
Opera Workshop production of William Walton's one-act opera
Joshua Major, director; Mutsumi Moteki, music director
McIntosh Theatre, 5 p.m., free
An Evening of Opera Excerpts
The Opera Workshop presents selections from operas by Barber,
Berlioz, Bernstein, Floyd, Menotti, Mozart, Verdi, and others
McIntosh Theatre, 8 p.m., free
Tuesday, April 5
Early Music Ensemble
Edward Parmentier, director
Schutz's Musikalische Exequien; Byrd's Justorum Animae;
instrumental chamber works by Handel and Bach
Blanche Anderson Moore Hall, School of Music, 8 p.m., free
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
Ricardo Averbach, conductor; Lorna Haywood, Rosemary Russell,
Mark Beudert, and Leslie Guinn, soloists; Rackham Symphony
Chorus, Vanguard Voices, and Campus Symphony Orchestra
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m., free
Wednesday, April 6
Campus Orchestra Chamber Ensembles

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