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November 15, 1999 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-15

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Seamus Heaney lectures at Rackham Ampitheatre. The Nobel
laureate presents "Getting the Picture: Reflections on Art and
Artists in Ireland." 5 p.m.

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Tomorrow in Daily Arts:
Check out Breaking Records with reviews of the new Korn
and A Tribe Called Quest albums
November 15, 1999

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By Curtis Zimmermann
Daily Arts Writer
During the encore of her show
Thursday night at Hill Auditorium,
Melissa Etheridge dropped to her knees,
raised the neck of her guitar to the sky

and cranked out a
Hill Auditorium
Nov. 11, 1999

brilliant solo. If Jimi
Hendrix was look-
ing down on Ann
Arbor, he would
have been proud.
With her perfor-
mance she paid
tribute to the
sounds that have
defined popular
music for the last
50 years and in
doing so demon-
strated that she is
true rock royalty.
Etheridge, now
11 years into her

hands and screaming her name.
But it was Etheridge's music that
solidified this rock 'n' roll aesthetic. In
her sound she pays homage to and occa-
sionally quotes the Who, the Beatles and
Bruce Springsteen blending it with just a
touch of Waylon and Willie style coun-
try. Also, Drummer Kenny Arnoff's
abilities and manner of play draw imme-
diate comparisons to the likes of John
Bonham and Ginger Baker.
The real strength in Etheridge's sound
is her brilliantly penned lyrics.
Occasionally in true "Storytellers" fash-
ion she took some time out to explain the
meaning behind some of her songs.
Often she pointed out how the depress-
ing emotional elements of one song were
balanced in her mind with the upbeat
nature of others.
Perhaps the most brilliant point in
the show was when it came to a
screeching halt and Etheridge sat alone
on a couch at center stage. This extend- Melissa Etheridge s
ed "pit session" demonstrated her abil-
ity to transcend genres in a menner began to gener
resembling James Taylor's style of folk amount of energyc
rock. During this segment, her band second-to-last n
slowly began joining her on acoustic anthem, "Am II
renditions of old and new material became a 15-mi
including the title track to her 1993 marked by a stunn
smash "Yes I Am." solo and her raspy
After plugging back in, the music ing vocal barrage.

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Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
tatalle Portman and Susan Sarandon shop in "Anywhere But Here."
Bland 'Anywhere'
For"es message

major label recording career, is touring
in support of her sixth album,
"Breakdown." The massive amount of
material gave her artistic and musical
freedom with her nearly three-hour set.
The show took on an atmosphere of a
'70s rock concert. Once she came on
stage the rambunctious, mostly female
crowd, which remained standing for
most of the evening, kept raising their

rate a tremendous
culminating with the
number the rock
the Only One." It
inute jam session
ing "Free Bird" style
Janis Joplin-emulat-

Lately, it appears as though the best
rockers are either in their fifties or have
only one great album. Considering that
she is now in her second decade of her
recording career and shows no signs of
slowing up, Melissa Etheridge has def-
initely earned a reputation as one of the
world's premiere rock 'n' roll masters.

t k
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DdANsLIk ' oPnhJe mlaI
summoned Images of '70s rock 'n' roillIn her performance.

Opera Theater presents beautiful 'Susannah'

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By Laura Flyer
Daily Arts Writer
"Anywhere But Here" is anything
b$ood. And it's not because, up
front, it presents typical mother-
daughter adolescence crises that irrev-
ocably shoves it into the "chick flick"
category, risking infection from the
horrid disease films of this genre
often contract, known as "sap." No,
actually, all it takes is Natalie
Portman's sulking character to feel the

strain of my eyes
But Here
At Biarwood, Quality
s6 and Showcase

consistently rolling
to the back of my
head every five
S u s a n
Sarandon is
Adele August,
mother of Ann
(Portman) and
kidnapper of her
daughter's soul
(how utterly
deep), which
belongs to the
small town they
once lived in in
Wisconsin. Now.


exchanges between daughter and
mother. Adele flaunts her insecurities
and displays such cheeriness that it
goes beyond her realm of personality.
The same goes for Ann who mopes to
the extreme.
So, director Wayne Wang really
wimps out this time. Messages from
movies cannot be forced down our
throats; we have to taste it, interpret
its quality of flavor ourselves and then
digest it. Wang wants us to get the
message before showing us the action.
And he should know something about
how this works, due to his successful
presentations of familial conflicts,
such as the one between mother and
daughter in the movie "The Joy Luck
Club," and a decade earlier with the
father-son relationship in "Eat a Bowl
of Tea." "Smoke," another intelligent
film of his, also touched upon family
Perhaps he should have looked clos-
er at recent film with a similar take,
"The Slums of Beverly Hills." Though
the focus here is much more light-
hearted, it made.the progression of a
father-daughter relationship much
more realistic and insightful than
"Anywhere But Here." And Wang
wasn't looking for all seriousness
either. He tries to lighten up a bit, as in
one exchange between Ann and
Adele. Ann fearsbthe first day at her
new high school, when she sulkingly
comments about the tan and barely-
clothed girls milling around outside.
Her mother replies, "The smart ones
are inside" This is about as funny as it
gets, folks.
Wang forces more undigestibles
down our throats, and it almost feels
like he's out for manipulative
vengeance. Besides the stream of Lisa
Loeb songs, Sarah McLachlan steps
in with her oh-so-moving song, "1
Will Remember You." Wang goes one
notch further in the film: It happens to
be sung by a mournful choir during a
funeral. Gag me with a spoon.
Natalie Portman may have the
charm and the looks to make
"Anywhere But Here" move fast
enough, but not nearly enough to
remove the feeling at the movie the-
ater of wanting to be anywhere but

