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November 02, 1998 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-02

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. r

ving' Spielberg for Oscar
&ving Private Ryan" plays at the Michigan tonight. If you
missed the summer's big hit, now's your chance to see what all
the fuss is about. The Steven Spielberg war drama stars the ever-
talented Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, and tells a World War II
tale about perseverence and casualties of war. The screening
begins at 7 p.m.

i refl9ictr

w in Daily Arts:
It's Breaking Records time again in Daily Arts. Tomorrow,
we will feature the Afghan Wigs' new release, "1965."
November 2,1998

'Cats' remembers what happiness is

Danson show dies


By Christopher Tkaczyk
Daily Arts Editor
Jellicle students, stay in tonight ... Jellicle kids,
stay in, don't moll. A Jellicle show is about to begin.
Jellicles, call for the Jellicle ball.
"Cats," the longest running show in Broadway his-
tory, will air tonight on PBS. Andrew Lloyd
4&bber's spectacular musical version of T.S. Eliot's
"Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" was recently
filmed at London's Adelphi Theater. The perfor-
mance will be presented as part of PBS' Great
Performances series. It is the second of such produc-
tions to be aired; the first was Lloyd Webber's
"Requiem" in 1984.
Featuring the return of Elaine Page, "Cats" presents
the ultimate in theater casting. This filmed version of
the musical was created with the best performers who
e been pawing and licking their way to the top
ce the musical first appeared on London's West
End in 1981.
"Cats" has a simple story. Following
Eliot's book of children's poetry, "Cats"
reveals a special species of felines whose
uniqueness of life give them the opportunity to do
unfeline things - cats who por-
tray humans in more than one
aspect. Once a year, the cats
convene and pick one cat who
Cats shall journey to the
Heavyside Layer. Here,
the idea of reincarnation
is mixed in with the old
PBS cliche of "cats have nine
Tonight at 8 p.m. lives." Each song intro-
duces a new kitty char-
acter, and finally, in w
the end, a cat is
* 3 chosen for that
magical ride to
the moon.

not an exciting show, but when the musical premiered
on Broadway in 1982, it was adored by audiences for
its look and luscious musical score. It was the first of
the blockbuster musicals that would eventually take
over the Great White Way. Lloyd Webber's some-
times jazzy, sometimes sweeping music is definitely
the strong point of the musical - not to mention
Gillian Lynne's brilliant choreography.
PBS' filmed presentation of Cats captures the poet-
ic captivation of the original production. Directed for
film by David Mallet, "Cats" is filled with intricate
close-ups of the lead players - a definite difference
from a live presentation. Calling up the age-old genre
argument between film and theater - this version of
"Cats" doesn't allow the audience to view the piece
for themselves. The camera serves as the audience
eye; Mallet is in control of all that is seen.
This "Cats" was

ened to a total running time of just under two hours.
In order to do so, one of the show's best numbers was
cut - a highly unprofessional artistic mistake.
"Growltiger's Last Stand," the flashback number in
which Gus, the Theater Cat, recalls his greatest role,
includes a stanza that defines Eliot's legend as a
poet. His penache for writing verse in Italian is also
seen in "The Wasteland," and "The Four Quartets."
Removing the number further separates unlearned
audiences from any knowledge about Eliot. To
remove Growltiger's dramatic soliloquy is to remove
any shred of Eliots' poetic license - an argument
raised by many critics back when Lloyd Webber even
thought of setting "Old Possum's Book" to music. Of
all things, the "Pollicle Dogs" number, a tacky dis-
play of horrendous music and silly dancing, should
have been cut first and foremost.
But the solo performances in this "Cats" are out-
standing. Page is brilliant again in the role she origi-
nally created. Her jarring version of "Memory" is
one to be cherished and replayed over and over again.
For the song "Memory," Page gave birth to the artis-
tic rights of it in 1981, and she still shines today
as the distraught Grizabella.
Offering a realistic interpreta-
tion of an elderly Gus, English
actor John Mills is more than believable as an old
actor suffering from palsy. His duet with Susan Jane
Tanner as Jellylorum is one of the musical's more
charming scenes and Mills grandly pulls it off
* % with a full dose of emotional empathy.
Ken Pages gives a moving and tender per-
formance as Old Deuteronomy, the father-
like leader of the Jellicle felines. His deep
baritone brings protective reassurance that
there is an unknown being about who
sees and knows all.
The best way to see "Cats" is
within the theater, but since one
can no longer see such sparkling
stars as Page and Mills in live

