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April 15, 1994 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-04-15

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'Fella' finally becomes classic

By JASON CARROLL AND
MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO
Unlike Frank Loesser's classic
"Guys and Dolls," "The Most Happy
The Most Happy Fella
Power Center
April 14, 1994
Fella" is not a tight, comic master-
piece; "Fella" is that and more. In
addition to its stellar score, it remains
one of the first all-sung musicals (first
produced in 1956) and it contains
many controversial themes. In this
production, playing through Sunday
at the Power Center, the Musical The-
atre Department recognizes "Fella"'s
potential, and makes a veritable clas-
sic out of it.
Tony Esposito (Joshua Funk), a
'vinter, spots pretty young "Rosabella"
(Erin Dilly) in a San Francisco diner,
where she waits on him. Too nervous
to approach her, he leaves his tie pin
,and a note, written in his broken En-
glish. Enchanted by his "mush note,"
Rosabella begins to correspond with
him through the mail. When she re-
quests a icture of Tony, he is ashamed

of his age and his appearance, and
instead sends a photo of Joe (Steve
Goebel), his young, handsome fore-
man. When Rosabella arrives for her
wedding, she believes Joe to be Tony.
When she discovers the truth, she
is horrified, but marries Tony out of
pity. In her vulnerable condition,
Rosabella runs to Joe for comfort.
Later, she falls in love with Tony, and
realizes his good qualities. Unfortu-
nately, she discovers she is pregnant.
You can imagine how Tony ultimately
reacts, being the "most happy fella in
the whole Napa Valley."
Solid performances carry the plot
through its many twists and turns.
Erin Dilly, fresh from the title role in
"Major Barbara," proves her versatil-
ity as Rosabella. She brims with vigor
and charm in her musical numbers
("Somebody, Somewhere" and
"Happy to Make Your Acquain-
tance"), and makes believable
Rosabella's change of heart.
Joshua Funk portrays the elderly
Tony so well that one can almost
overlook his lack of age makeup. (He
looks about 25, with prematurely gray
hair, but throws in facial exercises to
compensate.) He carries off the songs
remarkably well - especially his
duets with Dilly - and should be

commended for his complete emo-
tional involvement in the role. And
his Italian isn't too bad either.
Kate Guyton does well as
Rosabella's friend Cleo. Her south-
ern drawl adds to the comic aspect of
the role. Steve Goebel is a fine Joe,
though for propriety's sake he should
avoid the hand-on-the-belt-buckle
pose (which doesn't always look like
a hand on a belt buckle).
John Halmi, Adam Hunter and
Marc Kessler stole scenes and
charmed audiences as Pasquale,
Ciccio and Giuseppe, the charismatic
Italian trio.
Nephelie Andonyadis' sets were
minimalist (i.e. exposed stage lights,
signs replacing whole buildings) yet
appropriate. With a 43-member cast
- which is at times on stage in its
entirety - elaborate scenery would
only have hindered their interactions.
Realistic lighting complemented and
balanced the surrealist set.
Geoff Kort designed some beau-
tiful panoramic sunsets, though his
party lights were a bit distracting in
their intensity.
Debra Draper's choreography
proved that her "Brigadoon" work
was not a fluke. She captured the
Frank Loesser trademark (big arms

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Kate Guyton and Erin Dilly are fabulous in "The Most Happy Fella," playing at the Power Center through Sunday.

waving in the air), and the dancers
(especially the men) handled it equally
well. The ballet sequence ("Young
People") was especially impressive.
Just as Rosabella learns to look

beyond Tony's surface, so will the
audience learn to look beneath the
surface of this insipid and syrupy mu-
sical and see the true heart behind it.
THE MOST HAPPY FELLA plays

through Sunday at the Power
Center; tonight and Sat. at 8 p.m.,
Sun. at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14 -$6
at the League Ticket Office. Call
764-0450.

.ter.....,.. ... .. ... .., .. .. .. _i a.:...v .......:..,... ...

I I

, Brian Dewan makes his own instrument, success

. ..r.

