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February 17, 1997 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-02-17

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Join the esteemed baritone for an evening of Schubert. Holzmair will
be joined by pianist Julius Drake for a sure-to-be-entertaining perfor-
mance at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in the Michigan League
tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $30 in advance. For more
information, call 764-2528.

February 17, 1997

Charles still got the right one, baby

By James Miller
Daily Arts Writer
Saturday night at Hill Auditorium, Ray Charles
graced us with his presence. Backed by the Ann Arbor
Symphony Orchestra and prefaced by the able and
promising Community High 2 O'clock Jazz Band
(with the excellent Ben Janssen and Dave Brophy),
Charles' show had an air of awe
wonder to it, as the crowd
e into a standing ovation the R1
minute he and his valet hit the
stage. ws
The actual performance was
not as strong as Ray's reputation.
Charles played an abnormally
short set (a little under an hour) and opened with an
unknown tune and (for some reason) "It's Not Easy
Being Green." While the skill and pathos of Charles'
voice can make any song beautiful and cathartic,
e's only so much you can do with a song made
famous by Kermit the Frog.
Not that his voice was steady all night. At least three
or four times during the evening Charles' voice would
crack and strain, leaving large gaps in the lyrics and an
awkward, skinny texture. Not that he sounded bad or
even close to it. On the contrary, there were many
moments of exceptional vocal skill. It is important to
remember that Charles was never like Screamin' Jay
Hawkins or Little Richard, with their pyrotechnic,
gravel-laden voices. Like Sam Cooke and Marvin


Gaye, Charles always was a firm believer in a more
subtle approach, with a hint of gravel.
Subsequent tunes like "The Good Life" were ren-
dered rather well, with as simple a treatment as one
can get with an orchestra sitting behind him. In fact,
the orchestra behaved itself pretty much all night,
sounding sometimes a bit sugary and unnecessary, but
never oppressively heavy.
Charles' own trio had no such
vV I Et W luck. The guitarist was inaudible
Ray Charles the whole night, the drummer was
clumsy and heavy-footed, and the
i1 Auditorium bassist was stylistically out of
Feb. 15, 1997 place. It was a surprise to see a
legend like Charles flanked by
such mediocre musicians.
Many of the songs had a morbid feeling to them. "If
I Could," rather than being a typically buoyant Charles
ballad, was downright depressing. It was during this
song that his voice showed the most strain, cracking
and coming apart in places, making the song sound all
the more desperate and sad.
From here, Charles began to pick up speed. A qui-
etly simmering "Baby Please Don't Go" led into a soft
but effective "I Got A Woman." The longer he played
the more he seemed to come back into his voice. But
by the time they got to "Your Cheating Heart,"
Charles' pipes were clear and strong.
After "I Got A Woman," Charles turned his atten-
tion to the piano he had neglected, playing only the

occasional lick, most of the night. On an unannounced
instrumental, he proved, indeed if proof were needed,
that as a child, his mother must have held him by the
ankle and dipped him in the River Bad-Ass. Charles'
electric piano playing has not lost a bit of power since
the Atlantic years. It seems he was holding out on us.
I approached the second to last song with a bit of
fear. "My Song For You" is a later tune of the Charles
canon and has a pronounced pop sensibility. The addi-
tion of the orchestra didn't ease my mind at all.
Although ponderous at times, Charles and company
did a fine job on a somewhat corny song, with his
powerful voice leading the charge.
To my delight, they closed with the spine-tingling
"America, The Beautiful," that never fails to raise the
hairs on the backs of a few necks. Charles gave the
tune a strong, firm treatment, singing the verses in
reverse order in order to leave the famous one for the
end. He was led off stage after that number, copiously
enjoying the roar and shouts of the crowd, stopping
several times to bathe in it.
Even though his voice was weak in places, the con-
cert had several amazing moments. It didn't matter
what song it was, ballad or jumper, standard or origi-
nal. But every so often we caught glimpses of the old
Ray. The gray would bleed out of his hair, his wrinkles
would smooth, his back would straighten and Mr. Ray
Charles the Entertainer would once again become
Brother Ray.
Old age and orchestra be damned. He's still in there.

Musical master Ray Charles charmed the audience at Hill Auditorium on Saturday.

idicule' busts
baniers of
By aura Flyer
*the Daily
Entertaining foreign films are extremely
rare - not because the actual movie lacks tal-
ent and an interesting plot, but because once
subtitles appear at the bottom of the screen,
viewing it suddenly becomes an incredible eye
strain resulting in nothing more than exhaus-
tion and a bad headache.
This norm could not be any farther from the
truth after seeing "Ridicule" a riveting and
highly entertaining film by internationally
laimed director Patrice Leconte.
mmediately, we are drawn into 18th century
France, with the reigning Louis XVI, only six
years before revolution rapidly sweeps across
the country. The Court of Versailles is where all
executive decisions are made, and there is only
one way to voice concerns or opinions: through
wit, but more precisely,
Ridicule is much harsh-
er than wit; it is the ulti-
*e weapon, and making
a mockery of others is the
goal of all who dare to par- _
Troubled by widespread disease,
PohGeludon de Malavoy (Charles Berling),
leaves his homeland and journeys to Versailles
in hopes of receiving aid from the King. Little
does he know the intricacy involved in attain-
ing any sort of recognition in the court.
Much to his fortune, he befriends a veteran
o Versailles, Marquis de Bellegarde (Jean
hefort), who teaches his inexperienced
proteg6 about the world of wit. Ponceludon,

Plays portray minority issues

Fanny Ardant stars in Patrice Leconte's "Ridicule."


