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November 16, 1999 - Image 9

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or

Take a chance with open mic nights. The Ark features Cliff
:Eberhardt and Liz Queler at 8 p.m. with "Take a Chance Tuesday,"
and the Blind Pig showcases Duress, Ocean Sol, Adrenaline 31
and He Whom? at their advance-booked open mic at 10 p.m. If
singing is more appealing, check out Conor O'Neill's traditional
Trish open mic at 9 p.m.

Ulie £tdrm atg

Tomorrow in Daily Arts:
. Read Daily Arts for an interview with Eliza Minot, the
author of "The Tiny One," before she reads at Borders BooKS
& Music at 7:30 p.m.

A

Tuesday
November 19, 1999

9

Emotional

'U' to blow out century
with millenium 'Tempest'

Light It Up'
raises issues
r Joshua Pderson
'Dily Arts Writer
An open letter in defense of the artist formerly known sole-
1y as Usher: An hour before attending a screening of "Light It
jUp;' I attempted to recruit friends to accompany me to the
movie theater. I opened with a rough synopsis of the film.
Sbmmoning up my well-honed powers of persuasive descrip-
ion, I spoke of an altercation in a very poorly maintained inner
school leads to an unfortunate hostage situation that brings
to the fore issues of education, abuse, poverty and race.
"Sounds interesting," my friends said, one by one. "Who's
in it?"
"Let's see, there's Forest Whitaker" I said.
"Wow, who else?"

Light It
Up
Briarwood, Quality
16 and Showcase
r.
moo

"Well, you remember that one girl
from 'Roseanne?"'
Only slightly daunted, they nodded in
attenuated assent. "Anyone else that I've
heard of?"
"Cough cough gurgle Usher cough
cough;' I replied quietly.
"What's that you said? Did you say
Usher?" They asked, aghast.
I nodded quietly, knowing that I had
lost once again. I braced myself for the
inevitable excuse.
"I'm really sorry. I've gotta, um,
highlight my hair. Yeah, highlight my
hair. But I'll call you, okay?" Click.
Yes, I'll admit it up front in this

iew. Usher plays the lead in Craig Bolotin's "Light It Up."
has more scenes, more lines and more camera time than
ranyone else in the film. However, flying squarely in the face of
every viewer's preconceived notions concerning his acting tal-
ient, or lack thereof, Usher Raymond gives an admirable and
Ladequate performance. Therefore, don't let his position as
movie headliner deter you from seeing "Light It Up."
"Light It Up" is the story of six teens who are forced to bar-
iricade themselves inside their ramshackle high school by an
,unlucky string of circumstances. Finding themselves the per-
ptrators in a developing hostage situation, they must play the
role into which they have fallen, negotiating with the police,
E ipulating their prisoner and formulating their demands.
iThis rag-tag group of students that are thrown together into an
ainplausible situation end up evoking wide support from the
Vpblic and ultimately changing their situation for the better.
Their actions are illogical and amateurish at best, yet they

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Usher Raymond makes a point in "Light It Up."
are the impetus for a moving response.
This strange situation is actually analogous to the creation of
the film itself. Its movements are often illogical and amateur-
ish as well. However, despite its flaws, it is able to transcend its
situation, proving a worthy vehicle for its message and an emo-
tionally powerful creation. And although this allegorical rela-
tionship is almost surely an unintentional result of the film-
making process, director-writer Craig Bolotin must be given
some credit for his efforts.
Bolotin's effort is a string of pearls held together by a piece
of ragged twine. It is essentially a number of incredibly beau-
tiful and powerful cinematic moments connected by filler.
The filler is painfully obvious through portions of the film.
The script drops to the level of outright clumsiness at times.
The plot is barely believable at best, implausible at worst. The
cast is adequate to the task, but has its moments of weakness.
Despite its flaws, the film's pearls are its memorable ele-
ments. The camera work is strong throughout, showcasing
moments of exceptional clarity and beauty. The film's exami-
nation of pertinent social issues is admirable during its bright-
est segments. The soundtrack is well-chosen and well-utilized.
Taking samples from a number of notable rap and hip-hop
stars, the film is a welcome respite from recent movies whose
only apparent goal is to provide a stage for their featured rap
stars. And the cast provides the audience with some touching
moments from near the heart of the human condition.
The final result of all this meandering is a very emotionally
charged product. "Light It Up," even with Usher and the tan-
gled web that holds it together, is a solid film and a worthwhile
trip to the theater.

