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October 23, 2001 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-10-23

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Keeping the spirit alive...
Judy Shepard, the mother of the slain Matthew
Shepard, will lecture on human rights and pro-
motion of understanding gay issues. 7 p.m. at
EMU, McKenny Union Ballroom. Free.
michigandaily.com /arts

Mxichgan I aU

TUESDAY
OCTOBER 23, 200 1 8

They Might
Be Giants
step into town
By Luke Smith
Daily Music Editor
They might have formed nearly 20 years in the past, and
dropped their eponymous debut on the quirk'd-out irony
hungry masses 15 years ago, but Johns Flansburgh and Lin-
nell have been friends damn near
---::::since they were on a toddler "hiway"
together. Nearly forever and a day
since they met in Lincoln Massachu-
They setts, They Might Be Giants are still
Might Be rocking. "It's no crisis to rock a
Giants crowd," said TMBG frontman John
Flansburgh as he dished with The
Michigan Theater Michigan Daily about the Giants' new
Tonight at 7:30 p.m. record and tour, which hits the Michi-
gan Theater tonight.
After a shaky start to their fall tour,
(the dynamic duo was due to launch
their tour the day of the WTC attacks)
They Might Be Giants drove cars car-
avan-style across the country to meet
up with their truckload of gear and the
shows had to go on. They caught up
with their tour bus in Lincoln, Neb.
aid bussed to San Francisco to catch up and continue the
rest of the tour.
The tour has been an obvious distraction to the Giants,
who reside in New York City, "It's been really heartening
and exciting for us, it sort of let us get back into the mix of
things in a very natural way," said Flansburgh. He has
reaped a certain amount of therapy from They Might Be
Giants' recent live shows, especially in light of the recent
tragedy.
"I think there's something very celebratory about our
shows, and our audiences always come with.an extraordi-
nary amount of energy for what we do," said Flansburgh.
What the Giants do is craft smatt-alecky musical confec-
tions, sometimes lathered with irony and sometimes bub-
bling and brimming with pop's sensibilities. Underneath the
music's surface is a synthetic and synthesized sound, a
sound that has found a home in their frenetic fan base. The
group has enjoyed a cult following since their inception and
despite the overwhelming tragedy looming over the launch
of the tour, have still enjoyed crowds pulsing with energy.
They Might Be Giants' latest tour is in support of their
recent effort, Mink Car. The band reunited with the produc-
ers of their near-commercial breakthrough (1990's Flood),
Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. There wasn't any nostal-
gia behind the controls during the Mink Car sessions how-
ever, "When we first worked with them, we'd never worked
in real studios," said Flansburgh, "I think this tirme we met
more as peers."

'BLAST!' brings a celebration
of movement, music to Fox

By Elizabeth Manasse
Daily Arts Writer

C.ourtof 1WE-/lektraEtertainmnt.
They Might be Giants deliver what the fans want.
The difference in production is different this time around,
with Langer and Winstanley's pop sensibilities blending in
with the Giants' unique brand of collegiate post-punk (a
synth driven accessible collage of genres wound behind
sing-a-long melodies) and reminding them just how good
they sound with a full band behind them. Mink Car runs the
musical gamut, (as does their back-catalog) from the
straight ahead pop of "Bangs" to the euro-pop New Order
nod in "Man, It's So Loud in Here."
With a host of LPs and a full compliment of EPs, They.
Might Be Giants aren't in danger of running out of material
after 40 minutes, and fans don't have to worry about only
hearing the latest tracks from the band; they will also play
their greatest, "I think we have a different relationship with
our catalog in that I don't think we feel the kind of alien-
ation from our music that bands that become mega-success-
ful do," Flansburgh said. The Giants are in tune to what
their fans want, and Flansburgh said those fans seeking nos-
talgic tidbits of rock will not be disappointed: "We play
'She's an Angel' almost every night and it's always, (speak-
ing of people who are part of the nostalgia crew) the num-
ber-one nostalgia song for them."
Not to put too fine a point on it, They Might Be Giants
are quietly an incredible success story, a modern-day fairy
tale about two boys who met over a sandbox, traded their
plastic pails and shovels for guitars and synthesizers and
proceeded to dial the knobs firmly to "rock" as time turned.
Now, years later their aim and creed to fans remains the
same, "We look forward to rocking you" Flansburgh said.
Indeed.

