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March 19, 2003 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-19

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Wednetday
March 19, 2003
michigandaily.com
mae@michigandaily.com

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Courtesy of ABC
Whateva,
whateva, I
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want! I hate
you guys.
*ABC moves forward
with its newest 'Girl'

By Douglas Wernert
Daily Arts Writer

TV REVIEW **I
ABC's new show "All-American
Girl" can easily be understood by fol-
lowing a simple formula: Take the Miss
America pageant and kick it up a notch.
Throw in a former Spice Girl, a charis-
matic show _____________
host/former bas-
ketball player and All American
a talent executive Girl
to serve as coaches Wednesdays at
for the women, and 9 p.m.
you have the latest ABC
attention-grabbing
attempt by the alphabet network that
thought "Are You Hot?" was actually a
good idea. This program, however, is an
improvement over some of its past
attempts. By combining a decent con-
cept with some interesting characters,
you have a show that's not totally
worthless for a change.
Basically, the show seeks to find the
most well-rounded woman in America.
The "All-American Girl" has to com-
bine beauty with intelligence, athletic
ability, personality and talent in per-
forming. To do this, the 20-somethings
are subject to a series of challenges to
narrow down the field.
In the first episode, 45 women vied
for a spot on three teams, each coached
by one of the celebrities. Then, in the
performance skills round, the girls

showcased their abilities in singing,
dancing, gymnastics or, in the case of
one girl, a horrible impression of
Michael Jackson. After eliminating 21
contestants, the girls did a choreo-
graphed dance, took tests and told sto-
ries about their lives. Not only was the
audience at home (who will eventually
decide the winner) given a chance to
know these women, it also allowed the
judges to select the best of the best.
The judges are an interesting bunch.
Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell,
whose British accent brings up memo-
ries of Simon from "American Idol,"
joins John Salley ("The Best Damn
Sports Show Period") and Suzanne
Depasse, the former president of
Motown Productions. The judges bick-
er over each other's personalities and
one at home can tell that a friendly
rivalry will develop between the judges
in the weeks to come, another aspect
that may keep audiences intrigued.
"All-American Girl"'isn't the best
reality show to appear on the spring
schedule, but it's far from the worst (if
you don't believe that, watch "Married
by America"). With the ability to learn
about the women and witness the train-
ing process, this show offers more than
a bikini contest and a tired spiel about
"making the world a better place."
When you consider the fact that total
strangers aren't getting married here,
this program is worth a look. As Geri
Halliwell would sing, it just might
"Spice Up Your Life."

"The Secret Garden" begins in
India where we meet Mary Lennox
and her parents. Unfortunately,
Mary's parents both catch and die
from Cholera,
forcing Mary to
go live with her The Secret
uncle. Mary's Garden
u n c 1 e , At the Power Center
Archibald, is Friday=Saturdayat
also suffering 8 p.m. and Sunday
from the sor- at2p.m.
row of loss. His $8 St3Auts
wife Lilly died
in childbirth, MUSKET
and Archibald
copes by secluding himself from
society. This sets up the basis of
the story, which includes Mary
trying to find a home and

Archibald trying to reconcile the
death of his wife.
During her wanderings around
her uncle's mansion, Mary finds a
key to a garden. Once stepping
foot into and falling in love with
the secret, walled garden, Mary
resolves to bring the garden back
to life. With the help of her two,
newfound friends, she sets about
accomplishing this task.
Adding to the play's plot line is
the interplay between both living
and deceased characters. Several
ghosts haunt the Craven mansion.
In order to keep the living and the
dead straight, the ghosts live
behind a scrim that serves as the
veil between worlds. Throughout
the play, the question of, what is

living, interweaves itself amidst
the action, as the ghosts seem to
be more alive than the characters
who are still breathing.
Director Meghan Randolph
comments, "I don't think you can
ask for better symbolism than a
garden," and in the way that this
play has come together, nothing
could be more true. Like the tan-
gled mesh of weeds that Mary saw
potential in, Randolph saw the
buds of a great production in the
cast and crew, and in her own
words, "I got really lucky. I think
we have a really strong show."
Now, as the fruits of Randolph's
and the entire companies efforts
are finally paying off, the excite-
ment for opening night is in full

bloom. According to Randolph,
the music is gorgeous, and the
amount of touching, emotional
scenes are innumerable. She con-
fided in her belief that the audi-
ence "won't be able to help
themselves from enjoying the joy
that the actors have."
Speaking from the "on stage"
perspective, actor Mark VanKem-
pen offered his views on the show
as well. He echoed Randolph's
sentiments in saying, "I think the
audience will be moved by a lot of
the songs." He specifically men-
tioned the song "Winter's on the
Wing" as one of his favorites
because it is "appropriate for this
season." It talks of "winter being
banished by the sun."

Handel's 'Xerxes' a fine comedic opera

By Melissa Runstrom
Daily Arts Writer

FNE ARTs P REVIEW
An exotic pet tree and an odd love triangle are
some of the many elements in George Frideric
Handel's "Xerxes." It is a comic, theatrical opera
written in 1738 about love and our responses to
it. Even though "Xerxes" has been around for
some time, it still holds the interests of audiences
today. The story, originally about the ancient
Persian king Xerxes.' life and relationships. This