By Christopher Tkaczyk
Daily Arts Witer
A storm is a brewin.'
One month ago, cast members of
"The Tempest" met for the very first
read-through of the play. Written by
William Shakespeare in 1611, "The
Tempest" will be the School of
Music's final production of the 20th
Century and will open on Dec. 9 at the
Power Center.
"It is a play about ending and begin-
ning," said Theater Prof. Philip Kerr,
the play's director, who also will por-
tray Prospero.
While the production will chronicle
the end of a century for the
University's School of Music, it will
also serve as a welcoming upstart to a
new era of theater. There's no better
way to approach a new millennium of
theater, Kerr explained, than with a
classic from the father of all English
drama. He intends to see the curtain
rise on a second mounting of the pro-
duction one year from now, with,
hopefully, the same cast.
"We'll attempt to revive it so it will
play in two millennia," Kerr said. "To
the best of my knowledge, it'll be the
first ever production to have played in
two millennia."
The attention to time within "The
Tempest" causes reason for the depart-
ment's handling of the play, Kerr said.
"It gets one thinking about things,
here, at the end of the millennium. It is
a time for assessment of who we are
and where we're going. The same thing
is in "The Tempest."
Apart from the intended second
mounting of the play, its celebratory
air is found also in its casting. "The
Tempest" will feature performers from
all performance areas of the School of
Music, including the departments -of
musical theater, dance, composition,
and vocal arts, as well as the depart-
ment of theater and drama.
Additionally, local Ann Arbor resi-
dents will also contribute to the pro-
duction.
Music Prof. Frank Pahl has been
selected to compose special selections
for the play. His music will be per-
formed by an ensemble of students
from the School of Music.
Theater Profs. John Neville-
Andrews, Erik Fredricksen and Leigh
Woods have been cast in leading roles.
Dance Prof. Peter Sparling is involved
with "The Tempest" as a choreograph-
er and will portray Prospero in a spe-
cial dance number, also featuring
members of the dance department.
Vocal arts Profs. Shirley Verrett and
George Shirley are scheduled to
appear as a Goddess and Adrian,
respectively, offering them opportuni-
ties to lend their well-respected and
known vocal talents.
Visiting Theater Prof. Mark Lamos
has also contributed to the production
as a consultant to Kerr. Lamos visits
the University three weeks every year,
and lectured the cast on the
Shakespearean text during a recent
visit in October. Lamos currently is

JESSICA JOHNSON/Daily
Theater Prof. Philip Kerr presents the set design diorama far December's "The Tempest."

Thelonius Junior grows up

' Arts Wnter
How do you wipe the snot from your
moose and step out of the shadow of a
efther who helped define the music that
you continue to create?
Pianist Thelonious Monk was a key
tfigure on the jazz scene from the early
days of Charlie
Parker's bebop.
* *Nearly all jazz
since has echoed
S T S his peculiar sense
Monk of harmony and
rd of paradise rhythm, as he pro-
r~daf Panadse vided tutelage for
Thursday at 8 and an array of musi-
11. p. cians like Sonny
Rollins, Art
Blakey and John
Coltrane.
Two years ago,
T.S. (who plays
drums and sings)
ed, head on, the legacy of his father.
The ensuing recording, "Monk on
vMonk,"'was an album of songs com-
posed by Monk and interpreted by his
--son's smxtet with an augmentation of
vsome ot today's finest players (Wayne
vShorter,* Ron Carter, Howard Johnson
band Dave Holland to name a few).
Additionally, T.S. is chair of the influ-
-ential Thjelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
v f elpingallay recent cuts in funding for
* arts, The Institute was established in

1986 to provide opportunities for aspir-
ing jazz musicians. T.S. is quick to point
out the organization's commitment to
promoting music more than his father's
memory. "It's always been about pre-
serving jazz;"he said. "The Institute is to
jazz what Thelonious was to jazz...
Thelonious wasn't about Thelonious, so
how would I dare box his influence that
way?"
"Monk on Monk;' in particular, pro-
vided T.S. a sort of resolution to dealing
with his father's eminence. "(After
"Monk on Monk;') people said, 'yeah,
he's TS. Monk.' And that's very very
nice and a relief ... now it's probably
time to do what (I) do best and let the
chips fall as they may,' he said.
And his sextet's latest effort,
"Crosstalk;' has made good on his
promise for individualism, carrying a
stronger pop sensibility that harkens back
to his early days in the R&B business.
A few songs begin by forming a
rhythmically repetitive accompaniment
figure into a palette from which a funky
melody and improvisations are drawn.
This focus on catchy melodic quips amid
snazzy percussive backbeats and stan-
dard soloing tempts comparisons to
fusion. But T.S. is too seasoned a band-
leader to allow his music to become
overly bogged down by the saccharine
strains and vapid harmonics implied by
this allegory. ,
"The basic elements ofjazz are pretty