By Ed Sholinsky
Daily Arts Writer
What's happened to the sitcom?
With the exception of the half-hour
animated comedies, there isn't any-
thing to laugh with on TV, though
there's plenty to laugh at. Now that
"Seinfeld" has departed the air-
waves, will TV audiences have no
reason to laugh?
CBS - the network your grand-
parents watch - has tried to resur-
rect the sitcom and Ted Danson's
career with "Becker." Too bad the
show's drivel, just like every other
network sitcom littering the boob
Danson, whose career has been
hurting since the end of "Cheers,"
attempts his second TV comeback
(the first being "Ink") playing the
title role John Becker, a character
that fits the TV cliche for the man
with a gruff exterior and a heart of
gold. The only catch here is Becker
is a doctor who works with the poor
in a racially
diverse, urban
c l i n i c .
Becker Becker is a
brilliant doc-
tor, and
cBs always seems
Tonight at 9:30 p.m. to be right, no
matter whom
he offends.
- - He hands
C 3 out insults all
around. In just
the half-hour
pilot, there
were white trash, handicap, fat,
immigrant, homeless and women
jokes. This could be fine, had the
material been funny and handled
tastefully. But since Becker is the
star and always right, the show's
writers seem to be agreeing with
him. So the message one can take
away from Becker is it's ok to be a
bigoted, upper-middle class, white
American male.
Often, "Becker'"s jokes come in
the form of rants that Becker per-
forms any time he comes into a
room. Well, Danson is no Dennis
Miller, and his tirades come across
as idiotic. Honestly, how many peo-
ple come into a room and instantly
spout to strangers about what they
see wrong with the world?

In the first scene, he comes into a
diner that he haunts when not inspi-
rationally healing patients, and bick-
ers about daytime talk shows. When
going off on Jerry Springer, Becker
lets fly with: "White trash: The only
resource this country will never run
out of!"
Part of the problem is that
"Becker" never tries to be different.
It relies on conventions and trite sit-
uations to drive the humor. Even
when "Becker" has the chance to
stretch its legs and step into bold
new territory, it quickly does a 180
degree turn and is right back onto
safe ground. "Becker" really took a
chance when it introduced a 7-year-
old boy with AIDS. Becker knows
the boy is losing the battle as his T-
cell count plummets. Nevertheless,
the show's creators manage to turn
the subplot into a situation where
they can use stale jokes and show
off Becker's heart of gold.
The rest of this first show tries to
derive its humor from Becker's
interactions with the show's sup-
porting cast. Like the rest of the
show, these characters have a been
there, done that feel to them. First is
Becker's nurse, Margaret, who is a
no-nonsense, yet sassy, African
Americanw woman. Linda,
Margaret's new nurses' aide, has a
nipple ring, and gets on Becker's
Outside of the office, Becker
hangs out in a diner owned by the
beautiful Reggie (Terry Farrell).
Farrell is probably wishing right
about now that she still had her job
on "Star Trek: Deep Space 9." Stuck
in a do-nothing role, Farrell appro-
priately does nothing. Of course, her
relationship with Becker is adver-
sarial, as she's rightly offended by
his churlish behavior. It'stno sur-
prise, however, that the two P're
incredibly sexually attracted to each
other, despite the hostility, and will
eventually end up in bed together.
Perhaps what makes "Becker" so
vile is that it's so common. For the
most part it's no worse than most of
the crap on TV. This would make
"Becker" a symptom of a larger dis-
ease rather than the problem. But
maybe, just maybe, there are no
symptoms of a larger malady, just a
lot of little viruses infecting our TVs.
"Becker" is one of these pathologies.




to the spectacle of today's Broadway
musicals, "Cats" looks nice, but the
plot isn't that captivating. No, it's

Courtesy of Great Performances
"Cats,"the longest-running Broadway show, makes its world television premiere tonight.

performance, the television pro-
duction will have to do. And it
does - quite purr-fectly.