BLAST! is the American contribu-
tion to the music-in-motion move-
ment pioneered by Stomp and
Riverdance. As the winner of the
2001 Tony Award for Best Theatrical
Event, BLAST! opens at Detroit's
Fox Theater tonight and continues
through Sunday. The show is return-
ing to the Fox Theater on its extensive
open-ended tour of North America.
BLAST! is a celebration of move-
ment and music.
p e r fo r ma n c e
blends brass and
BLAST! percussion with
Fox Theater dramatic chore-
ography, bril-
Through October 28 liant lighting
and .special
effects to create
a new genre of
performance.
The performers
dance, twirl and toss objects and
props in a precisely synchronized
counterpoint to the music. Jim
Mason, artistic director, describes
BLAST! as "almost like a 'Dis-
neyesque' animation, only the anima-
tion comes to life with real people
playing the music and interpreting it
visually." ,
Drawn from classical, symphonic,
Broadway, world and popular compo-
sitions., the brass music includes
Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" and other
works by Aaron Copland, Samuel
Barber and Don Ellis.
According to Mason, he chose to
combine music and movement in a
theatrical performance because "it's
difficult to imagine music without
motion." The synergy between these
two art forms is what makes BLAST!
wonderful and putting them together
in a theatrical setting puts it over the
top."
BLAST! uses a novel art form
evolved from the showmanship of

outdoor pageantry. The genre evolved
from the drum corps Star of Indiana,
which was founded in 1984 in Bloom-
ington, hid. to benefit young people
in music education. Mason, the
founding director of Star of Indiana,
is a lifelong veteran of drum and
bugle corps and other musical activi-
ties.
Since its birth, Star of Indiana
improved each year until it became
the world champion drum corp in
1991. Star's performances revolution-
ized the world of drum corps, bring-
ing an ever more sophisticated sense
of musicianship, exciting showman-
ship and dynamic choreography to
the genre of outdoor pageantry.
Since 1993, Mason has been shap-
ing the evolution of Star of Indiana
from a competitive 1 28-member
drum corps, to a theatrical show
which brings the power, passion and
precision of outdoor pageantry to the
stage in a musical performance.
BLAST?'s touring group consists
of 48 dancers, singers and musicians
largely in their early-20s, drawn from
the world of outdoor pageantry all

across North America. There are over
40 world titles held by BLAST! cast
members who comprise the three sec-
tions, which include the brass, per-
cussion and visual ensembles. In fact,
the average cast member was 11-
years-old when they first began learn-
ing the primary role that they perform
with BLAST!.
The physical and musical demands
of the production require that the per-
formers be highly trained athletes as
well as world-class musicians.
Rehearsing through heat, cold, dust
and rain, they produce thrilling perfor-
mances where athleticism, musical
talent, movement and showmanship
merge into an art form that is both
compelling and entertaining. The
brass players, even those carrying the
heaviest instruments, move like
dan6-rs. The visual ensemble not only
dances, but twirls, throws and catches
flags, light sticks, batons and sabers.
For more information call the
Olympia Entertainment event hotline
at (313) 471-6611, or visit the
Olympia Entertainment Web site,
OlympiaEntertainment.com.

Courtesy- o
Forget the tree ... be a blade of grass ... and remember to breathe.

True explores government
censorship during the '30s

4

By Christine Lasek
For the Daily
Playing now through Nov. 18, the Performance Net-
work will be astonishing audiences with Michigan's
premiere of "It's All True," by Canadian playwright
Jason Sherman.
"It's All True" is a biographical account of the "Cra-
dle Will Rock" scandal of 1937, in which the govern-
ment attempted to close a
controversial production written by
Marc Blitzstein (David Wolber)
and headed by the team of Orson
It's All Welles (Travis Reiff) and John
True 'Houseman (Andy Huff). With a
backdrop of the steel strike, one
PerformanceNetwor theatre company is made to under-
Through November 18 stand the true meaning of sacrifice
in light of the fact that the show
must go on.
The set of "It's All True" was
modest yet effective. Consisting of
a platform, strategically placed
doors and a back wall to enclose
the acting space, the audience was
allowed to focus on the performance of the actors and
was not distracted with an overly elaborate set.
The play itself calls for several different scenes,
involving shifts in both the physical and time setting.
Instead of relying on traditional methods of illustrating
these changes in scene (manipulation of the set, for
example), The Performance Network instead relied on a
sensational lighting plot to suggest such changes.
Reiff gave a powerful performance as Orson Welles,
the actor, director and radio personality. As well as
directing the controversial musical, Welles' precarious-
ly constructed life is slowly unraveling one thread at a
time. In order to compensate for his uncertainty,
Welles' character was overly boisterous. Reiff rose to
the challenge of his character's dual nature; he was

relentlessly energetic from the moment the lights went
up on stage.
The two female leads, Carla Milarch and Chrisstina
Hamilton had their work cut out for them, as they were
both cast in two roles. As novice actress Olive Stanton
and deceased Eva Goldbeck (lover of Marc Blitzstein),
Milarch convincingly portrayed two polar opposite
women.
Hamilton's roles, as well as being two very different
characters, often had to be played in quick succession,
sometimes with only seconds between exits and
entrances. Although there was little costume change
between characters, precise character development on
the part of the actresses kept the duel casting from con-
fusion.
These, however, are just some of the highlights. The
truth is, there were no weak performances in "It's All
True." The combination of a well-written script and tal-
ented actors set the stage for a wonderful production.

Courtesy of Daniel C.Walker/Performance Network
Blitzstein (David Wolber), Eva (Carla Milarch) and Welles
(Travis Reiff) contemplate a whole new world.

,

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