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December 13, 1994 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-12-13

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Paul Martinez is on in 'Miss Saigon'

By MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO
In his first real audition out of the
University, Paul Martinez had to swim
across a pool while singing his audi-
tion piece. "Well it takes place in the
water, so ...," he laughed.
He did get into that show ("The
Frogs," an obscure Stephen Sondheim
show), and seven years later he is
sitting pretty in the first national tour-
ing company of "Miss Saigon," play-
ing Detroit's Masonic Temple The-
atre through January 7. And fortu-
nately, he gets to stay out of water.
Martinez graduated from the Mu-
sical Theatre Program in 1987, and
began his career in Chicago. He was
lucky enough to get a job dancing at
King's Island right out of school, and
then tackled commercials in Chicago.
Martinez just jumped right into the
pool, if you will.
"Michigan really prepared me for
musical theater, but as far as rounding
myself out in agency work and com-
mercial work) I really had to work
that out on my own," he said. You

might spot him on Domino's Pizza or
Gatorade commercials.
Having done work for the camera
and for the stage, Martinez appreci-
ates both genres. "I like it all. I love to
sing and dance, but Irealize that danc-
ing is something I can only do for so
long," he said. "(Film and television)
is a different way of acting, much
smaller, much more truthful. You
can't lie on film, so it gets my curios-
ity."
But landing the first national com-
pany of "Miss Saigon" is quite a feat.
Martinez's involvement with the
show, however, traces all the way
back to the Broadway production.
"I was actually up for the original
Broadway company. They had re-
membered me from a 'Cats' audition,
so I kind of weaseled my way into a
callback right away because they had
me on file," Martinez said. Though he
did not get into that production, he
had friends who did, and who in turn
kept him abreast of openings in the
company.

"If someone dropped out I was
there for the auditions and would make
it down to the last cuts, between me
and one other person. So I knew it was
only a matter of time before I got in.
They knew who I was, we had already
established a rapport, and then when
the auditions for the national tour
came up, I was right on the top of the
list," Martinez said confidently.
Producers were searching all over
the nation for Asian-looking actors,
and spent a lot of time in Chicago.
Since the tour would open in Chi-
cago, that eliminated relocation fees.
Though Martinez feels like he's
been touring "forever" -they started
rehearsals in August of '92 and opened
that October - he still likes touring.
"It's great with this tour, because you
stay in cities for two to three months,
and you get to know those cities. You
actually get to settle in and the audi-
ences love the show," he said.
He feels "Saigon" is doing well,
despite much protesting in Minne-
apolis. "The audiences loved it, but

the radicals and the critics tended to
dog us because we were this 'money-
making machine,' so they called us.,"
he said. "They're really radical."
Now settled in Detroit, Martinez
gets to spend the holidays with his
family in St. Clair. "It's great. I'm one
of the lucky few," he said.
And he also recently had the op-
portunity to return to the University
to speak to Musical Theatre students,
which prompted more than a little
nostalgia. "Everyone had been telling
me that Ann Arbor had changed so
much, and when I went back there,
everything just flashed back. It was
all the same to me. Some of the stores
had changed-Borders! Ididn't think
it could get any bigger. It really
brought back a lot of memories," he
said.
Among his memories Martinez
named living on Washtenaw, thepond
at the School of Music and doing
shows at the Power Center. But what
he misses most is the Musical Theatre
program itself. "I was so focused into
what was going on because I had so
much to learn and they had so much to
teach. It's so enjoyable. Brent
(Wagner, the Department head) and
Jerry (DePuit, musical director) made
it so enjoyable," he said.
Though the program has changed,
Martinez's loyalty to it has not. "I
really wanted to be proud of where I
came from," he said. "I (think) it's
really important to spread the word
about Michigan and that it really is as
good as some of the more established
programs, if not better. I was nervous
about the program living up to my
expectations when I went back, and it
more than did.
"The students in the program now
are so much more advanced than we
were then, in the old days. Kids who
have already done national tours, who
have already done TV," he said
amazedly. "When we were there we
were hoping to graduate and go to
Pittsburg Civic Light Opera, and now
there's kids who are doing it over the
summer. It's amazing to me that they
are already that advanced. I think it
speaks a lot for the program."

Jf
aw

Paul Martinez, a '87 grad of the Musical Theatre Program, stars in "Saigon."