ICP and Gwar give Devil's Night madness


By Curtis Zimmermann
Daily Arts Writer
'here is a certain irony to the fact
that the Insane Clown Posse and
Gwar played on Devils Night. Despite
efforts of the Angels Night crews to
curtail the mayhem in Detroit, inside
Harpo's it was pure hell.
The scene at the show was some-
thing out of a strange horror movie.
Much like the
Kiss' Army of
yesteryear, hun-
dreds of kids and
Insane CloWn adults alike
POSSe showed up cov-
Harpo's, Detroit ered in black,
Oct. 30, 1998 white and orange
clown makeup.
Even before the
first act took the
stage, hundreds
had there fists
raised in the air
screaming "ICP."
Midwestern "Gangsta" rappers
Twiztid opened the show. Its set,
which only listed 15 minutes, was
quite appealing. Songs about smok-
ing weed and "gangbanging" showed
that East Coast and West Coast aren't
the only places from where this stuff

Gwar's show was like something
out of a strange Off-Broadway play.
Before the band came out, a door,
covered with the words "White House
Service Entrance," was placed in the
front of the stage. A woman dressed
as Monica Lewinsky appeared with
large latex breasts and begged to be
let in. A Bill Clinton look-alike then
emerged carrying a large plastic phal-
lus that Lewinsky caressed as it
spewed over the crowd. Band mem-
bers hacked and dismembered the two
while gallons of fake blood squirted
over the audience.
Throughout its set, Gwar dismem-
bered many famous celebrity look-
alikes who were pulled out of a large
talking toilet. Marilyn Manson and
Elvis both met the same fate as
Lewinsky and Clinton while Princess
Diana was gang raped than chopped
into pieces. Other high points includ-
ed the now legendary "Crap-a-pult,"
that launched 'pounds of hopefully
fake feces into the pit.
Its music was a mix of modern and
old-school metal sounding like Black
Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Kiss. But
despite its efforts Gwar was met with
an unruly crowd who kept booing and
flipping them off. At one point lead

singer Oderous Ungerous asked the
crowd to get more violent. For Gwar,
a band whose trademark is for fans to
boo the opening act, it was quite hum-
Following Gwar's set, ICP took
nearly an hour to start. During this
time, fans got so rambunctious they
began climbing onstage, grabbing
bottles of Faygo until they were
kicked off. Finally Violent J emerged
and began the set with "Dead
Pumpkins." Soon after, his partner,
Shaggy 2 Dope, came out with an
entourage of clown henchman who
began dumping liters and buckets as
well as hosing the crowd with Faygo.
Tons of fans hopped onstage - most
were tossed off immediately, but oth-
ers managed to grab a few bottles and
dove off. Some got plastic bottles
thrown at them while one female fan
was hoisted over Violent J's head
who tossed her back into the pit.
Unlucky ones in the crowd who were
knocked unconscious had to be
dragged out by their friends since
security seemed nowhere to be found.
In its set ICP mostly played songs
from its breakthrough album "The
Great Milenko" and the recently
released "Forgotten Freshness." These
songs have become anthems for their

legions of fans who sang every word
to songs like "House of Horrors,"
"Santa's a Fat Bitch" and the now
classic "Chicken Huntin."' Its lyrics
are perhaps some of the most original
in rap music today. The band's songs
about 'The Dark Carnival,' violence,
sex, Faygo and 'Juggalo's' all manage
to find rhyme schemes that don't seem
to exist but work rather well in the
hard-core context.
To close out its set, the band
brought Twiztid back out on stage and
began letting fans hoard the stage, an
ending that completes every one of its
Hollowicked Shows. Before exiting,
Violent J reminded fans to "drink
before you drive."
In the five years since Detroit-
natives ICP started playing annual
Halloween shows, it has gone from
a relatively unknown local group to
one of the biggest touring acts in the
country. It has also gone from being
small-time cage wrestlers to the
scourge of the WWF. But what real-
ly showcased how far ICP has come
was the fact that it went head to head
with Gwar, one of the greatest the-
atrical rock bands, and gave a show
that was wilder, messier and more
entertaining. Now that's an accom-

" #s
,. #



A mayor who has been a strong
advocate for safety for all members
of the Ann Arbor community.
"Sheldon has gone out of her way to improve safety for University
students who live in the city's neighborhoods. During her tenure as
mayor, Sheldon approached the University and suggested that the city
and the school share lighting costs for off-campus housing areas.
When the University chose not to take part in the project, Sheldon
took matters into her own hands and had the city pay for the lighting.
Before implementation, however, she walked around the area with
students to determine where lighting would be most effective. This
type of hands-on leadership offsets Sheldon's calm style well."
-- Michigan Daily Editorial, 11-1-98

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