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January 19, 1995 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-19

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, January 19, 1995 - 3

Better Nate Than Never

Few safe bets cash in during


Shoo S0is

* splled
s-ul-r-v- i-v-a-i
Every semester begins the same
"Hello, class. My name is (insert
>rofessor's name here). According to
hesyllabusin the coursepack that none
>f you bought, you were supposed to
iread chapters 1 and 2 for today.
rdchapters 3 and 4 for tomorrow
uid be prepared - there may be a pop
iuiz. ... Now let's go around the
*oom. Say your names and what you
Nant to get out of this class."
C'an you get out of this class might
e a better question. Unfortunately
he light at the end of the tunnel is 17
o 18 weeks away.
Looking on the bright side, how-
n* each semester offers a chance to
make a new start. .
As classes begin, I lunge at this
::hance. New books, new classes, new
notebooks, new binders, new pencils,
new boxer shorts. But I inevitably
stumble down the same path: I walk
into a class (such as Spanish), plan-
aing to keep up on' readings, quiz
nyseif on vocab, speak every day in
:J and be able to carry on a conver-
;a n with Juan Valdez by the end of
he semester. But instead of debating
:offee beans, I end up copying exer-
:ises from the back of the workbook
he day before they're due and sitting
hrough a "Destinos" video marathon
he night before the final exam.
Part of the problem is that my
~oals change. They begin with want-
nto learn about a subject - to
~~en my horizons, if you will.
[en they turn into report card sur-
Whenever the report card battle gets
00 intense, I think about the fourth-
~rade spelling bee.
It started out simple enough. Mrs.
4ontgomery lined us all up in the front
~f the class, we spelled words for an
'our, and then I was the only one left
*ing. Then, a week or so later,
ourth-graders from the whole school
vere lined up in the library, the princi-
'al gave us afew words, and then I was
ie only one left standing. A couple
veeks later, the district spelling bee
amne and I was relegated to first run-
er-up, but I still got to go to the St.
:lair County spelling bee.
During my ascent to fame, I hadn't
ive much thought to what my ulti-
~*goal was. Though each advance-
'om friends, they also brought tougher
>es and longer words. But none of
iem could have prepared me for the
ounty spelling bee.
After spending more time studying
'ords than can possibly be healthy, I
ressed up in nice clothes and was
arted off to a strange middle-school
torium. Isat in the middle of arow
foher strange fourth-graders and kept
iy eyes fixed on two huge micro-
hones at the front of the stage. Not
nly did we have to approach the mikes
announce our name and school to
ihat appeared to be millions of audi-
nce members, we also had to walk up
) the microphone to spell each word.
When it came my turn, Islowly and
1 yw walked up to the microphone
tia iven my first and only word.
What an easy word. It was a word

-om the first spelling list. Into the
iicrophone, I said: "Giraffe. G-I-R-R-
Upon being told that I had mis-
jelled the word, I shot an odd glance
~my family in the audience and darted
If the stage, only to be stopped by a
~~orker who insisted on giving me
dictionary with my name inside.
Standing at the microphone, Iheard
vo voices. The first said: "Spell 'gi-
ffe' and you can continue this terror,
hose prize is most likely more study-
W and another bee." The second said:

Critics have been predicting the
death of Broadway to come at any
moment now, and it's time once again
to take the pulse of Broadway and see
whether it has survived yet another
season. I'm happy to report that Broad-
way is still alive and kicking, and has in
fact had a bit of arevival in 1994 due to
safe bets and star power.
"Revival" seems to be the key word
on Broadway nowadays, as revamped
masterpieces from days gone by still
prove to be not only entertaining, but
more importantly, financially viable
contenders for the Broadway buck.
What "Guys and Dolls" and "Crazy for
You" began several years ago has turned
into an epidemic, and walking through
the theater district is like flipping
through the pages of a Musical Theater
History book.
Of all the revivals this year, director
Harold Prince's "Show Boat" comes
the most critically acclaimed. Travel-
ing down river from its home in Toronto,
"Show Boat" arrived in the Gershwin
Theatre on October 2, 1994. Complete
with an incredible cast, great dancing
and fast-paced staging, Prince has taken
a terrific show and brought it into the
'90s. With this opening came the high-
est top ticket price Broadway has ever
seen, and eager patrons are still shell-
ing out $75 a piece for the best seats in
the house.
Also reappearing on Broadway this
year was the pop culture icon "Grease."
The revolving door of the part of Rizzo
has been home to several icons in their
own right. Straight from her filming of
"The Flinstones," brassy actor/come-
dian Rosie O'Donnell tough-talked her
way through the part, only to leave and