V

By Graham Kelly
Daily Arts Writer
Music REVIEW ***I
Budapest gives the listener a
refreshing opportunity with their
debut album Too Blind To Hear. The
U.K. five piece
makes soft alter-
native rock that Budapest
has the potential to Too Blind to
put a tear in your Hear
eye and comfort
your soul. Like the Republic Records
Smiths, Budapest
write poppy music with depressing
lyrics. And it hurts so good.
Most songs build off of a simple
acoustic riff that becomes lost in a rush
of drums, bass, electric guitar and key-

board. Lead singer John Garrison
croons; in a falsetto reminiscent at times
of Thom Yorke. You may catch yourself
swaying to the slow, steady rhythm of
the music and Garrison's soft, gentle
voice. Much of Too Blind To Hear
seems a less intensive, less aggressively
guitar-driven version of Pablo Honey.
But don't become lost in comparison.
Budapest's songs are much simpler, and
the genius apparent in Radiohead com-
positions is missing. They wrote 10
songs with solid choruses, non-abrasive
vocals and pleasant music, without ever
quite hitting their potential. At times
they leave the listener wanting a little
more, whether it's a hard crashing-down
of guitars or a drummer that attacks his
kit instead of just keeping the beat.
However, for a first attempt, Too Blind
To Hear is quite an achievement.

includes his involvement with
both his brother's fiance and
his own spurned love. The
opera is a comedy in the sense
that it pokes fun at many of
the things people do when met
with the prospect of love or
the loss of it.
Handel, most famous on
campus for his "Messiah,"

Xerxes
Thursday - Saturday
at 8 p.m. and
Sunday at 2 p.m.
$8 Students
$15-20 Adults
At the Mendelssohn
Theater

orchestras, and Joshua Major, who directed "The
Cunning Little Vixen," head this production and
are also members of the School of Music's facul-
ty. Rehearsals for the production were intense
and exciting for director Joshua Major, who tried
to create a supportive environment for the stu-
dents. Major feels that the most rewarding part of
directing is leading the cast into a deeper under-
standing of the material. "They have to prepare
by learning and understanding the music. We go
through and illuminate what the relationships are
in a scene," described Major.
This performance, though originally about an
ancient Persian king, features 1950's settings and
costumes in an attempt to modernize the opera.
In this lengthy performance, typical of Handel,
there are 50 arias woven together though the stag-
ing, tying everything into a striking story. The
music will also be sung in English. Major said
that it is "a very different kind of an opera, a very
different kind of story telling. [It is] not your tra-
ditional narrative."
Describing "Xerxes" he says, "It's a beautiful
and poignant statement on the exploration of the
nature of love and how we respond to the various
stages of love." The play is, in essence, a look at
an emotion central to humanity. It also employs
comedy to make many suggestions about human
nature and its tendency: Theater goers can look
forward to a unique look at classic and engaging
opera. "There is a comic element combined with a
very introspective beautiful search in looking at
our lives and how we live," says Major about the
spirit of the opera.

was praised by Beethoven as the greatest com-
poser ever to have lived. Handel was a quintes-
sential composer from the baroque period, no
doubt influencing many composers who came
after him. "Xerxes" was chosen by the School of
Music, in part, because it wanted to acquaint stu-
dents with his wonderful work.
This opera also plays on the strength of the
students performing it, which was a major factor
in bringing "Xerxes" to life. Jonathan Shames,
the School of Music's associate director of

Courtesy UIf teScol UofMsic

I love you, Penelope.

By Joseph Litman
Daily Arts Writer
Music REVIEW *
New Orleans is roughly 500 miles
from Atlanta, but the music emanat-
ing from each city makes that dis-
tance seem insignificant, the divide
too great to be quantified, let alone
traversed. ,,,,,,,__
As the N.O. Killer Mike
continues to
pump out its sig- Monster
nature, vacuous Aquemini /Columbia
"Bout-It" sound, Records
the ATL's (and the
South's) finest hip-hoppers, OutKast
and their stable of like-minded MCs,
continue to challenge the boundaries
of rap music, and their innovative
sound indicates a persistent hunger
and curiosity that make the music
sincere and the risks taken authentic.
Nothing is different simply for the
sake of it. The latest manifestation
of this admirable restlessness is

Monster, the curious, energetic,
intriguing debut from Killer Mike
that again challenges the status quo.
This record is cer-
tainly a rap album,
however it neither
.closely relies on
heavy sampling nor
programmed drumsN
for its beats.
Instead, a battery ofs
instruments - gui-
tar, piano, horn,
organ - and an
ample supply of
synthesized noises
make each track unique, many incor-
porating elements of funk, soul,
R&B and rap music.
Radio-friendly single "A.D.I.D.A.S."
is likely as good a song as any to use
as an initiation into the realm of
Killer, however, fans should not cop
Monster if they are expecting 15
songs like the pop ode to inter-
course. That warning should not
deter listeners, though, because the

LP presents so many sounds that
every music fan is likely to find sev-
eral tracks that he or she will really
enjoy. In fact, Mike
so interestingly
blends genres and
various sonic ele-
ments that many
songs will probably
unite plenty of peo-
ple with normally
disparate tastes.
Straight hip-hop
heads will find "All
4 U" and "LI.VE."
two of the better
sanctuaries in the storm of ram-
bunctious musical exploration,
while less traditional rap listeners
may feel comfortable listening to

"Akshon" or the album's hidden
bonus track.
All of Mike's daring does not
work out wonderfully, and some
songs on the album's latter half, like
"Dragon" and "Sex, Drugs, Rap and
Roll," become either boring or sim-
ply too much, overly rich in sound.
For his part, Mike flows well, and
energy will become his calling card
if it isn't already. On every track,
there is a passion and liveliness that
enhances the listening experience; it
absorbs fans, making them feel as
though they're riding in the passen-
ger seat on Mike's musical journey.
He'd be best served to veer off
towards the sonically gaudy less
often, but on the whole, Mike's ini-
tial trip is a fun ride.

U U

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Vietnam/Iraq Comparisons
As with the Vietnam War,
the Gulf War protestors

"a:g:
:'y:.. f.
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