Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

October 17, 1996 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-10-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

14B - The Michigan'Daily Weekend agazine Thursday, October*17,;1996

* , .


The Mietigan o }retkii Ma

'Edwin Drood thrills audiences
with new, different endings

State of the Arts

By Tyler Patterson
Daily Theater Editor
Imagine a mystery novel where in
every reading a different suspect is the
killer. Think of the last great story you
read and imagine what it would be like
if the last few chapters rewrote them-
selves every time you put the book
down. hInUniversity Productions' first

musical of the year, "The Mystery of
Edwin Drood," this scenario is not as
far-fetched as it sounds. It's the premise
of Rupert Holmes' musical stage adap-
tation of Charles Dickens' unfinished
Calling on a tradition of British
music hall theater where vaudeville-
type performers showcase their talents

in a haphazard collection of entertain-
ing performance pieces, "Drood" is a
special kind of musical.
In a recent interview with The
Michigan Daily, Gary Bird, director of
"The Mystery of Edwin Drood," said,
"The closest thing to liken it to is
American vaudeville. It has a turn-of-
the-century feel where you see a num-
ber of artists perform acts, songs,
scenes and little vignettes. It fed into
the early silent film."
Bird, who directed U-prod's "Grand
Hotel" last winter, sees a benefit to giv-
ing students experience working on
shows like "Drood" or "Grand Hotel"
that fall away from the more main-
stream Rodgers and Hammerstein-style
musicals. "They're very much more
style pieces," Bird explained. "I just
think it's an interesting challenge for
our students if they can do more than
the standard musicals"
The combination of a loose audit
ence-engaging atmosphere and one of
the preeminent storytellers of all time,
Charles Dickens, may be a lethal com-
bination. On Broadway, this musical
won five Tony Awards when it opened
in 1985, including Best Musical.
The unfinished Dickens story, how-
ever, acts as a "springboard" for the
musical, and "Drood" is by no means
trying to claim itself as the authoritative
version. Part of the charm of this musi-
cal is that it extends a tradition that
began with Dickens' death - guessing
what the proper ending of this story
should be.
"It's about a company of British
music hall performers who decide to be
ambitious," Bird explained. "Usually,
they perform a disjointed series of

As a young
Capitol Hill intern in
the summer of 1993,
I attended the regu-
lar brouhahas that
were Rep. Ed
Markey's (D-Mass.)
committee hearings
on profanity and
offensive material
on television. Held
Daily Arts Editoin a big, stuffy room
in the Rayburn
House Office Building, the meetings
seemed remarkably familiar. They were
eerily reminiscent of old newsreel clip-
pings of McCarthy's 1950s witch trials.
In this case, though, a mere TV show
was scrutinized.
A few big Hollywood producers and
white-haired TV gods arrived to tell
how they were going to revolutionize
TV. They were going to give the
American people flashy new dramas,
hip comedies and a certain program that
would be the best on the tube.
The best ... ay, there was the rub!
The media circus at whose heart I
found myself sitting was a gimmick. A
cheap trick. A ploy organized by a few
strict members of congress who had

invited some showbiz bigwigs to pitch
in their two cents.
And while the term "V-chip" was
never far from any elected official's
lips, an innovative new cop drama that
was all the buzz of Tinseltown became
the real issue of debate.
"'NYPD Blue' is coming to ABC
next season," bragged one of the hon-
chos sitting before the committee. He
promised the nervous representatives
that this would be a landmark show -
the program that would be so remark-
able that it would break the long-stand-
ing taboo prohibiting graphic material
from the little screen. (In recent years,
a panelist at that hearing - Jack
Valenti, president of the Motion
Picture Association of America and
father of the MPAA's ratings system-
has noted that "NYPD Blue" would
probably get a "PG-13" rating were it a
feature film.).
But while Washington was warming
up to this wonderful new show,
Averagetown, U.S.A., wasn't so keen.
Numerous ABC affiliates blacked out
the program, claiming their audiences
did not deserve to see a show that
included mild profanity and brief nudi-
ty - even after 10 p.m.

