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February 25, 1998 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-25

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e Ryan White movie will be shown tonight at the MLB. In honor
AIDS Awareness Week, multiple groups on campus are sponsor-
g a free presentation of the film about White, who brought nation-
attention to the AIDS virus. The free showing will be held the
LB Lecture Room 2 at 7 p.m. Tomorrow, his mother will lecture
id hold a book signing at Rackham Auditorium at 6 p.m.

fe £dfiqun t

It's a Weekend, etc. retro flashback. Remember when Culture
Club asked, "Do you really want to hurt me?" and when Molly
Ringwald was a teenage icon? Check out Weekend, etc.
tomorrow, and dig back into the awesome '80s.
February 25, 1998


Guild celebrates 25 years at 'U'


y Valerie Lapinski
or the Daily
To celebrate the Comic Opera Guild's 25th
nniversary, the cast of "Orpheus in the
Jnderworld" will attempt to bring the under-
orld to life.
,Written in 1858 by French composer Jaques
- nbach, the operetta caused a stir among the
uris elite with its parody of the mythological
lades. Performed with director Thomas Petiet's
English translation more
than 100 years later the
show still has ample abili-
ty to entertain.
Orpheus In the original myth, the
in the hero Orpheus bargains his
Underworld way with Hades to bring
y delssohn Theater his wife Eurydice back
Begins tomorrow from the dead. The twist is
at 8 p.m. that Eurydice really isn't
interested in going back
with him. A well-known
story used as a subject for
many baroque operas,
"Orpheus" is given a light-
hearted spin in
ffenbach's version.
The composer took some comic liberties,
aking Orpheus an arrogant violin instructor
Eurydice a headstrong adulteress. Their
rriage is on the rocks - Orpheus cavorts
ith his young students, Eurydice wants a
ivorce, and their despair becomes more a
aughingstock than a drama. The tumultuous
arriage is the focal point for many of the
how's jokes, all delivered in fond recognition of
he story's classical roots.

In his time, Offenbach's work was deemed
both scandalous and clever, bringing him recog-
nition and popularity in the music world.
"Orpheus" is considered to be his greatest work,
and its success has carried to the present day.
The Comic Opera Guild has had a large role in
keeping "Orpheus" popular through the
painstaking efforts of managing director Petiet.
"The uniqueness of (the Guild) is that we do
our own translations," Petict said. When
"Orpheus" was first performed by the Guild in
1978, Petiet took great care in his translation of
the score and lyrics to preserve Offenbach's
comedic intentions. While some of the French
nuances may be missing, the heart and character
of the show has remained intact.
The two-act production features the classical
style of Offenbach as well as a rousing rendition
of the famous Can-Can, under the conduction of
Edward Szabo, former conductor of the Ann
Arbor Symphony. Offenbach's original score was
copied by hand for the Guild's production to
ensure that the score would not be tainted by later
A myriad of talents from all over the area con-
tribute to the show. The large cast includes stu-
dents from the University, Eastern Michigan
University and various community colleges near-
by. Also involved are several University alumni,
including Petiet himself.
Music first-year student Juliet Petrus plays
Eurydice in one of the two casts. "Orpheus" is
Petrus' first production with the Guild, and she
expressed delight in being able to share the expe-
rience with long-time members as well as new-
"There's music lovers from all over. It's a great

place to work," she said, describing the atmos-
phere of the show. "I'm enjoying the opportunity
to do light opera ... Voice majors don't have
much opportunity to audition for school shows
until junior year, so this is great for me."
The unique musical form allows students to
familiarize themselves with a different type of
vocal style, one not often emphasized in formal
voice training, Petrus explained.
The Guild has been conscientious of the
opportunities it provides students since its open-
ing in 1973.
"We've been touring since the beginning and
have been to about 30 cities in Michigan and
Ohio," Petiet said. "It provides a new experience
for students."
The feats of the Guild have been many, and all
for the sake of preserving the comic opera art
form. The Guild has produced about 50 musical
shows in its 25 years, many of which have rarely
been performed in Michigan. Also, the Guild has
provided about a dozen translations of other
shows for the use of other U.S. opera companies.
This year's performance of "Orpheus" cele-
brates and adds to these accomplishments. It was
often no easy task to keep the Guild afloat, espe-
cially during the early '90s, Petiet admitted.
Opera lost much of its popularity due to changes
in audience and technology. The Guild has had to
accommodate these changes in the past few
"The 25th anniversary is the big focus of the
year," Petiet said. The performance of "Orpheus"
coincides with Comic Opera Guild Week, in
which members will celebrate their years togeth-
er and hold an awards ceremony for those who
have been in more than five shows.