By TOM ERLEWINE
Brian Dewan has been called many
things but then again he is a man of
many talents. He designed the album
covers of They Might BeGiants' "Lin-
coln" and David Byrne's "Uh-Oh"
and has been a well-known furniture
craftsman in New York for a number
of years. Now, he is gaining some
deserved attention as a musician with
his debut album, "Tells the Story."
"Tells the Story" is not an easy
record to classify, let alone describe.
Dewan performs the album on an
electric zither he built himself, along
with a couple of organs. The resulting
sound is distinctly otherworldly -
the swirling, distorted zither truly
sounds like nothing else. Dewan

crafted the electric zither after pur-
chasing an old, battered zither.
"I started making songs for that,"
he recalled, "and playing out with it
with a little contact mike on it and
putting it into a fuzzbox . But the bass
didn't come out of it so good and it
would feedback at really low vol-
umes with the fuzzbox. Later I got
this solid body electric one which is
based on the old one I played that is
about a hundred years old, all cracked
up and filthy. It ended up being a good
instrument for accompanying sing-
ing because it has a full range - it has
about a five octave range. And then I
started playing it through a Leslie
cabinet, rotating speakers."
When the distortion is cranked,

the zither sounds more lethal than the
heaviest guitar. "It's fun to play," he
admitted. "I really like what happens
to the sound through the frying be-
cause it's a really tactile kind of sound
and when you dampen or scrape the
strings you get all these crazy har-
monics. It's a, thick, powerful sound."
A few songs, like the demented
blues-stomp "99 Cops," prominently
feature the distorted zither, but most
of the album was recorded without
the fuzzbox and the results are no less
striking. Dewan's songs are not pop
songs in any sense; they are struc-
tured like traditional folk songs from
all sorts of countries. Not coinciden-
tally, he finds and collects forgotten
traditional songs from a variety of

sources. Dewan frequently performs
them in concerts and the audiences
often mistake them for original num-
bers. Dewan plans to have an album
of traditional songs out by the end of
the year and if "Tells the Story" is any
indication, it will be a must-hear.
"Tells the Story" sounds like no
other record released recently. Dewan
is an urban-folk artist in a traditional
sense and his stories are alternately
funny and disturbing. A record this
singular would be impressive from
any artist; coming from a debut artist,
it is all the more impressive.

Brian Dewan is a man of many talents, and his latest album proves it.

BRIAN DEWAN will open for his
good friends They Might Be Giants
at Hill Auditorium this Saturday at
8p.m. Tickets are $15.50 & $18.50.

DI! Air atr
- -
20 O FF

Comedy Company waddles into 'Duck' this weekend

By NICOLE BAKER
Want something a little different
this weekend? Try "Duck," Comedy
Company's spring show
In a break from the recent trends in
UAC's Comedy Company previous
"big shows," this spring's big show
tries to take away the offensiveness
and bring their humor back to the
audience, rather than the cutting edge.
As usual the show will be a collec-
tion of different comedy sketches,
written by students, but this time they

are going about it differently. If noth-
ing else it should be interesting to see
just what is so different.
Taking the 60 some odd sketches
that the staff produced, the head writ-
ers, director and producers narrowed
it down to the 15 sketches that are in
the show.
Besides the traditional sketches,
this term's big show will involve the
use of high technology as they incor-
porate video clips into their format.
The video clips will be parodies on
commercials and movie trailers.
Dave Dayen, director and previ-
ous head writer, said that "comedy is

about intelligence, learning and mak-
ing a connection with the audience."
Continuing, he stated that the "au-
dience should get a sense of eaves-
dropping on the scene." "(We wanted
to) make the show as naturalistic and
realistic as possible, in terms of both
the characters and the settings, so that
the audience focuses on the comedy
going on on stage."
The set itself will be white and
black, allowing it to be utilitarian.
Co-head Writer Eli Neilburger
stated that each of the writers on the
staff "have their own style, and if you
look closely enough you should be

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able to discern the different styles."
"About the only things the sketches
have in common is that they are
funny," stated Dayen. "They are dis-
tinctly diverse with a broad appeal,
because they come from a writing
staff not one mind. What they are
striving for is originality."
He continued, saying that when
writing he tried to write "comedy
above the head of the goyim."
Jay Rhee, another co-head writer,
stated that his style of comedy was
"about real life situations, pointing
out the absurd things."
In order to make the show more
accessible to the audience, they "went
out into the street, and did sort of
Letterman, man on the street inter-
views - to add a Michigan flavor,"
stated Dayen.
In another break from tradition,
they decided not to go with the usual
incorporation of "big show" in the
show's title, so they named it "Duck,"
and if you want to know what that
means you have to go see the show.
Comedy Company isn't letting any-
one outside the company know, not
even reporters.
All Dayen would say is that "Duck
is a noun and a verb, and it is also a
warning. When you see it coming
DUCK."
The question is will "Duck" be all
its quacked up to be.
COMEDY COMPANY'S "DUCK"
plays tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m.
at Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre.
Tickets are $5. For more
information call 763-1107.

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9

Tony and Rosabella got married.
Then they fell in love.

When you sell your textbooks to Ulrich's Bookstore
between April 18th and May 1 st you'll receive cash
AND a coupon good for 1 FREE Subway 6-inch
sandwich* compliments of Ulrich's Bookstore.

}; 4u dy;., -"::i""." .;{{::

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