Well ... the joke's on them: Having
opened its fourth season Tuesday
evening with typically high ratings,
"NYPD Blue" returned as the best pro-
gram TV has to offer.
Three years after the big to-do in
Washington, there is still no "V-chip"
for sale at every Radio Shack in
America, plenty of graphic language
and imagery remains on the show and
few stations dare prevent their audi-
ences from watching it.
"NYPD Blue" marches on.
What once was a major cause of con-
cern for politicians who feared it would
corrupt America, has become a fantas-
tic phenomenon greater than anyone
may have anticipated. And what a pleas-
ant surprise that is.
Nevertheless, "NYPD Blue" has
undergone some reconstruction since
producer Steven Bochco - creator of
"Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law" -
brought it to TV A silly disclaimer now
warns that the show contains "scenes of
a frank and explicit nature" - even
though it is on long after the little ones
have gone to bed. Now an almost
entirely different cast works in New
York's 15th police precinct (after ballsy
David Caruso left the show to pursue

what has become a dud of a big-sc
career, and others followed suit).
show's trademark shaky-camera
nique and fresh, raw cinematic s
have been copied by numerous env
competitors. And talented actors
Dennis Franz, Jimmy Smits, J
McDaniel, Sharon Lawrence
Nicholas Turturro - the show's
cement - are now given the acco
and recognition they have
Since its inception, "NYPD I
has not folded to political, industr
critical pressures; it has consist
remained the lone gem of high-qi.
television. It is a show that risk
w ww c heUs t i
Also, check o
and Minor

From left to right: Featured performers Lade Ferdman, Matt Schicker and Erika
Shannon star In The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
~ When: Thursday through Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m.
V Where: Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
V Tickets: $7, $18. Call 764-0450 for information.

3 S


vaudeville musical acts, but they decide
to put on their version of Dickens'
unfinished classic. With the little gim-
mick at the end."
The gimmick at the end, of course, is
that the audience gets to decide who did

Hopefully, Sheldon will restore the
credibility of local government. . .She is a
natural concensus builder and will play
an integral part in focusing the Council's
agenda on the critical issues that face the
city and the University community.
- The Michigan Daily
When Sheldon served on Council from
1989 to 1992, she was not afraid to speak
out when her positions did not go along
with the Republican line. In the process,
she ruffled feathers, but she maintained
her integrity. The city needs the leader-
ship of a woman whose foremost
concerns are policies that provide long-
term benefits for Ann Arbor. That woman
is Ingrid Sheldon.
- The Ann Arbor News
Paid for by the Ingrid Sheldon for Mayor Committee
g. iesemre Treasti A4,. * .aff lr~i Pbdr 18

it. University Productions offers seven
possible endings and after an audience
vote, the company will then perform
their choice. "There are seven different
murderers, each with their own confes-
sions to make," Bird said.
"The challenge will be to get the
audience involved without being
assaulted," Bird went on. "It's a TV gen-
eration. People don't go to a show
expecting to be involved."
There's nothing new about engaging
the audience into a performance. "The
thing that's interesting is that there
was a whole lot more audience-inter-
action theater before the advent of
realism," Bird said. "Nobody would
go to a theater if the audience wasn't
The difference in experience could
not be more pronounced. In the tradi-
tional "TV" experience, one main-
tains a certain amount of distance
from the world created in the perfor-
mance. In the style put forth by "The
Mystery of Edwin Drood," you cannot
separate the theater goer from the
world of the performers. With the cast
of a simple ballot, the performers
must comply with the wishes of the
Throughout the weekend, with every
performance, there will be another mys-
tery to solve. Despite their experience
with the story, the performers always
return to square one. A murder has
occurred. Someone is responsible, but
no one knows who. Not even the mur-
derer. With the help of the audience,
each and every night, a mystery gets
solved -only to be recreated at curtain

Custom Academic Apparel
A C.E. Ward Representative will
be available for measuring Custom
Gowns, Hoods, Caps, Tams.
Michigan Union

Lower level Michigan
Union Building
Friday, October 18th
Saturday, October 19


4 .4.'.

Back to Top

© 2022 Regents of the University of Michigan