obvious,"he said, "Great improvisations,
substantial compositions with haunting
melodies; there's great grooves... the key
element is 'great.'"
Take the vocal duet between Monk
and guest Patricia Barber on "Just a
Little Lovin'." Although it may be diffi-
cult for some listeners to hear past the
fact that, on the surface, the song sounds
like the dewy-eyed love theme from a
forgettable TV movie of the week, those
who do will be rewarded with the gen-
uine affinity between the two voices and
the subdued chaffs of Don Sickler's mir-
roring fluegelhorn.
Such becoming arrangements are the
highlight of "Crosstalk"and can be large-
ly contributed to the pen of Sickler, who
charted over half of the album's tunes. Yet
Monk insists that between his own musi-
cal concepts and the ideas of the other
,bandmembers, Sickler's work for the sex-
tet finds an unusual flare. "What you end
up with is actually a bit different than
what he usually does; my records certain-
ly have a different sound; it's always been
a lot more of a team thing."
Monk described his approach to
"Crosstalk" as producing, "a stream of
singles that add up to a concept." None
of the album's compositions are much
longer than six minutes and audience
members can expect efficient perfor-
mances as the ensemble attempts to
invoke a day in jazz when, "guys didn't
need 14-minute solos to make a point.'

busy with rehearsals for the world pre-
miere of "The Great Gatsby" at the
Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The large cast of 26 will also feature
students of the same departments. The
role of Ariel, an androgynous magical
sprite usually portrayed by a male, will
be played by Music sophomore
Margaret Smith.
"Ariel is obviously magic," Kerr said.
"Prospero is also a magician. Art is the
magic he's practicing. Ariel stands for
the mysterious relationship between art
and life. He/She is a muse for the part of
the body which is being an artist."
"The Tempest" is the surreal story of
Prospero the magician, the rightful
Duke of Milan who is exiled upon a
tropical Island with daughter Miranda.
When a naval ship wrecks during a
tempest, Ferdinand, son of the King of
Naples, finds himself also stranded
upon the island as a love interest for
Miranda. Caliban, a beast of a man and
Prospero's inhuman foe, rears his ugly
head and makes matters worse and
comedic, all while Prospero learns to
accept life's fate and age and the loss
of a daughter to another man. Ariel
figures as Prospero's magical sidekick,
performing sprightly duties.
Although the location of Prospero's
island is unnamed, Shakespeare's
inspiration for "The Tempest" came
from a shipwreck in the Bermuda
Islands that was covered in many of
the London newspapers at the time.
Additionally, it is believed by
Shakespearean scholars that the New
World was also an inspiration. Life on

an island like that of Prospero's recalls
a colonial attitude, a hot political topic
in all of Europe before, during and
after Shakespeare's lifetime. In the
early 17th Century, the New World
was seen as offering the idea of new
opportunity, much like the fervor and
excitement surrounding the approach-
ing millennium.
The occasion of the first reading
also served as a design presentation, in
which design students of the depart-
ment of theater and drama revealed
Theater Prof. Rob Murphy's miniature
diorama of the intended set design.
Murphy's vision, created under the
eyes of Kerr, is a futuristic panorama
of light and sensual detail. A laser
light show will be implemented during
the performance, offering a technolog-
ically advanced interpretation of the
classic Shakespearean text, which
highlights the differences between
reality and illusion.
"What he's given us is a piece of
sculpture;' Kerr said of the design. "It
is highly artistic and daring."
The set design features a raked
floor, meaning that the floor tilts from
the rear of the stage to the audience.
Mounds and hills will also dot the
stage. "The Tempest" is set upon an
island, offering a load of possibilities
for the production.
This is the first article in a series
about "The Tempest." Tickets for
"The Tempest" are available at the
League Ticket Office for $7 with a
student ID. Call (734) 764-0450 for
more information.

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