Courtesy of ComicOpera Guild
Jeff Willets, Bronwen Rae and Tom Petlet star In Comic Opera Guilds' "Orpheus in the Underworld."

Behind the laughter of the audience and the
soaring arias onstage, the true quality of the pro-
ductions lies in the serious efforts of the Guild to
preserve the art form. The time spent in main-
taining accuracy pays off in the smiles and
appreciation of the community.
"Orpheus in the Underworld" promises to be
an entertaining cultural experience for all who

enjoy music, and more importantly, laughter.
"Orpheus in the Underworld" begins tomorrow
at 8 p.m., and will run until Saturday at the the
Mendelssohn Theater On Sunday, the perfor-
mance begins at 2p.m. Tickets cost $7 and are
available at SKR Classical Records in advance
or Lydia Mendelssohn Box Office before the

Unique angle
ly Prashant Tamaskar
- Arts Writer
]though Volker Schlondorff's "Palmetto" bor-
ows its plot from "Fargo" and to a lesser degree
rom "Excess Baggage," the film has a unique style
hat distinguishes it from these other works.
Ultimately, it is this style that brings life to an
ncreative staged kidnapping premise, making
Palmetto" a flawed but entertaining movie.
Woody Harrelson stars as Harry Barber, a jour-
alist released from jail when his conviction is over-
urned. Living with his artist girlfriend Nina (Gina
*shon), Harry struggles to find work until he is
pproached by a seductive young woman, who says
he has a job for him.
It turns out that the woman is Rhea Malroux
Elisabeth Shue), wife of the richest man in all of
almetto, Florida. Rhea and her step-daughter,
Odette Malroux (Chloe
Sevigny), have devised a
scheme to fake a kidnapping
and collect a ransom of
Palmetto $500,000. They only need a
voice to pretend to be the
At Briarwood This is where Harry comes
and Showcase in. Although he's a bit hesitant,
Harry quickly succumbs to the
charms of Rhea and Odette,
and agrees to participate for a
10-percent cut. The rest of the
h movie deals with the execution
of the plan, and the complica-
tions that arise.
order for "Palmetto" to succeed the viewer
st be able to understand the character of Harry
3arber. To the film's credit, a large part of the movie
s spent developing him and explaining his motiva-
ions and actions.
Two years in prison on a bum rap have made
larry a bit cynical about the notion of justice. He
eels that somebody owes him something for the
ime he spent in the slammer. Yet, still he has main-
ained a sense of integrity and dignity that is almost
f course, this all goes out the window when the
dce for vindication is presented in the package of
pair of tempting women. Harry sees their scheme
s an opportunity to stick it to the police while mak-
rg a few dollars, all without hurting anyone. And,
ince Harry is indeed a man, he is quite easily per-
uaded by Rhea and Odette, who tease him into
ompl iance.

Play inverts the norm

By Maicde Jones
For the Daily
As students write their papers and
prepare for midterms at the University,
exhaustion due to long hours of study
becomes inevitable. Many opt to avoid
plays and concerts in fear of falling to
sleep. But for those who would enjoy an
enthralling performance, Performance
Network's "Inverted Pyramid" is guar-
anteed to keep even the most tired stu-
dent from dozing off.
The third of six plays in the
Professional Premiere Series at
Performance Network, "Inverted
Pyramid" is a poignant story of friend-
ship between Diana (Maggie Wysocki),
the Jewish owner of an advertising
agency, and Gary (Ray Schultz), her tal-
ented gay art director. Set in New York
City, their relationship gets off to a
rocky start as each tries to show to the
other how much social injustice and dis-
crimination hurts their own respective
Comedic in nature, their arguments
are not only hilariously entertaining, but
also add personality to two characters
who seem almost like stereotypes at the
beginning of the play. Somehow, during
their incessant bickering, Diane and
Gary manage to become inseparable
Filled with humor, "Inverted
Pyramid" shows the audience a funny
side of two very strong characters.
Through their comical arguments and
interactions, Diane and Gary express
their feelings of exclusion from certain
parts of American society.
Throughout the play, both Diane and
Gary share with each other important
aspects of their own cultures and realize
that despite their differences, they have
more in common than they had first
expected. Among other things, the two
attend the Broadway play "Angels in
America" and visit the Holocaust
Museum in Washington D.C., breaking
the solemn mood with bursts of comedy
along the way.
In a twist of fate, both characters are
forced to come to terms with illnesses