be replaced with former American
sweetheart Maureen (Marcia Brady)
McCormick (sigh). How do you top
Marcia Brady?Producer Tommy Tune
went straight to the Blue Lagoon and
rescued the stagnant Brooke Shields.
Couldthis be themovethat putsShields
back on calendars and bedroom walls
across the country? We can only hope.
Opting for a more subtle and digni-
fied approach to the revival was Nicho-
las Hytner's production of Rodgers
and Hammerstein's extraordinary "Car-
ousel." Despite tremendous reviews,
good audience response and a Best
Revival Tony, "Carousel" closed last
Sunday, way before its time. A mo-
ment of silence, if you please.
Many other familiar shows graced
the Great White Way in 1994, includ-
ing: the uproarious baseball musical
"Damn Yankees," starring an incred-
ibly sexy Bebe Neuwirth as Lola; Ten-
nessee Williams' dramatic masterpiece
"The Glass Menagerie" (starring Julie
Harris); J.B. Priestley' smystery thriller
"An Inspector Calls," the other Tony
winner for Best Revival.
Despite how it looks, there were
some original shows that made it into
New York theaters. By far the most
scandalous journey taken was that of
Andrew Lloyd Webber's mah bally-
hooed "Sunset Boulevard." In the the-
ater world's own little Nancy/Tonya
story, "Sunset" was plagued with last-
minute casting changes and subsequent
law suits from some very well known
div'as. When "Sunset" opened in Lon-
don, Broadway veteran Patty LuPone
was cast in the lead role of Norma
After some less-than-favorable re-
views, Webber reworked the show and

opened it in Los Angeles with actor
extraordinaire Glenn Close. Surpris-
ing much of the theater community,
Webber decided that Close was better
for the role and, at the last minute,
welchedon LuPone's contract and hired
Close for the New York opening.
To add insult to injury, Webber
then offered LuPone the LA slot, to
which an indignant LuPone turned up
her nose and called for her lawyer.
After winning her suit for several mil-
lion dollars, an over-dramatic LuPone
claimed that the whole ordeal was too
much for her and she needed to rest a
The latest chapter again comes from
the Los Angeles set. In order to keep
the star power theme going, Webber
hired Faye Dun away to open in the LA
slot. Webber pulled the plug on the
project at the last minute claiming
Dunaway just didn't have the pipes for
it. Despite, or maybe because of, all of
this behind-the-scenes gossip, "Sun-
set" managed to sell more pre-opening
tickets than any other Broadway show
in history. It even managed to pull in a
pretty good set of reviews.
Not faring quite as well in the re-
view category was Stephen Sondheim's
latest, "Passion," The comments
seemed to focus around its dark theme
and songs that weren't "catchy." "Pas-
sion" deals with a handsome young
soldier and the old woman who is ob-
sessively in love with him. Donna
Murphy, as the old woman, was show-
ered with praise and took home the
Best Actress in a Musical Tony. The
show itself, due to some slim pickings
this year, took home the Best Musical
Tony. Even with the wonderful perfor-
mances, the show closed January 8 due
to poor box office response.
Breaking box office records and
continuing to pack them in is the Walt
Disney's entrance into the Broadway
race. While critics cringed and the the-
ater elite shook their heads, Disney's
"Beauty and the Beast" began its on-
slaught. The word is that Disney is
looking to buy its own theater and

way's year of
continue to provide "family entertain-
ment" for the masses. Meanwhile,
Broadway producers are crying "no
fair," as the financial risk element is so
much less for a money-making mogul
like Disney.
In an effort to keep up with the rest
of Broadway, "Kiss of the Spider
Woman"jumped on the capitalism train
and cast fallen Miss America and pop
superstar Vanessa Williams in the title
role. Remarkably. Williams wowed
'em, and when she leaves February
28th, she will be missed. For those of
you who missed her, or just can't get
enough, she will be immortalized on a
new cast recording.
For those theater lovers looking for
an escape from all of the mega-market-
ing, they found their solace off-Broad-
way in Edward Albee's Pulitzer-Prize
winning drama "Three Tall Women."
Also making wavesoff-Broadway was
the intriguingly noisy "Stomp," which
recently began a successful regional

the revival
shows anything, shows that the "safe
bet" is the only way to go. As regional
theater continues to get better and stron-
ger, Broadway seems to be getting
miore and more tentative in their pro-
duction choices and casting. Big name
stars are being chosen in lieu of more
talented unknowns, and revivals are
being done without consideration of
anyone who isn't Lloyd-Webber, Alain
Boublil/Claude-Michel Sch~inberg, or
Sondheim. Sondheim 's "Passion" was
the only real risk of the season, and that
had an early close due to lack of busi-
Prices need to come down, prod uc-
tion costs need to drop, and Broadway
needs to start making use of all of the
unknowns out there who have a lot of
talent but aren't sure things. If the
change doesn't happen soon, the future
of Broadway is shaky, and regional
theater is hungry for the extra business.
If Broadway king-pin Neil Simon is so
discouraged that he opened his new
play in Seattle, you know the rest will
soon follow.

This past year on Broadway, if it


Sondheim's "Passion" unfortunately had low ticket sales and closed early.


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