Gilbert and Sullivan
Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, was found dead in his home in Seattle Friday. Cobain is survived by his wife and two-year-old daughter.
Nirvana fanslose idol and friend
with a flourish
By MARNI RAITT
My earliest exposure to Gilbert and Sullivan came when I was growing up.
My father and brother used to blast the music of the "HMS Pinafore," "Pirates
of Penzance" and "The Mikado" from the record player and walk around the
house singing back and forth at full volume. Needless to say, I soon grew very
familiar with the pair's (Gilbert and Sullivan, not my father and brother)@
musical genius, but until this week-
end, I had yet to see one of their
operettas performed. The University
The Mikado of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan
aMendelssohn Theatre Society's (UMGASS) production of
Lydia M"The Mikado" was a fantastic intro-
April 6, 1994 duction to the magic of Gilbert and
"The Mikado," Gilbert and Sullivan's eighth operetta, is set in 19th century
Japan. But as director Eric Gibson said in his program notes, "Gilbert's idea,.
though foreign in nature, could not have been more British at heart than any
of his other zany ideas."
"The Mikado" is a classic love story with some not-so-classic twists and
turns. Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado, the Emperor of Japan, disguises
himself as a commoner and runs off to join a band in the town of Titibu to avoid
marrying the monstrous, horrific Kitashi. While there, he falls madly in love
with the beautiful, intensely vain Yum-Yum. This poses quite a problem since
Yum-Yum is already engaged to Ko-Ko, the newly appointed Lord High
Executioner of Titibu.
In the meantime, Ko-Ko is reprimanded by the Mikado since no beheadings
have occurred in Titibu for quite some time. Not knowing Nanki-Po's@
relationship to the Mikado, Ko-Ko and Nanki-Poo strike up an interesting
bargain: Ko-Ko will allow Nanki-Poo to marry Yum-Yum for one month after
which Nanki-Poo must surrender himself to be beheaded. So Nanki-Poo must
AP PHOTO discover a way to keep his love and, well, keep his head.
"The Mikado" is filled with fun, unforgettable yet two-dimensional
characters. Everyone is completely out for him or herself, making for some
interesting plot twists. Nanki-Poo, played by Alexander Brown, was the
typical leading man - suave, handsome, conniving and popular with all the
igst-rid- townspeople. His counterpart and love interest, Yum-Yum (Kate Fitzpatrick),
agers to was equally beautiful and very vain.
en high Ko-Ko (John Alexander), was the opposite of Nanki-Poo. He was not too
bright, exhibited no social graces, and was weak willed; for example, he is too
s music grossed out to perform a beheading when he is finally given the opportunity.
y listens As a result, his character was at the same time pathetic and hilarious.
icularly The real scene stealer was Pooh-Bah played by Peter-John Hedlesky.
ear that Pooh-Bah was the phenomenally cocky and self-proclaimed town everything:
obain's Ko-Ko's solicitor, Titibu's chancellor, first Lord of Treasury, Pay Master
le but he General,Arch Bishop, ChiefArchitectof the UGLI renovation, and Duderstadt's
id songs conscience, to name just a few. Since he changed his persona with each
k sound identity, his scenes played out like a multiple personality disorder gone
hat was Katisha, the evil beast whom Nanki-Poo is supposed to marry, was
centless delightfully disgusting. As she says herself, "I am an acquired taste. It takes an
d to new educated pallet ..." By the end of the performance, it is difficult to decide
:h could whether to hate her or feel sorry for her.
The music, as is typical of Gilbert and Sullivan's brand of comedic opera,
hs in the was bouncy and lighthearted, laden with quick staccato beats and witty lyrics.
gs more The orchestra played with enthusiasm, and the actors matched the orchestra's
, not an zest with a chorus of strong, finely-tuned voices and silly but fitting choreog-
e could raphy.
e. The costumes were beautiful and authentic looking. The kimonos were@
g died in rich, colorful and delicately adorned with traditional looking Japanese em-
or that broidery. The set was handsomely constructed of eight painted screens slightly
possible separated to form the picture of a Japanese landscape.
n didn't The show's lighting, although at times non-existent and unchanging, was
iusands, used very effectively during certain scenes, especially as a sign that stormy
:omfort, weather lay ahead for the show's characters (when the Mikado arrived in
ple that Titibu, for example).
ave lost Packed with funny moments, beautiful music and memorable characters,
ave lost UMGASS's production of "The Mikado" was a phenomenal evening of
feeling. theatrical entertainment.. It is amazing that an operetta which is over 100 years
old can still have so much relevance and popularity today. Now in its 47th year,
UMGASS continues to successfully bring the magic of Gilbert and Sullivan,
one of the greatest musical teams in history, to Ann Arbor. May their tradition
continue for a long time.