and together face the prospect of death.
Deep friendship and love maintain the
bond between the two characters as they
make their way into the unknown.
Diane and Gary sweep the audience
through this magnificent story which
deals with life, death, disease, love, faith
and acceptance of others and one's self.
It moves the audience from fits of laugh-
ter one moment and to tears in the next.
Written by Larry Dean Harris and
directed by Jim Posante, "Inverted
Pyramid" is a joy to watch. Other mem-
bers of the cast include Carla Milarch,
Charles Sutherland, Jimmy Dee Arnold
and Johanna Goodman; it also contains
two actors of the University, Daniel
Kahn, a first-year student in the theater
department, and Stephanie Pascaris, a
resent graduate from the University's


theater program;
both fill their
roles well and
bring flavor to the
"I n v e r t e d

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures
Woody Harrelson stars as Harry Barber, an individual of the most conniving sort, in "Palmetto"

Harry is played to bumbling perfection by
Harrelson, an actor who is a natural at being a suck-
er. But, more than just being a sap, Harrelson man-
ages to capture the complexities of his character. He
accurately portrays the dilemmas Harry faces, as he
attempts to think straight with two temptresses
draped all over him. In short, Harrelson is the ideal
person for this role.
Shue and Sevigny work well as the mother and
step-daughter respectively. Shue is especially campy
as she plays her role to farcical excess. Every word
out of her mouth implies sex, which helps her
ensnare Harry for their plan.
The only other notable parts are played by Gina
Gershon and Michael Rapaport. Gershon is Nina,
Harry's sweet girlfriend, and the only woman fea-
tured who isn't conniving. Her character has poten-
tial, but is a bit too inconsistent. Rapaport, as Mr.
Malroux's bodyguard, is hilarious in his typical
lunkhead role.
"Palmetto" has all the elements of a conventional

film noir (a setting where it's either blisteringly hot or
raining, duplicitous characters, sex and a scheme), but
it adds something else that is interesting -humor.
Harry is such a dupe, Shue and Sevigny are such
caricatures, and Rapaport is so filled with testos-
terone that it's impossible not to laugh at them. The
characters have some really funny lines, and general-
ly, act the way real people would if placed in that sit-
uation - that is, they don't always deliver polished
dialogue and are never fully in control of any situa-
tion. Although the film's characters and humor are
not nearly as rich as "Fargo"'s, for example,
"Palmetto" still manages to be humorous in its own
Overall, "Palmetto" has many weaknesses includ-
ing its too conventional premise and a plot that is
slightly convoluted due to an excess of contrived and
often unnecessary twists. "Palmetto" ultimately is an
enjoyable film because of its willingness to approach
a specific film genre from a slightly different per-

Performance P y r a m i d"
Network received third
Jan. 31, 1998 place in the
M i d w e s t
Festival and sec-
ond place in the
Ohio Theater
A l l i a n c e
P1 a y w r i t i n g
Contest. It is now making its profession-
al debut at Performance Network, a the-
ater dedicated to performing arts that
entertain and inform audiences. This is
the final week of its performance;
"Inverted Pyramid" can be seen tomor-
row through Saturday at 8 p.m. and
Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m. Admission is
"Inverted Pyramid" is a heart-touching
play dealing with tough issues in a very
charismatic, straightforward manner.
This drama does a thorough and impres-
sive job of expressing every aspect of its
powerful characters. It is a multi-faceted
comedy with a high emotional charge
that is definitely hard to forget.

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