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November 20, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-20

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November 20, 2002



Farsical 'Dinner' filled with laughs

By Marie Bernard
Daily Arts Writer

Courtesy of UMS

The lost art of ballet.

UMS, Bolshoi Ballet
bring Tchaikovsky'Is
'Swan Lake' to Detroit

When Bernard was planning a
romantic weekend with his stylish
Parisian mistress, he wasn't
expecting his wife to cancel her
trip to her mother's. He wasn't
expecting that the gourmet chef he
hired wouldn't be able to cook. He
wasn't expecting that his alibi,
Robert, would turn out to be his
wife's secret lover. This series of
surprises and the sexual farce that
ensues is "Don't Dress for Din-
ner," which is being preformed
tomorrow through Sunday by Uni-
versity Productions. The produc-
tion is directed by John
"Don't Dress for Dinner" was
originally written in French by
Mark Camoletti as "Pajamas for
Six," and was adapted by Robin
Hawden for it's 1991 premiere at
London's Apollo Theater. The play
has since been performed through-
out the world to enthusiastic audi-
ences. Neville-Andrews, who has
set his production in the late '90s,
was excited to bring this show to
the University stage because

By Christine M. Lasek
Daily Fine/Performing Arts Editor
Tonight through Sunday, the world
renowned Bolshoi Ballet will be in the
midst of touring their landmark pro-
duction of "Swan Lake." The company
will only be performing in eight cities
nationwide, including Detroit, Tempe
Ariz., Seattle, Berkeley, Calif., Chica-
go, Costa Mesa, Minneapolis and
It is quite possible that "Swan
Lake" is one of the most revered clas-
sical ballets of all time. Composed by
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, it had its
first production in Moscow in 1877 at
the Bolshoi Theatre.
The exact origins of the story are
uncertain. This uncertainty is only
accentuated by the many revisions the
ballet has undergone since it's first per-
formance over 125 years ago. It is
believed that the story of "Swan Lake"
is based off of a French version of a
German fairy tale. Yet, the legend of
the Swan Maiden goes back for cen-
turies, and women who turn into birds

or vice versa were popu-
lar themes in both east-
ern and western
literature. Swans were
particularly favored due
to their grace when
swimming in the water.
The complete scenario
of "Swan Lake" is not to
be found in any legend,
although parallels do
exist. The story is about
a Princess, Odette, who
is turned into a swan by
an evil magician, Rothbart.

At The Detr
Tonight at 7
Sat.-Sun. a
University Mus
and Detroit Op
Every mid-

night, she becomes human for only a
few hours, and one night, while in her
human form, she is discovered by the
Prince Siegfried, who falls madly in
love with her. Siegfried promises
Odette that he will remain faithful to
her, the only condition needed to break
Rothbart's curse. There is a ball at the
castle, at which Siegfried will choose
his bride. Rothbart sends his daughter,
Odile, to the ball, dressed as a black
swan. Odile looks just like Odette, and
Siegfried declares his undying love for
her, realizing too late that he has pro-
claimed love to a false princess, and
has betrayed the woman he truly loves.
When Odette appears, she realizes
what has happened, and rushes off to
the lake. Siegfried rushes after to her,
begging forgiveness. She grants it, but
Rothbart creates a storm in which both
Siegfried and Odette are drowned.
Tchaikovsky, born in 1840, was the
second eldest of six children. Early in
his life, his father convinced him to
attend the St. Petersburg School of
Jurisprudence, becoming a clerk in the
Ministry of Justice in 1859. However,
Tchaikovsky left his job in 1863 in
order to study full time at the new St.
Petersburg Conservatory. At the con-
servatory, Tchaikovsky was encour-
aged by his teacher Anton Rubenstein
to study everything, even conducting,
although he was always petrified to
face an orchestra as the conductor. It
is said that Tchaikovsky would con-
duct with his right hand while holding
his chin in his left hand, because he
believed that his head would go flying
off his shoulders while in the process
of conducting. Tchaikovsky taught for
twelve years at the Moscow Conserva-
tory, but later in his life, Tchaikovsky
came under the patronage of Madame

