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February 23, 1996 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-02-23

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Get a little 'Closer'
"Closer Than Ever," a collection of songs by Richard Maltby Jr. and
David Shire (the acclaimed duo behind Broadway's "Big") will be
presented by a group of musical theater students at the U-club in the
Michigan Union on Saturday and Sunday at 9 p.m. This collaborative
work offers an unusual opportunity to experience great musical theater.
Tickets are a steal at a mere $3. Buy them at the door.

February 23, 1996

New work explores social issues

Paul Molnar, Heather Dilly and Joshua Parrott make an endearing love triangle in "The Male Animal."
well-bred'Male Animl
TV veteran Hal Cooper directs James Thurber's classic comedy

By Jessica Chaffin
For the Daily
Fiercely protective, foolishly insensitive, utterly absurd:
fese are the mechanisms of "The Male Animal"- accord-
g to James Thurber, at least. The department of theater and

drama's production of Thurber's 1940
The Male
Where: Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
When: Tonight and Saturday at 8
p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
ckets: $16, $12, $6 students.
all 764-0450.

comedy about the
unbridgeable gap
between the male
and the female of
our fine species
and the complica-
tions that result
opened at the
L y d i a
M en d ei s s o h n
Theater last night.
The production
finds us nestled in

Patricia and uber-jock Wally Meyers.
Hal Cooper's production manages to find the happy bal-
ance between humor and gravity which the material de-
mands. A somewhat slow beginning gains momentum
quickly, resulting in the extremely entertaining and enjoy-
able second and third acts. This is due in great part to the
strong performances given by each of the principal actors.
Paul C. Molnar's Tommy Turner is an adorably disheveled
mix ofendearing insecurity and intellectual integrity. Joshua
Parrott contrasts well with a vibrant performance as the
oafish yet adorable all-American hero. leather Dilly as
Ellen vacillates convincingly between the two.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the production is its
comedy. Although there are resonances of the sitcom humor
which is Cooper's forte, his direction is not heavy-handed,
and the actors manage to come off as convincing characters,
not caricatures. The drunken scene between Tommy and
Michael Barnes (Pat Moltane), in which we learn just how
similar the behavior of "the male animal" is throughout the
animal kingdom, is hilariously memorable for both its humor
and its truth. The same can be said for the numerous scenes
in which we see the disintegration and reconciliation of
Tommy and Ellen.
University Prof. John Neville-Andrews provides a wel-
come splash of color as the British Dean Damon, a non-
confrontational English professor who abstains from politi-
cal discourse on the grounds that he "hasn't taught anything
beyond the beginning of the 17th century."
This production entertains, all the while cleverly provoking a
critical intellectual reaction from the audience. If nothing else,
it convinces us that we can never hope to understand the
behavior of "The Male Animal," only marvel at it.

By Greg Parker
Daily Arts Writer
Once again demonstrating a penchant
for finding unique contemporary art,
last Friday marked the opening of the
Alexa Lee Gallery's NEXT exhibition.
Consisting of a selection of social com-
mentary artwork from five young art-
ists, the Ann Arbor gallery says that the
artists "are dedicated to illuminating a
vision of the world often hidden by our
limited sight and prejudice."
Ranging from gender issues to cri-
tiques of capitalism, the art is diverse
- and provocative. Laurie Halbritter's
gingerbread men and women with vari-
ous "ambiguous appendages" seem to
stress the abstraction of gender. Ironi-
cally inspired by a 1940s cookie cutter,
Halbritter describes the simple, mono-
chromatic images as "dumb, yet so-
phisticated." Halbritter's images are
perhaps blunt to an extreme degree -
the viewer really is not left with any-
thing to work with when evaluating the
gingerbread pieces.
The work of Detroit's Scott
Stephanoff, however, demands inter-
pretation. Walking into the gallery,
Stephanoff's "NIKE" is impossible to
ignore. Quite simply, it is an industrial
vision of the classic Nike. The Nike's
rib cage is meticulously constructed
from arched metal and various nuts,
bolts and washers. Its wings are formed
with metal strips, attached with fasten-
ers similar to the rib cage. The metallic
construction of the Nike reminds one of
armor in apost-modernsindustrial sense.
Stephanoff stated that he hoped to ex-
hibit the timelessness ofthe classic with
the immediacy of modern technology.
While the Nike looks very heavy, it is
by no means frightening - it is elegant
and beautiful.
Stephanoff's other piece, "The
Keep," is another testament to technol-
ogy. At first, the castle-like work sim-
ply looks like a medieval lamp. Upon
closer inspection, peering into the top
of the "castle" exposes a small televi-
sion monitor. The monitor displays
Japanese animation with the theme of a
technologically controlled world, but
Stephanoff stresses that he believes there
is no true battle with technology. Origi-
nally modeled with Lego, "The Keep"
is constructed with aluminum in a style
similar to his "N IKE."
Ann Arborite Stephanie Sailor con-
tinues her tradition of gender issues
with her contribution to NEXT. Along
with a selection from "MILK-What a
surprise!" is a piece that was inspired
from the controversy that surrounded
Eric's Trip
Purple Blue
I Sub Pop
On their third album for Sub Pop,
Eric's Trip opt for a harsher, more
discordant sound. Where "Love Tara"
and "Forever Again" emphasized the
group's dreamy lo-fi leanings, "Purple
Blue" punks out their basic formula
of loud guitars and boy-girl harmo-
nies. With their beautiful pop side
submerged, Eric's Trip is amore chal-
lenging listen. The opening track "In-
troduction Into the ... " is a medley of