It's getting close to Martinez's
call time, as we notice crew members
bustling about, making preparations
for that evening's performance.
Martinez decided the men's ensemble
dressing room would not be the most
ideal place for our interview, so we're
huddled off into the wings. As he
looks forward to another evening, he
faces the continual challenge of keep-
ing it fresh.
"After over 800 performances ...
it's not hard to find new things to
think about or new things to do, but
just finding the motivation to do it
again and again and again," he said.
"Doing this show itself has not been a
major challenge, although at first I
was afraid that vocally it would be."
Since March Martinez has been
playing numerous Vietnamese roles
(he had previously played American
roles) He can be spotted as a soldier,
a "villager," or as a vendor, selling
"meat" in the big Bangkok number.
From Detroit, the company moves

on to Los Angeles, where they will
stay for 10 months. Martinez plans to
stick with the tour at least through
L.A. "I was afraid that my career was-
becoming a little stagnate doing one
show for so long, but I'm going to
take advantage of it," he said. He.
plans to take film and television
classes, to broaden his resume aca-,
demically, and "keep growing as a
person."
He offers this advice to aspiring
performers: "Everything is a learning
experience, and just find that. Don't
be afraid to tackle new goals and to set
new goals and to take stock of your
situation."
Even if it means swimming
through a show.
MISS SAON runs through
Januar' 7 at the Masonic Temple
Theatre in Detroit. Tickets range
from $16-$60. For specific days,
times and prices call (313) 832-
5900, or TicketMaster at (810) 645-
6666.

"Miss Saigon" has landed at the Masonic Temple Theatre in Detroit, where it stays through January 7, 1995.

r

Director woos audiences with his 'Hard Boiled' action

Tuesday
Ndi$ Amerian
$1.00 off pints ofDundee's
Honey Brown and
Sierra Nevada
Live entertainment
10 p.m.-12a.m. midnight

338 S. State
996-9191

By SCOTT PLAGENHOEF
There's nothing that says "Happy
Holidays" quite like John Woo. Or at
least that's what the Michigan The-
ater must believe, because their
present to you, the greater Ann Arbor
area, is an abbreviated John Woo film
festival.
Today and tomorrow, beginning
at 7:15, the Michigan will exhibit
Woo's influential 1986 work, "A
Better Tomorrow" and his quintes-
sential 1992 film, "Hard Boiled."
Although Woo is most well known
in this country for the Van Damme
slugfest "Hard Target," his only En-

glish language film to date, and shar-
ing a couplet with Rod Carew in a
Beastie Boys song, it is his Cantonese
action films which have elevated him
to cult figure status.
Woo's heroes and villains are of-
ten indecipherable. The bad don't
wear black hats and the good don't
ride in at sunset to save the damsel in
distress. They are one in the same.
Woo does not concern himself so
much with good and bad as he does
the dichotomy between loyalty and
betrayal.
The ultraviolence of the John Woo
film has influenced American film-

makers. The recent cinematic redis-
covery of the criminal and the violent
elements of our society was certainly
not an invention of Woo's. Yet the
John Woo mark can be seen left in bits
and pieces in such recent American
works as "Reservoir Dogs," "State of
Grace," and "Carlito's Way."
"Carlito's Way" specifically bor-
rows heavily from "A Better Tomor-
row" the first of the two Woo films
the Michigan is presenting. "Tomor-
row" features a former gangster, (por-
trayed by Chow Yun-Fat, a frequent
player in Woo's work) certainly past
his prime, who, after recently return-

ing to society from prison, must
choose between attempting to stay on
the straight and narrow or return to
crime for one final moment. The film
features an excellent early perfor-
mance by Leslie Heung of last year's
"Farewell My Concubine" as the
gangster's younger brother, a police-
man, who serves as the gangster's
proverbial voice of conscience.
The second of the Woo films is
perhaps his best known, "Hard
Boiled." This midnight movie and
brew 'n' view favorite concerns itself
much less with the business of right x
See WOO, Page 10

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PUBLICATION DATE
Thursday, January 5
Friday, January 6
Monday, January 9

DEADLINE
Tuesday, December 13
Tuesday, December 13
Tuesday, December 13

It

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The Office of Student Affairs is interested in receiving proposals to amend the
Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
All proposals will be considered by the Student Judicial Board on January 30,1995, at
a public hearing. In order for amendment proposals to be considered at this public
hearing they must be submitted by Friday, January 20,1995, to the Office of the
TuIrf i Aiior -60 1 5Fleminz Bildine. However, as soon as vronosals are re-

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