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March 11, 1996 - Image 9

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-03-11

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U t tti qu~

Toto, we're not Cannes anymore!
It may not be as popular as the annual event on the French Riviera, but
the Ann Arbor Film Festival is sure to amaze with its annual showcase
of independent movies. The fiesta kicks off tomorrow and runs through
Sunday at the Michigan Theater. Look in this space each day for
specific film previews. Call 995-5356 for further information.

I Monday
March 31, 1996

Theigar burns out
Legendary entertainer George Bumns dies at age 100

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - George Burns,
the wry, cigar-smoking comic who played straight
man to Gracie Allen for 35 years, then found new
popularity when he won an Academy Award at age
80, died Saturday just weeks after turning 100.
Pis career lasted more than 90 years, spanning
vaudeville, radio, movies, television, nightclubs, best-
selling books, recordings and
video. He was the oldest actor ha d
ever to receive an Oscar.
But declining health ended Vd l
hisperforming career after he e
was injured in a fall in July been so b'
1994. The 100th birthday
shows were canceled. More A nig t Wi
remntly, ailing with the flu,
Burns was unable even to be a Sharon St
spectator at a gala in his honor
a few days before he turned - George
100. 100th birthd1
He did put out a statement,
saying, "What do you give a man who's been so
blessed? Another 100 years? A night with Sharon
Stone?"
Burns' career was at a crossroads after Gracie -the
ultimate ditzy comedian and the love of Burns' life -
retired in 1958. She died in 1964 and he never remarried.
*pe developed his own act as a single, starring in TV
specials and playing Las Vegas with such discoveries
as Ann-Margret and Bobby Darin.
His popularity soared in the 1970s, with his Oscar
for the aging vaudevillian in "The Sunshine Boys"
touching off a string of movies, books and sold-out
nightclub appearances.
That movie role was followed by starring parts in

m
ro
t
lay

the "Oh, God" series, "Just You and Me, Babe,"
"Going in Style," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club
Band" and "18 Again!"
As the Supreme Being in the "Oh, God" movies,
Burns wore baggy pants, sneakers and a golf cap. He
said he was a bit nervous at first about taking the role
"because I didn't know what kind of makeup he uses.
Besides, he's bigger than Milton
Berle, you know." But he decided,
f y~ou"Why shouldn't I play God? Any-
WhO S thing I do at my age is a miracle."
Burns and Miss Allen were al-
ready vaudeville partners when
they married in 1926. They contin-
ued working together for more than
three decades, becoming one ofthe
most popular couples in show busi-
ness through a string of movie ap-
Burns on his pearances, 19 years on radio and
last month eight more years as stars of their
own television series, "The Burns
and Allen Show."
He did two more television series after Gracie
retired in 1958. "The George Bums Show" in 1959-
60, featured his son, Ronnie, and the other in 1964-65,
"Wendy and Me," co-starred Connie Stevens.
After Gracie's death, Burns adopted the role of
raconteur, telling funny stories that he said began in
truth and were embellished over the years. Using his
cigar for punctuation, alternately taking a puff and
flicking off the ashes with taps of his little finger,
Burns was a master of timing and one-liners.
On retirement: "I can't afford to die when I'm
booked."
On acting: "Acting is easy. If the director wants me

to cry, I think of my sex life. If the director wants me
to laugh, I think of my sex life."
On why he was considered sexy: "I've been longer
at it that anyone else."
On age: "I've reached the point where I get a
standing ovation for just standing."
But it wasn't true; his output was amazing.
In 1980 he recorded an album for Mercury-
Polygram, "I Wish I Was 18 Again," and the title song
became a hit single. He followed with the albums
"George Bums in Nashville" and "Young at Heart."
His books, some written with gag writer Hal
Goldman, included "Dear George," "How to Live to
be 100 or More: The Ultimate Diet, Sex and Exercise
Book" and "Gracie: A Love Story." His last book, "A
Hundred Years, a Hundred Stories," was published at
his 100th birthday.
Burns was born Nathan Birnbaum on Jan.20, 1896,
one of 12 children. He left school in the fourth grade,
selling newspapers to help support his family. In his
teens, Burns began song and comedy routines in
"lousy little theaters that played lousy little acts -
and I was one of them."
He said he was a bad performer for more than a
decade. "Then I met Gracie."
There were other memories of the past at one of his
favorite spots, the Hillcrest Country Club, where he
once shared a round table with some of the biggest
stars in comedy.
"They're all upstairs. All of them gone - Al
Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Jack Benny, George Jessel, Lou
Holtz. Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx," he said.
The moment of reflectioi ended in a standard
Burns quip:
"I can't afford to die; I'd lose too much money."

P' PHOTO
George Burns amused audiences for more than 90 years with his witty straight-
man delivery and cigar chompin' good times.

'U' production: A Dance' of delight

By Tyler Patterson
Daily Arts Writer
I must confess. When I walked away after the opening
night performance of "The Marriage Dance," an original
play by Toby Leah Bochan, I was moved. This is a revelation
for someone like me, because I am somewhat of a freak when
it comes to live performances. I am usually not very con-
cerned with a large part of the emotional aspects of theater.
But not this night.
The story centers around a psychiatrist, Isabel (Heather