Nedezhda von Meck. So impressed
with his work, Meck granted him a
yearly allowance permitting him to
give up his teaching job at the conser-
vatory to devote his time to his com-
posing. They never met each other in
person, but instead had an extensive
and frank correspondence. In 1893,
Tchaikovsky died of the Cholera,
which was probably the result of
drinking unboiled water. During his
lifetime, he composed countless
works in all forms, including ballets,
operas, choral and orchestral works,
just to name a few. "Swan Lake" was
the first piece in the ballet form he
ever composed. In his lifetime,
Tchaikovsky's ballet music was con-
sidered too symphonic, while today's
critics claim that his symphonies are
too balletic. Obviously, he'll never
please everyone.
The Bolshoi Ballet is only one sec-
tion of the larger Bolshoi Theatre,
which also consists of an opera com-
pany and an orchestra. The ballet por-
tion was created in 1776. The
company has withstood
unimaginable odds,
from world wars to dev-
LAKE astating fires that have
burnttheir theatre to the
oit Opera ground on more than
se once occasion. They
:30 p.m. have survived to become
at 8 p.m. one of the oldest and
it 2 P.m.
t.8 . most prestigious ballet
companies of all time.
ical Society The touring company
pera House consists of more than
100 dancers, and the
legend of the Bolshoi promises that
this performance will be a program of
ultimate perfection and grandiose
bravura, which is only characteristic
of their reputation.
Boris Akimov, the artistic director
of the Bolshoi ballet, has chosen Yuri
Grigorovich's interpretation of "Swan
Lake" for this tour. Grigorovich is
considered to be one of the greatest
living choreographers in the world of
ballet today. He is known for breaking
with tradition, although he himself is
firmly rooted in the traditions of clas-
sical ballet, both by birth and by
upbringing. He was the artistic direc-
tor of the Bolshoi Ballet from 1964
until 1994, and he saw the company
through one of the greatest periods of
artistic achievement. Grigorovich's
interpretation of "Swan Lake" reflects
both the exceptional Bolshoi style, as
well as his own perspective on the
political climate of Russia under
Communist rule. It was first staged in
1969, but the production was shut
down after it's dress rehearsal and a
new, less tragic ending was ordered to
replace the controversial one. The
original ending was banned for several
years, but has been restored for this
The Bolshoi Ballet's production of
"Swan Lake" is heavy with the tradi-
tion it carries, not just for the actual
ballet, but the entire company itself.
Yet, this tradition does not keep the
production from speaking to contem-
porary audiences. This is one of the
ultimate stories of tragic, tangled love
and unwitting betrayal, presented in
one of the most beautiful of perform-
ance art forms and performed by one
of the most prestigious companies of
all time. These facts alone speak of
nothing but greatness.

"modern farce is
something our student
actors rarely get the
chance to work on. So DON'T
for them to experi- FOR F
ence, and learn, the
essential techniques At The M
and disciplines of Th
farce acting - comic Thurs.-Sa
timing, pace, preci- Sun. a
sion, coordination, $1
and, of course, perfect University
door slams - is
extremely valuable."
The play is best known for its
humor, a farcical and hilarious
style that will sit well with a stu-
dent audience. The action is quick
and outlandish, and physicality is
always dramatic. "We hope the

bles with

Andrews states, "The best part of
working on this play was watching
the actors discover, appreciate and
enjoy the farce acting techniques."