By TOM ERLEWINE
Rumors had been flying all last week, but
when word came that Kurt Cobain had killed
himself Friday morning, it was still shocking. Last
month, he when entered a drug and alcohol-in-
duced coma while on vacation in Rome, it was
easy to dismiss it as an accident; now it looks like
it might have been an attempted suicide.
According to what his wife, Courtney Love,
told MTV News Saturday, Cobain had started
taking large amounts of drugs (including heroin)
eight or nine days after they returned from Italy.
Love said he had been frustrated with Nirvana,
saying that he "hated" playing with them and all
he wanted to do was play with Michael Stipe. She
knew that he had gotten a shotgun recently but she
denied that she had left him. According to his
mother, Cobain had been missing for six days; she
was afraid that he was suicidal.
Rumors of this sort have been commonplace
for Nirvana. Ever since the band catapulted to
stardom in late 1991 with "Nevermind," they have
been the center of intense scrutiny in the media, as
well as the subject of countless arguments among
fans. After the success of the album, stories of
how the band was breaking up or that Cobain was
dead ran rampant. Judging from the difficulty
Nirvana had in accepting their success, the stories
When these stories were being repeated last
month, it didn't seem likely that they were true.
Cobain was looking healthy, he said he was happy
and the band had released "In Utero," a critically-
acclaimed and commercially successful album
that didn't make any artistic concessions. Al-
though he hinted in a recent Rolling Stone inter-
view that the band might break up in the near
future, he seemed to be full of creative ideas. In
short, he seemed to have survived success.
Perhaps it was the stress of hearing his songs
every night, but something apparently went wrong
during their tour. Judging from Love's comments,
Cobain was not only unhappy with Nirvana, but it
seemed that he was questioning his own artistic
capabilities; in his suicide note, he wrote that it
was "no fun anymore."
On Friday morning, he went to his old home in
Seattle, wrote Love a note, took some drugs and
put a 12-gauge shotgun in his mouth. The body
could only be identified by his fingerprints.
Now, the obituaries are running and the trib-
utes are being made. Frequently, he is being called
the leader of "grunge rock" or "Generation X's
John Lennon." Both statements are somewhat
accurate, but they are simplistic and misleading.
Cobain was something more than that. Nir-
vana changed the face of music more than any
other artist since the Sex Pistols; they proved that
an uncommercial music could have a widespread
appeal, which is something the Pistols could never
do. While Cobain's music had the fury of punk, it
also had the melodicism of pop, the noisy volume
of metal, an experimental abandon and the haunt-
ing sparseness of folk ballads.
Nirvana looked like the white trash and burn-
outs from your own hometown, but they pos-
sessed a wit and intelligence far greater than the
average small-town guy. Because of their diverse
roots, they appealed to everyone from an
den college students and alienated teen
bone-headed heavy metal fans and drunk
Some critics claimed that Nirvana'
sounded the same. Anyone who carefully
to any of their four albums - part
"Nevermind" and "In Utero" - can h
those criticisms are unfounded. C
songwriting may have had a signature styl
was able to wring all kinds of emotions an
out of it. Nirvana had taken their trademar
to glorious heights, but "In Utero" also
that they could achieve something else t
equally brilliant. "Serve the Servants," "S
Apprentice" and "All Apologies" pointed
directions for Cobain's songwriting whic
have proved rewarding.
There have been many untimely death
history of rock 'n' roll, but Cobain's stinE
than most. It was a conscious decision,
accident. We all may speculate what h
have done, but he didn't want to continu
It may hard to accept that Otis Redding
a plane crash or Hendrix died of drugs
Lennon was murdered, but it is almost imp
to come to grips with the fact that Cobai
believe he had anything left to say. For tho
if not millions, of people his music was a c
a way of knowing that there are other peo
feel like you do. It's not that these fans h
an idol - they have lost a friend, they h
someone that understood what they werei
There's nothing sadder than that.
r5hAVE ANN A R 6OR 1 &
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public presentations of the remaining three candidates
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These sessions will provide an excellent opportunity
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