Guglielmettie),
R EVIEW who is recently en-
gaged and desper-
The Marriage ately wants a
Dance child. Her boy-
friend, Paul (Jeff
Arena Theater Bender), has other
March 2, 1996 ideas. Principally,
the play deals with
how their wants and desires can test and affect a relation-
ship.
Part of the appeal of "The Marriage Dance" is that it was
written by a peer and written well. You've got to pull for
someone around your age who is attempting something so
grand. The effect of the production was, to say the least,
compelling. There were parts of the performance that were
utterly powerful and on the whole anchored by some good
performances - and some great ones.
Much of the credit to the power of the production must go
to director Roxy Font, an LSA senior. The scenes were laid-
out so perfectly that I cannot imagine another way to do them.
The show was performed "in-the-round" providing for some
tricky blocking and stage design, but both were done flaw-
lessly and without confusion.
Contributing to the play was a live string quartet. This,

without question, raised the performance to another level.
Everything else was solid, mind you, but the music had a way
of pulling you into the action.
In particular, one completely compelling scene is the crisis
point of the play, the point of no return. Here, a pregnant
patient of Isabel's, Ada (Dana Dancho), goes into labor. The
emotion of the scene was immediately intense. Dancho (who
gave such a convincing performance that I wonder if she is
not crazy in real life) was at her best. The actors were
surrounded by walls of transparent white paper that gave a
surreal effect.
Things took a turn for the worse when it became apparent
that Ada would die after the birth. The transition from the
emotional high of a birth to the emotional low of death is
devastating. The quartet's mimicry of a flat line after Ada's
death only increased this effect.
There were strong performances throughout. In particular,
Bender and Gugliemetti worked well together. Bender made
a solid character a strong one through superior acting, while
Gugliemetti was at herbest during the emotional points ofthe
play.
Another noteworthy performance was that of Kim Gainer
who played Isabel's best friend, Helen. She satisfied
completely the depth of her character and was a joy to
watch.
In fact the only soft spot in the performance was that of
Helen's husband, Gerald (Camilio Fontecilla). He seemed to
get distracted by his character's drunkenness and at times
missed the right delivery of his lines, often contradicting the
emotional context.
Still, all in all, I consider myself lucky. I saw the very first
performance of a play with potential. Tonight, in my per-
sonal collection of notes, I will write down, "Toby Leah
Bochan, writer" and "Roxy Font." Because even if the play
doesn't go anywhere after this, they will.

I"olk group Altan wowed Michigan audiences with their cool songs and funny names.
btan ibnns lIshfo tlnes to Ark

& ihomas Crowley
y Arts Writer
Asked which of the songs on her
band's new album, "Blackwater," are
her favorites, the finest fiddle-playing
chanteuse in all of Ireland, Altan's
Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh half-jokingly
responded: "They're all brilliant!"
The truth is, she's right.
One listen to Altan's sixth LP, or to
any of the other critically lauded five is
-ough to put even one unfamiliar with
Seir music in the know. We may come
to understand why the County Donegal-
based six-piece stands a good chance of
taking the torch from the Chieftains and
be'i&ming the next Irish traditional
music ensemble to hit it big internation-
ally,
Qne live performance leaves no ques-
tiorT- Altan is no ordinary Celtic folk
utfIt. The way things are going, they
ve the potential to be absolutely huge
16world over.
..'.Altan features Ni Mhaonaigh and
It'ian Tourish's dual fiddle attack,
. ed by Daithi Sproule on guitar,
Wiiot Byrne on accordion, Ciaran
Cgran on the (originally-Greek)
bqu'ouki and newest addition, Jimmy
fIins, banging the bodhran.
Together, they possess a tremen-
ars knack for taking the age-old folk
ngs of Northwestern Ireland rein-
ced to modern audiences in
=n's electrifying live perfor-
t ces. These are. tunes that argu-
Pi7strike the tympanic membrane as
mrIessively as those of the last few
decades' most dynamic rock 'n' roll

F

REVIEW

Altan
The Ark
Feb. 21, 1996
insisting that we compromise our
music in any way. They gave us com-
plete artistic freedom."
The importance of retaining this free-
dom is crucial, especially for a group
like Altan, whose records and live sets
include a significant number of songs
sung in Gaelic..
Commenting on the surprising but
unquestionably positive manageabil-
ity of their highlands, jigs, mazurkas
and reels to appeal to those who may
not have the slightest knowledge of
the Irish language. "I think it adds a
sense of mystery to the music. People
may not always understand what it is
I'm singing about, yet they still attach
some sort of meaning to it and it
becomes personal," Ni Mhaonaigh
said.
Her rendition of"Brid Og Ni Mhaille"
for instance, showcases a timbre haunt-
ing and sad, yet simultaneously sweet
and soothing enough to tame the rage of
Cuchulainn. As if that is simply not
enough, one marvel sat Ni Mhaonaigh's
fiddling, which distinguishes the music
of her native Donegal from the song
formats and repertoires of Westmeath
or Kerry.
"It tends to be a bit different in
Donegal," said Ni Mhaonaigh, "more
nimble, a more prickly style, whereas

songs.
Throughout the evening, the mem-
bers of Altan made puns and engage in
playful banter, building a friendly rap-
port with their audience, priming them
for the fast and furious numbers and
breaking their hearts with the melan-
choly ballads.
Altan concluded its second sold-
out show of the evening with an en-
core so matched in excitement with
the preceding set that they could have
opened with it. One got the feeling
that this was not merely another gig,
but rather, one of the genre-defining
musical acts of 20th century. The Irish
folk group made history, as well as
paying homage to it.

Do ou feel like you have no voice
in the University?
The Michigan Student Assembly is looking for students to serve on
campus-wide committees. Committees are comprised of students,-faculty
and staff, and advise various University Departments. Most committees
meet about once a month and require a commitment of one to twO years.
POSITIONS AVAILABLE:
Student Legal Services (3) 2 undergrad and I Law student
Financial Affairs (2) 1 grad and I undergrad
Student Relations (4) grad and undergrad
Research Policies (3) 1 undergrad and 2 grad
Recreational Sports (2) students
University Library Council (1) graduate student (1) undergraduate student
Distinguished Faculty Achievement Awards (1) student
nanmich.p aRd Dacreh Antist Award (11 student

t Y

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