once again lucky, finds that he has a knack for
clever conversation and astounds Louis XVI
with his witicisms.
While all of these intense and stressful battles
of the mind overwhelm him, Ponceludon strug-
gles with the desire of two beautiful women.
There is Mathilde (Judith
Godreche), daughter of de
Bellegarde, who despises
Ridicule the silly games of Versailles
and modestly reveals her
**** intelligence and wit through
At Michigan Theater everyday conversations
with him.
Then, there is the recently widowed Countess
of Blayac (Fanny Ardant), who soon becomes
dissatisfied with her current witty lover the
Count, and takes an interest in Ponceludon.
Trouble ensues when the countess discovers
Ponceludon's keen interest in Mathilde, and she
seeks to destroy his achieved reputation in the
court. The best way to diminish his popularity?
Make a mockery of him as he has of others,
With two of France's finest leading actors,

Ardant and Rochefort, Leconte boldly casts a
newcomer of foreign films, Berling. His spec-
tacular character portrayal of Ponceludon is par-
ticularly unrestrained, modest, and natural. No
doubt that Godreche's infallible facial features
and demeanor and Ardant's deadly, provocative
smile are intriguing and entertaining.
Lavish, yet modest costuming and melodi-
ous, Baroque music accentuated the historical
aspects of the movie, reminding us that this
persistent ridiculing of one another occurred
quite often and was the key to power in the
Court of Versailles during the late 1700s.
The most entertaining and humorous aspect
of the film is the actual quips and whims that
are part of the courtiers' dialogue. Each person
is trying to outdo the other with a more witty
statement, and the conversations turn out to be
Shakespearean-like dialogue with incessant
"Ridicule" is like a book you cannot put
down, as if each line of the script is a lingering
sentence that leaves you hanging and you are
anxious to read on.

By Evelyn Miska
For the Daily
In celebration of African American History
Month, Performance Network presented an
evening of two one-act plays concerning slavery
and the difficulty of being a woman in a man's
world. The first of these two plays is "Mary
Goldstein and the Author,"
written by Ann Arbor play- R
wright OyamO.
This one-woman show was R
performed by Natalie Adama M
Chillis. Chillis did a great job Perfo
with a difficult role. "Mary
Goldstein" dealt with many
different issues that are relevant to black women in
today's society, but there were many issues which
are relevant to all women. Whether the issue was
abuse, marriage, or the loss of a lover, Chillis por-
trayed each situation with believable emotion and
was so convincing the audience suffered along
with her. Chillis showed the audience the inner
struggle of a woman who must deal with the diffi-
culty of raising a family and running a household,
and who at the same time needs a certain amount
of freedom to create.
"Mary Goldstein" didn't just deal with one
woman either. Many different women from other
cultures and the many things they do in order to
make them more pleasing to men were examined.
One of the most touching characters was a
Chinese girl who was shown binding her feet in
order to keep them small and pleasing, so that she
could attract a good husband. While the play was
taking part in recognizing African American
Heritage Month, it dealt with issues that are
applicable to all women. The play showed that no
matter what culture a woman belongs to, each cul-
ture has the same belief that women are put on
Earth to serve and obey men.
The second one-act play was "River Dreams"
written by award-winning playwright Elise
Bryant. "River Dreams" was based on the true

story of two slaves who ran to Detroit for freedom.
The play was commissioned by the Michigan Bar
Association. The two main characters were
Thorton and Rutha Blackburn, played by Braint
Hall and Nyima Woods. Woods was outstanding as
Rutha, putting every ounce of energy and emotion.

into her role. Hall
Liver Dreams,
ary Goldstein.
rmance Network
Feb. 14. 1997

was just as good, playing the
headstrong and determined
slave, desperate for freedom
and determined to win
Rutha's love. Although the
audience heard about but
never met the Blackburn's
owner, they did meet his wife,
Miz Fanny. Miz Fanny was

performed by Becky Zarna Fox and was every-
thing a "Southern Belle" is expected to be.
Although Rutha and Thorton met up with many
helpful people along their journey, they were
forced to leave behind one of the dearest charac-
ters in the entire play. Both mentor, and mother,
Queen Esther provided Rutha with plenty of
advice, that always seemed to be right. Played by
Fran Deckard, Queen Esther was the kind of per-
son we all should have in our lives - caring and
sensitive, but also not afraid to say exactly what
she thought. Deckard made Bryant's character lov-
able and managed to warm the hearts of the audi-
In addition to great acting, the play was full of
music and emotion. It is highly unlikely that, when
Rutha and Thorton were separated, there was a dry
eye in the house.
Although the two plays were quite different,,,
they both dealt with difficult issues and forced the
audience to reflect on the events and problems of '
the past. Both directors did a great job in present-
ing this material and created something that was,.
more than just a lecture on the evils of men and ,
slavery. It was obvious that the playwrights, direct-
tors and performers put a great deal of hard work
and love into these performances, making it a
touching and enjoyable evening.



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Pi'*c' """'pw*'" ba~ n~tOC

Shaping the Welfare Debate:
The Press, Policy, and
Public Perception
Feb. 17, Hale Auditoriume1:30 - 5:00 pm r
A panel of nationally known journalists and welfare
experts will focus 'on recent changes in
the federal welfare program and the media's role in
shaping public perception and policy
Sheldon Danzinger
U-M Professor of Public Policy and Social Work
Jason DeParle
The New York Times
Kevin Fobbs
Wayne County Family Independence Agency
M. Gasby Greely
National Urban League
Judy Havemann
The Washington Post
Rita Henley Jensen




columnist and former welfare recipient
Mickey Kaus
The New Republic



r J

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