By Christopher Vaczyk
Daily Arts Writer
When speaking of the back woods of Tennessee,
"regal" and "refined" are rarely put to use. But that's
exactly what was on the opening night of Carlisle
Floyd's "Susannah" by the University's Opera Theater.
An intelligent cast highlighted the intricacies of Floyd's
score and libretto, shedding light on the human condi-
tion where darkness often reigns.
"Susannah" is Floyd's 1956 retelling of the
Apocryphal tale of Susanna. When Susannah is caught

Power Center
Nov. 11, 1999

_ '1

bathing nude in a nearby stream,
she is accused of immorality by
the town elders of New Hope
Valley, Tennessee. When new
preacher Olin Blitch comes to
town, he is made aware of
Susannah's indiscretions, but
becomes inspired by her beauty.
When Blitch's affection for
Susannah turns to active sin, he
sees a new light and tries to
defend her honor to the town,
which has no interest in hearing
him. After learning of Blitch's
affair, Susannah's brother Sam
sets out with his shotgun to find

Bass Matthew Carroll served up a powerful sermon
of talent as Olin Blitch. His resonant purities deepened
the harshness of his character and drew out the best of
both sides. It was hard to make a villain out of Carroll's
Blitch because his call for redemption, like Carroll's
performance, was heartfelt and sincere. Carroll's per-
formance during the prayer meeting gave new meaning
to the character.
Brian Pfaltzgraff's appearances as Sam were all
appreciated and memorable and made a comfortable
companion and brother to Larson; Susannah.
The cast sang and spoke with perfect pronunciation.
Andrew Foster's performance as Little Bat, Susannah's
only friend, defined the word "character:' He was a
shining light in Thursday night's deep sky of stars. As a
young man torn between friendship, infatuation, family
duty and religious inspiration, Little Bat is a tough role
for any actor to portray. Foster culled all of these char-
acteristics into one solid, outstanding performance.
The evening's comedic highlight can be attributed to
Carolyn Kahl, who portrayed the sinister Mrs. McLean,
a society dame responsible for most of Susannah's false
reputation. In addition to her perfected acting skills,
Kahl's singing was refreshing and effective.
"Susannah," an American opera, is sung and spoken
entirely in English. Floyd's score fits perfectly with his
libretto, considering the diction and notes attributed at
each moment. There is no grand vocalizing in
"Susannah," which makes for an easier time on the ear
when attempting to hear each word. "Susannah" is
extremely lyrical, however, and combined with the
supremely tonal score, the opera is magical.
Jeff Bauer's effective set designs made use of wood-
en slats. A slat-board proscenium framed the stage and
slat-board mountains filled the background while slat-
board trees defined the woods. Gary Decker's lighting
made use of the slat effect, and reserved a dark senti-
ment for the lush roots of Susannah's tragedy.


that they have moved to the posh city
of Beverly Hills, Ann cannot, or
rather, refuses to allow herself to
djust to her new surroundings. She
misses her small-town home life, her
est friend Mary (Thora Birch), her
cousin Benny (Shawn Hatosy) and the
supposed platonic relationship she
wgith each of them (though some
scenes quite pathetically and point-
lessly suggested more-than-friendly
Her biggest issue is in learning to
cope with her near-neurotic mother
who is deluded by the wealthy image
of Hollywood, and who drives herself
razy trying to achieve upward mobil-
ty without actually working too hard
or- it. She also wants Ann to be a
-Iwood movie star. Ann more
:han' protests her mother's idiosyn-
:rasies -- she sulks, whines, moans,
:ries and glares. The sarcasm that is
Nso included in her personality could
ave saved some of this film, had it
ot been for the fact that its content is
either witty nor funny.
Basically, the entire movie consti-
:utes a series of bland and repetitive

. ,

him. In the end, Susannah is still the innocent woman,
but has suffered to maintain her dignity.
Director Joshua Major realized the technicalities of
the drama, and organized a delightful staging. Giving
20-odd voices something to do other than stand and
sing is a challenge, and Major pulled it off without an
error or hindrance.
The true star of "Susannah" was the 22-piece orches-
tra, led by Professor Kenneth Kiesler. Their rendering
of Floyd's magnificent score supremely supported the
talented cast of singers and actors.

courtesy of University Opera Theater
Jennifer Larson plays the title role in "Susannah."
Jennifer Larson presented a beautiful Susannah in
both voice and character. Her handling of the popular
aria "Ain't it a pretty night?" was an obvious angel in
the dark life of Tennessee. It is a perfect song to char-
acterize Susannah, who finds nothing but the best of
everyone and everything. She, the wrong target for the
town's frustrations, turns the story into a supreme dra-
matic tragedy.
Larson's second act aria, "Trees on the Mountain"
was just as compelling. The song is the last moment of
Susannah's virgin innocence before Blitch has his way
with her.

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