Where: Alex a Lee Gallery
When: Until March 16. Open
Tuesday through Saturday from 10
a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission is free. For more
information, call 668-8800.
the "MILK" exhibit. Reminiscent of
elementary school punishment, the
piece consists of "I will not make any
more art that includes penises" written
in pink crayon at least 15 times on the
paper. One cannot help but grin after
seeing this purposely less-than-subtle
Sailor also presents "Family Por-
trait," a sequence of a reproduced fam-
ily photograph. Under the matted se-
quence is a list of persons in the photo-
graph, which incidentally is Sailor's
family. The women's names in the list,
however, are crossed out and replaced
with their "married" names. These
crossed off maiden names juxtaposed
with the sequence of photos above
quite convincingly convey the feeling
of loss.
On a serious yet lighthearted note,
Sailor's "Girls" and "Boys" are framed
and matted with color-copied images
of genderized dolls and action figures.
Along with the highly masculine re-
productions of Skeletor and other "boy"
action figures are pink and frilly "girl"
dolls. The color copier did a startling
job of reproducing the plastic dolls,
and Sailor states that she works with
copiers on a regular basis because of
low cost and versatility.

Detroit's Greg Simons seeks to merge
sculpture with painting with his work.
All of Simons' pieces are thick, substan-
tive and made of wood. They protrude
from the wall and imply texture-espe-
cially in "Ruined," with its wax inlayed
in varnished plywood. Simons' use of
texture is also evident in "I scream, you
scream, we all scream, we all scream,"
which consists of a block of red, white
and blue stripes with a chunk of Nea-
politan-esque ice cream inset. Simons
indicated that the Neapolitan ice cream's
three flavors represented the utopian
visions of capitalism, while the title sig-
nifies the sarcastic, critical tone of the
New Yorker Carter Hodgkin rounds
out the quintet. Carter was not present at
the opening, and his pieces seem to be
impersonal. His "Duckweed Pollen #1-
5" are well constructed, but seem to be
rather uninteresting upon first glance.
Bruno L. David, Corporate Art Advisor
for the gallery, noted that Hodgkin's
elegant depiction of the duckweed pol-
len were supposed to contrast with the
problems caused by the pollen. This
having been said, the pieces make more
sense and are more congruent to NEXT.
Overall, the Alexa Lee Gallery has
amassed a diverse and extraordinary
group of young contemporary artists.
While social commentary is a central
theme of NEXT, the pieces still main-
tain high artistic standards without fail-
ing to make a social statement. The
different artists compliment each other
well,and the different medias and themes
of each artist maintain a very interesting
environment for the viewer.

.1' i

e i

the cozily optimistic setting of pep rallies and raccoon fur
coats just before America's entrance into World War I. The
"big rival" here is the opposing football team, not the Ger-
mans, but Thurber's play manages to give equal weight to
both the frivolity of the love triangle that is at the center, and
to the conflict between the conformist demands of "Ameri-
canism," which prevailed at the time and the free intellectual
scourse seemingly inherent in American ideals, which
nstitute its sub-plot.
The age-old theme of the intellectual versus the physical is
about as subtle as the marching band as Prof. Tommy Turner
and football legend/old flame Joe Ferguson vie for Ellen
Turner's affections. This triangle is shadowed-with school
newspaper editor Michael Barnes, Ellen's younger sister
Will Downing to play
Following the recent release of his fifth
album, "Moods" which debuted No. 1
on Billboards TOP Contemporary Jazz
Abum chart, artist Will Downing will
appear tonight at Detroit's Fox
Theater. The night promises to be an
outstanding one.
A decade-long veteran in the music biz,
Downing is without peers in his ability
to combine various sounds unique to
different genres into a single, all-
encompassing musical greatness. The
vocals he produces will cause your
spirit to soar and crash like the tides:
*"Moods" is a highly appropriate name
for Downing's artistry.
Blue Note jazz songstress, Dianne
Reeves, will perform as well. Her
recent "Quiet After the Storm" proves
that she is a powerful singer with full
control over the challenging lyrical
assemblage of traditional jazz.
As if these two black-music legends
aren't enough, the Fox Theater will
also welcome the beautiful saxophonist
Najee, whose most recent LP is a
* nicely-done jazzified remake of many of
Stevie Wonder's greatest hits.
Tonight the old and respected meets
the new and beloved in black music.
Don't miss it. Fox Theater, 8 p.m. All
tickets are $27.50 and can be
purchased at Ticketmaster.
- Eugene Bowen


A woman enjoys the NEXT exhibit.

the group's more gentle sounds,
which makes the ominous, roaring
drone of "Hourly" all the more star-
Indeed, most of "Purple Blue"
shares that noisy drone and risks be-
coming monotonous. The downbeat,
hypnotic "Sixteen Hours" and"Alone
and Annoyed" are some of the best of
the noisy tracks, and unashamedly
pop tunes like "Universe," "Light-
house" and "Now a Friend" provide
welcome variety. The gorgeous bal-
lads "One Floor Below" and "Soon,
Coming Closer" mix up the loud-
and-soft dynamic play that "Purple
Blue" could use more of.

While still a good album, "Purple
Blue" abounds with loud, thrashy num-
bers that have all too much in common
with one another. Turning the volume
up to 11 doesn't mask the fact that the
songs are weak.
- Heather Phares
See RECORDS, Page 10
*r**** ...Classic
****... Excellent
* ... Poor
Zero ... A Bomb



Does waiting in line bug you?
We have all the services >
to get you in and out FASTI
" Automated machines that 9i
collate and staple
" Report bindin while you wait r eprt
* Canon Color Cpies in minutes binding /
Overheads before class begins,....
color J
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A hilarious rivalry both on and off the football field.
The M~al Animal
by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent

Directed by
Hal Cooper
February 22-24
at 8 PM
February 25



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