12 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 13, 1994
'Six Degrees' of closeness at Hilberry
By MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO
The story of John Guare's "Six
Degrees of Separation" falls into the
category of "strange but true." It's
November 28, 1994
this strange tale more than you'd like.
The play opens in the East Side,
high-rise Manhattan apartment of
Flan and Ouisa Kittredge (Michael
Hankins and Lynnae Lehfeldt), two
private art dealers. (Flan and Ouisa
- have you ever heard two more
nouveaux-riche names?) They appear
violated, horrified and aghast, and
they proceed to tell us their story.
Flan and Ouisa are wooing a rich
friend/potential investor, and their
soiree is interrupted by a bleeding
stranger claiming to have been
mugged. The young Black man, Paul
(Kevin Kenerly), claims to know their
kids from Harvard, so they take him
in, clean him up and give him their
son's pink shirt. Within minutes the
four are enjoying a gourmet dinner
(which Paul has prepared), as Paul
sips brandy and tells them tales of his
father, Sidney Poitier. Coincidentally,
Dad is making a movie of "Cats" and
would they all like to be extras?
The rest of the play goes on to
show similar incidents and the after-
math of those incidents with other
couples, as Paul cons his way into
their homes and their hearts.
"Six Degrees of Separation" refers
tothetheory thatevery person is "bound
to every one on this planet by a trail of
six people," writes John Guare. That
theory is never illustrated in the play,
but since "every person is a new door,
opening to other worlds," Guare has
created wonderfully rich characters from
Flan and Ouisa down to the parade of
incidentals which traverses the stage.
As the strength of the script lies in
its creation of well-rounded charac-
ters, the strength of this production
lies in the rendering of those charac-
ters. Especially outstanding are
Bartholomew Philip Williams as
one of those things you discuss at a
cocktail party, gesturing broadly with
one hand and clutching a glass of
White Zinfandel with the other.
But when it is rendered in as fine a
production as the Hilberry Theatre's
(running in repertory through Febru-
ary 3), you can't help but be drawn into
Paul's mentor and Larry J. Campbell
as a gullible actor, both of whom get
screwed (literally) by Paul.
Kevin Kenerly gives an astound-
ing and courageous performance as
Paul, making him soft enough to be
You'll look at these
people and wonder
how they could have
been taken In. You'll
vow never to be so
gullible. But somehow
it will ring a little too
sympathetic but hard enough to be a
convincing con artist. Michael
Hankins is also quite strong as Flan.
The only faltering performance
comes from, surprisingly, Lynnae
Lehfeldt. Ouisa needs to reach out to
Paul while standing by Flan, and while
Lehfeldt projects those conflicting
emotions, her sincerity is a little un-
Neil Carpentier-Alting has designed
an unrestrained art-deco apartment, with
avery nice floating two-sided Kadinsky
painting. The partition/screen is a nice
touch; the silhouettes of Paul and the
hustler having sex is much more strik-
ing than the full view.
Missing is the in-your-face naked
hustler which stirred up the Broad-
way production. Here, when Ouisa
discovers Paul and the hustler, David
Orley bursts out in an abbreviated
black bikini, and that is just as effec-
tive (if not more so).
You'll look at these people and
wonder how they could have been
taken in. You'll vow never to be so
gullible. But somehow it will ring a
little too true. You'll find yourself
sucked in by Paul's art as well. You'll
be drawn in as much by his charm as
by the promise of appearing in the
movie of "Cats." And that is where
Guare is successful. He hits that weak-
ness in all of us, and you'll be sur-
prised at the results.
Ann Arbor's own Big Chief will blow the roof off St. Andrews on Saturday.
Big Chief comes home
By MARK CARLSON
Nail down the furniture, lock the
kids in their rooms and start pumping
iron - Big Chief is coming home.
That's right, Ann Arbor's favorite
rock gods are bringing their powerful
blend of funk, soul and hardcore back
to their old stomping grounds for the
final show on their current U.S. tour.
Along with tour mates the Goats and
Dandelion, Big Chief is set to rock St.
Andrew's Hall just in time for the
The Chief are definitely ready to
rock Detroit once again. "By the end
of a tour, we're, like, totally tight, and
can really rock through the stuff,"
said the Chief's main man and lead
vocalist Barry Henssler, commenting
on how they usually start tours off in
Detroit, when the band isn't at the top
of their form.
With what the band refers to as a
"really strong bill" of themselves, the
Goats, and Dandelion, Big Chief has
been touring nationwide in support of
their major-label debut album, "Plati-
num Jive." While "Jive" and their
previous album, "Mack Avenue Skull
Game" (released on the ultra-famous
Sub Pop record label), both incorpo-
rated a vast arsenal of funk, soul and
even hip-hop, with the patented Big
Chief power crunch, fans should ex-
pect a more stripped-down live show.
While the band is quick to use such
embellishments as horn sections and
backup singers in the studio, taking a
whole entourage out on the road can
get pretty ridiculous. Henssler ex-
plained, "The Goats take care of the
more straight-up hip-hop kinda vibe,
and we're just doin' our rock thing."
Translation: Secure all valuables and
stay close to the door. This probably
means that the band will be playing
quite a few of their older ditties from
their first two full length albums,
"Drive It Off' and "Face." As far as
the "Mack Avenue" material goes,
expect to hear some pretty different
Though considered by most of
See CHIEF, Page 17
SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION
runs in repertory through February
3 at the Hilberry Theatre in Detroit.
Tickets range from $9 to $16. For
specific dates and times, or ticket
information, call (313) 577-2972.
Lynnae Lehfeldt, Michael Hankins and Kevin Kenerly star in "Six Degrees of Separation" at the Hilberry Theatre.
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