Courtesy of University Productions

Courtesy of University Productions
Nobody puts baby in a corner.
audiences will have a thoroughly
enjoyable and laugh-filled evening
in the theater," Neville-Andrews
says. "The characters, like all farce
characters, are broad and stereo-
typical." The six-person cast stum-

I get it! French class!

at. at 8 p.m.,
at 2 p.m.
on laughs
for your

Sony's 'Rachet' redefines platformer genre

By Jim Schiff
Daily Arts Writer
"Ratchet & Clank" is one of those
games that barely makes a blip on the
radar upon release, and a few months
later, becomes the hit it was destined
to be. With all the attention focused
on "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" and
a slew of new sports titles, entries
from the declining platform genre are
easy to overlook. But "Ratchet &
Clank" is definitely worth your time,
if only for one reason: It's fun. It's a
lot of fun. And more than that, it sin-
gle-handedly raises the bar for plat-
form games.
Most platformers go for the cute
over the sophisticated, but "Ratchet &
Clank" is an example of the latter; its
storyline is simple but
well-executed. You play
as Ratchet, a sort of
cat/rabbit hybrid who is
eager to travel in space,
but misses a key com- RATC
ponent to his spaceship. CL)
Luckily, a tiny robot
named Clank falls onto For
Ratchet's planet and S
offers him the missing
part. In exchange for
his help, Ratchet offers to help Clank
stop the evil chairman Drek, who
plans to take over the galaxy by
extracting the natural resources from
other planets.
This classic good vs. evil scenario
isn't entertaining on its own: The
developers at Insomniac throw in a
playful sense of humor akin to an
adult version of Saturday morning car-
toons. Other heroes have tried to put a
stop to Drek, but are too caught up in
their own self-promotion to succeed.
On this note, we are greeted with Cap-

tain Quark, a dense, cleft-chinned
hero reminiscent of Space Ghost. As
the star of cheesy infomercials, Quark
is something of a laughing stock in the
galaxy, but cherishes his own line of
fitness products over stopping evil.
Thus, Ratchet and Clank are forced to
defend the galaxy alone.
As the pair travels from planet to
planet in search of Drek, Ratchet's
arsenal of hi-tech weapons and gadg-
ets grows. On each level, Ratchet col-
lects bolts, which serve as currency in
the game and can be used to purchase
weapons. There's standard fare like a
laser-beam gun and a flame-thrower,
but also a variety of innovations, such
as the suck cannon, which allows you
to "suck" in small enemies and spit
them out, and the glove of doom,
which releases small
robots that devour mon-
sters. Though Clank
i * usually just rides on
Ratchet's back, he occa-
ET & sionally ventures out
NK alone, employing his
own skills and technolo-
'S2 gy to defeat enemies.
Ly "Ratchet & Clank"
looks much like a stan-
dard platformer, only
better. The graphics are a cut above
the over-praised "Jak and Daxter,"
featuring bright, colorful textures and
stunning 3-D environments. Camera
angles, which plague a lot of adven-
ture games, particularly the recent
"Kingdom Hearts," are not a problem
here: With the tap of the L1 button,
the camera centers behind Ratchet, so
you never struggle to gain your bear-
ings. Each level is not only enormous,
but well-designed and distinct, so the
game never feels repetitive.
The voice-acting is perhaps the

h comedic precision
through a variety of
outlandish confusion
- mistaken identi-
ties, adultery and
misplaced jealousy.
Adults start acting
like children when
their affairs and
secrets begin to fall
Above all, it's a
solid and reliable
form of comedy -
one that relies more
than on making a play
sentiments. Neville-


Courtesy of Sony

Go Ratchet! Go Clank! Go home!
game's strongest suit. High-pitched
hero Ratchet is a dead ringer for
Marty McFly from the "Back to the
Future" movies, while Clank's mono-
tone robot voice is entertainingly
deadpan. The supporting characters
fare even better: Drek sounds menac-
ing without going over-the-top, and
Quark is instantly recognizable as a
dim-witted super hero.

The game only stumbles with its
awkward control scheme. While this
can be remedied through shortcut
buttons, it still becomes difficult to
switch weapons during an
onslaught. Nevertheless, "Ratchet &
Clank" is still light years ahead of
its platforming peers in nearly every
way, and certainly merits a spot in
your collection.




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